Rogue Islamic regimes rank among the leaders of the unholy alliance of state-supported and state-sponsored global narcoterrorism. Narcoterrorism has become a most effective weapon – economically and operationally – in the battle against the most effective opponent of rogue regimes, the U.S. These regimes aim to undermine the U.S.'s homeland security, to injure U.S. morale, morality and social fabric, to instill fear and erode Americans' confidence in the capabilities of their own government, and to bankroll expanding global terrorist operations.
Driven by ideology and greed, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terror organizations have targeted the U.S. throughout the globe and on the mainland, establishing beachheads in Central and South America and setting sleeper cells in the U.S. and in Canada.
The deep roots of the narcoterrorist threat to the U.S. and to the free world were highlighted by the Congressional Research Service in an April 30, 2010 report, and by Anthony Placido, the intelligence chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, during his March 3, 2010 testimony before the House Government Reforms Subcommittee on National Security: “More than 31,000 Americans – or approximately 10 times the number of people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, die each year as a direct result of drug abuse … It is important to note that this is not an emerging threat per se, but one that has existed since the late 1980s or early 1990s ... 18 of 44 designated international terrorist groups have been linked to some aspect of the international drug trade ...The nexus between drugs and terrorism is well established, and the threat to our national security is evident ... Some drug trafficking organizations, based in the Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay tri-border area [which has a large Muslim population], have ties to radical Islamic terrorist groups such as Hezbollah ... There are numerous reports of cocaine proceeds entering the coffers of Islamic Radical Groups (IRG) such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Europe and the Middle East.”
During the 1970s and 1980s, Yasser Arafat’s and Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO controlled clandestine laboratories in Lebanon, laying some of the foundations to the current narcoterrorism infrastructure, which boosted the PLO’s stashed bank accounts. According to Western law-enforcement agencies, 40 percent of the PLO’s weaponry acquisition was then financed by the trafficking of heroin, hashish or morphine. Much of the heroine consumed in the U.S. and Western Europe was provided by Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the PLO and other terrorist organizations, in return for Soviet Bloc military supplies. In a March 1988 interview with the El Paso Times, Tom Smith, a retired FBI deputy director for intelligence, stated that the PLO’s large contingency in Nicaragua was there in order to facilitate a narcoterror offensive against the U.S.
Narcoterrorism in the service of the U.S.’s enemies was discussed by Dr. Vanessa Neumann, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, in a December 2011 enote: “Venezuela and Iran are strong allies ... Iran also has a growing direct influence in Latin America, spurred by three principal motivations: 1) a quest for uranium, 2) a quest for gasoline, 3) a quest for a base of operations that is close to the U.S. territory, in order to position itself to resist diplomatic and possible military pressure, possibly by setting up a missile base within striking distance of the mainland U.S., as the Soviets did in the Cuban Missile Crisis. FARC, Hezbollah and al-Qaida all have training camps, recruiting bases and networks of mutual assistance in Venezuela as well as throughout the continent … Latin America is an increasing source of funding for Middle Eastern terrorism ... Hezbollah has high-level officials directly involved in the South American cocaine trade and its most violent cartels, including the Mexican gang Los Zetas ...The tri-border area, South America’s busiest contraband and smuggling center, has long been an ideal breeding ground for terrorist groups ...”
Narcoterrorism constitutes a most sinister weapon, aiming to maim and murder the body and soul of free societies. The characters of regimes and organizations involved in narcoterrorism are corrupt, in contrast to the essence of liberty and peace.
Narcoterrorist regimes and organizations cannot engage in – or adulate - narcoterrorism on the one hand, and claim to be engaged in the pursuit of peace on the other hand.
The sweeping and comprehensive uprooting of regimes and individuals involved in narcoterrorism, directly and indirectly, constitutes a prerequisite for the advancement of genuine, long-term peace. On the other hand, the engagement with - rather than the confrontation of - narcoterrorist regimes and organizations amounts to the sacrifice of permanent values and long-term interests on the altar of short-term convenience.
Yoram Ettinger is a consultant on US-Israel relations as well as the Chairman of Special Projects at the Ariel Center for Policy Research.