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Prohibition: Terror Groups Profit From Drugs, DEA Says -- Missing Forest For Trees

Nearly half of the groups officially listed by the US government as foreign terrorist organizations fund their activities through drug trafficking, a top DEA official said Sunday. Nothing is more profitable for terrorist organizations than drugs, said Michael Braun, the DEA's assistant administrator, speaking at a conference on "The Global Impact of Terrorism" in Israel.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dea-exhibit.jpg
misleading DEA traveling exhibit on drugs and terrorism
The DEA has "linked 18 of the 42 officially designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) to drug trafficking activities of some sorts," Braun said. The resort to financing political violence through drug trafficking profits is a result of receding state support for terrorism, Braun said, as well as the fact that Al Qaeda has "shifted from a corporate structure to a franchise structure," making its affiliates pay their own way.

Money from the illegal drug trade is funding the FARC in Colombia and the Shining Path in Peru, Maoist rebels in India, and Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while various Islamic groups on the terror list are also suspected of profiting from hash and heroin.

With an illicit drug trade estimated at $322 billion annually by the United Nations, the black market dollars are an irresistible source of income for such groups, which may then morph into something resembling traditional drug trafficking organizations. Braun pointed to the FARC, which originated in the 1960s as a leftist guerrilla army as "the case study for this evolution," and estimated its annual revenue from the drug trade at between $500 million and $1 billion each year.

"That's what the Taliban are doing now in Afghanistan," said Braun. "They are taxing farmers, but we have indications that they started providing security. That's what happened to the FARC 15 years ago," he added. "We'll have to deal with more and more hybrid" organizations in the future, Braun told the conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya. "When your job takes you to the swamps to hunt snakes, you can end up taking crocs too -- they live in the same place."

What Braun did not say is that this lucrative source of funding for political violence around the world could be effectively dried up by repealing the current global drug prohibition regime enshrined in the UN drug conventions. It is, after all, illicit drugs' status as a prohibited commodity that both makes them extremely valuable and leaves them to be trafficked by violent criminals.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The growth of stateless terrorist armies

has happened concurrent wit hte growth of the international black market for intoxicant drugs.

As long as government prohibits society from regulating, licensing and taxing the criminal and terrorist anarchy out of drug distribution gangsters and terrorists will continue to thrive.

Here is a 4x5 post card that people can print out and send to their members of congress and to the presidential candidates.

Please folks, look for ways to put these terrorism and crime funding issues in front of our memebers of congress and presidential candidates.

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this info.

It is true that if terrorist

It is true that if terrorist organizations lost control of the drug trade they would not be receiving as much income, but isn't it also true that if people stopped criminally using drugs the terrorists would not have as much funding. If you really care, then why not stop using drugs and supporting them?

borden's picture

assumptions, assumptions

Persephone, you've assumed that the people reading and writing this article are users of illegal drugs. Where do you get that information? For my part, I've never used any illegal drugs. But of the people I know who do, most of them use substances like marijuana that are grown here and don't support terrorist groups.

Now it's your turn to answer the question. You've acknowledged that terrorist groups would lose income if they lost control of the drug trade, which sounds like you implicitly acknowledge our point about legalization. If you really care about stopping terrorism, do you therefore advocate legalization, as we do? After all, people will never stop using these drugs, because drug use is part of human nature. But the illegal drug trade can be put out of business with the stroke of a pen and some follow-up work.

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

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