Latin America American Terrorism Issues and Possible Research Paper

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Latin America

American terrorism issues and possible convergence with drug cartels in Central and South America

Terrorism in Latin America


The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN)

United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)




Iranian Activity and Sponsorship Focus

Tri- Boarder area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay

Regional Overview and Criminal Activities and Concerns

Parallel developments of Terrorism and Organized Crime

Poverty, Discrimination and Relative Denial

Interconnections between Terrorism and Organized Crime


Abu Nidal organization (ANO)

The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN)

United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)

Hizballah (Party of God)

Types of Crime which may also Finance Terrorist Activity 25

Drugs and Drug Cartels 25


Credit Card fraud

Donations 27

Religious "Zakat" tax 27

International Organizations 27

Internet 28

U.S. Concerns, Response and Possible scenarios 28

Conclusion 28

Bibliography 30


This paper is about the threats of terrorism to Latin America. This research project will focus on an overview of Latin America terrorism issues and possible convergence with drug cartels (and/or other ordinary crime syndicates) in Central and South America. It will research regional and international terrorist groups, both state and non-state sponsored. The states which are discussed in context of terrorism are Columbia, Peru, Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. Various terrorist groups and their role in spreading terrorism along with their strengths are discussed in detail. Iranian activity and Tri- Boarder area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are thoroughly discussed because of the significant role played by these regions in spreading terrorism in Latin America. Reasons that leads a nation towards terrorism like global economic recession, widened gap between the communities, expansion of heroin and cocaine production across the world as a response to destitution and poverty, declining income and unemployment, discrimination with the increased globalization of mass media enhancing the feeling of relative denial which in turn increases several vices in the society and drug trading are discussed in detail. The kinds of illegal businesses like smuggling, drug trade, and credit card fraud andbank robbery are also deeply analyzed. It has been analyzed that how different religions are using their sacred religious funds to support and reinforce terrorist activities. Zakat fund's use for these purposes is quoted as the most appropriate example. International organization's and media's negative role to promote terrorism has also been discussed thoroughly in order to decipher facts and realities about the adverse effect of terrorism globally. In the end, United States of America's response and implications of different scenarios has also been discussed. All these facts not only highlight the effects of terrorism across the globe but also prompt the nations to think about it.


Terrorism is somehow an undefined term with no legal binding and criminal law definition. In simple words, it is referred to the methodical practice of terror often defined in terms of violence. It can be explained in terms of oppression as well. It is usually defined as vicious and violent acts that are done intentionally to create fear[footnoteRef:2]. These violent activities arecarried out for religious, political or, sociopolitical goals. Some new definition now includes acts of illegal viciousness and war. In certain circumstances, same methods and tactics are used by criminal organization for purposes like handling a difficult situation of unrest but these are not considered terrorism activities. On the contrary, similar tactics fall under the criteria of terrorism if implemented or practiced by politically motivated group. The word "terrorism" is diplomatically and sensitivelystimulating, and this significantlyleads to the trouble of providing anexact definition. It is thus a controversial term due to multiple reasons. Firstly, it is frequently used by government establishments and persons with contact to state backing to delegitimize political or other rivals. Similarly, in certain cases, it is being used to legitimize the federation's own use of armed force against enemies.It is not only used by terrorist groups and non-political organizations but is also being used by a broad range of political parties to fulfill their motives and goals. It is being used by patriotic groups, religious groups, rebels, and ruling regimes[footnoteRef:3]. [2: Fazey, Cindy. "International Policy on Illicit Drug Trafficking: The Formal and Informal Mechanisms." Journal of Drug Issues (2007): 2-3] [3: Weiss, Peter Ulrich. "Terrorism, Counterterrorism and International Law ." Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) (2002): 22-34.]

The basic purpose of this research paper is to bring facts to light about Latin America terrorism issues and possible convergence with drug cartels (and/or other ordinary crime syndicates) in Central and South America. It will research regional and international terrorist groups, both state and non-state sponsored.It is usually believed that spread of terrorism in United States of America is the outcome of September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. This is not the complete truth. This incident added fuel to the already existing fire. It intensified the already existing issues in America. Terrorism in America, like America itself, is an invention of the numerous inhabitants, disputes and clashes that co-exist within the nation's borders.The United States is almostdistinctiveamongst nations for its capability to "contain multitudes" in comparativecoherence. On inspection, a considerableextent of terrorism in American antiquity is driven by a greatsuspicion of the American model of democracy. People of varied backgrounds exist in America and they can all claim faithfulness to and the welfares of the American system. In short, September 2001 incident cannot be solely claimed for the increased terrorism in America. It can be defined as a passionate right over what or who is genuinely American. This confusion about American model of democracy led to the unrest among the nation which eventually resulted in increase of terrorist activities.

Terrorism in Latin America

It has been a major concern to the United States to secure Latin America from terrorist threats and activities. The government is paying attention to save these Latin American from groups that are making effort to overthrow the ruling government and are trying to create unrest. Despite of the fact that Latin America is not the center of attention in war on terrorism but countries of this region have been struggling with national terrorism for decades and global terrorist groups have at times used the area as a battlefield to progress their causes. This too is an alarming situation. Steps need to be taken to secure the region from these dangers and hazards that are making people insecure and forcing them to act suspiciously in context of the American model of democracy[footnoteRef:4]. [4: Lutz, James M. And Brenda J. Lutz. "International Terrorism in Latin America: Effects on Foreign Investment and Tourism ." The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies (2006): 33-56.]


Colombia has three terrorist groups that have been elected by the Secretary of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)

The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN)

United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

Colombia is considered an economically unstable country that has been a victim of terrorism from the past 120 years. During the 1940s, rebellious terrorist groups appeared in rural areas of this region when criminal groups came under the influence of Communism, and were later transformed into contemporary groups, such as the Ejercito de LiberacionNacional (ELN) or National Liberation Army and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionares de Colombia (FARC) or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Rebel terrorist groups arose in reaction to subversive groups and were later converted into present-day groups, such as the AutodefensasUnidas de Colombia (AUC) or United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Terrorism has been causing many problems in this state. From 1995 to 2002, 9,435 people were killed by terrorism-related events, of which 5,864 were killed by subversive terrorist activities and 3,571 were killed by paramilitary terrorist activities. In 2002, at least nineteen attacks produced 10 or more casualties, of which 18 were bombings. In 2002, terrorists killed at least 12 mayors, 71 legislators, and internally displaced 300,000 persons from their homes. Since terrorist groups in Colombia are usually sustained by drug business and trading, it has been challenging at times to discriminate violence due to terrorism from violence due to illegal drug trafficking.

Terrorism has been causing harm to the economy in multiple ways. It has caused adverse effects on the economy of the region. It can result in many problems like restricted travel, loss of economic capitals, lack of economic security, political instability and loss of infrastructure.

The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN)

State Department's 2010 terrorism report has brought many realities to light. According to this report, ELN has around 1250 fighters with very little resources and capabilities but they still have managed to cause casualties on a large scale. Despite of its limited resources and low potential fighters, it has been able to influence terrorism activities with the help of funds generated through drug trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion. ELN has been acting as one of the leading source of trouble in Columbia due to which the government signed…[continue]

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