In a bid to stay afloat and keep their finances streaming, terrorist groups have resorted to a myriad of solutions with the recent past showing a spike in drug trafficking by these groups. Drug traffickers and dealers are always under law enforcement’s watchful eye, their unlikely alliance with terrorists provides a virtually non-policed environment and the potential of these unions are worrisome. Drugs like cocaine and heroin while highly addictive, are also very expensive and traffickers often find en-genius ways of passing their product through law enforcement.
According to the UNODC’s World Drug Report, it is reported that in 2004, some 400 tons of cocaine was exported from one Latin American country, with an estimated domestic value of USD 2 billion. How much of this money is used for perpetrating acts of terrorism? Estimates vary. But even a small percentage would be more than sufficient for some individuals or groups to plan, finance and carry out terrorist acts.
Not only that, but terror groups such as the Al Shabaab have been known to abuse drugs before and during their operations as was seen during a recent failed suicide bombing in Mogadishu. This provides a whole other market segment for drug traffickers as they not only use the terrorist organizations for smuggling purposes but as a final market in itself.
Indeed drug trafficking has provided funding for insurgencies and those who use terrorist violence in various regions throughout the world. In some cases, drugs have even been the currency used in the commission of terrorist attacks, as was the case in the Madrid bombings.
Illicit drug traders and terrorists are however not too far from the law. They operate in ways that can be understood, identified, tracked and ultimately disrupted. We need to integrate our work to build up more effective and efficient networks so that we may defeat these illegitimate networks that perpetuate so much destruction throughout the world.