Narco- terrorism can be seen from a number of perspectives. The term is commonly applied to the use of terrorist techniques by drug traffickers and dealers to distract attention from and facilitate drug abuse. An accepted definition in this regard is as follows:
DOD) Terrorism conducted to further the aims of drug traffickers. It may include assassinations, extortion, hijackings, bombings, and kidnappings directed against judges, prosecutors, elected officials, or law enforcement agents, and general disruption of a legitimate government to divert attention from drug operations. (Narco-Terrorism: definition)
From a broader sociological perspective Narco-terrorism can also be seen in terms of its emphasis on the aspect of terrorism per se. From this broader and more inclusive perspective a number assessments of the meaning of the term may be made. Firstly, in this wider context narcotics can be used as another weapon in the terrorist's arsenal to influence and detrimentally affect and destabilize a society. This refers to the idea of narcotics being used as part of a terrorist campaign which includes many aspects and functions to create a specific atmosphere and environment within a given society. This view is more contemporary and in line with the idea of "postmodern terrorism." Postmodern terrorism is terrorism in which a different mindset has come into play and where the terrorist expands his or her possibilities and opportunities on a number of fronts.
Postmodern terrorists have given up on revolution and liberation and instead pursue what can only be described as organized criminal activity where it's "just business as usual." Narco-terrorism is one such variety, but many terrorist groups raise money through criminal activity, and to be sure, a few terrorists started out as street thugs or had a proclivity for such things as vehicle theft. (SUICIDAL TERRORISM)
In the above sense, Narco-terrorism can be seen as terrorism that combines and integrates criminal activities with the larger and more politically-oriented aims and goals of terrorism.
This view of terrorism and particularly the use of narcotics as a terrorist tool are not entirely new. There are many theories that have posited the close alliance at many levels between organized crime and terrorism. A good example is the funding of terrorist activities via narcotics - where the funds obtained are used to facilitate terrorist activities. The relationship between terrorism and narcotics in its more contemporary form is outlined in the following quotation.
In the early 1990s the meaning and usage of the term 'terrorism' was further blurred by the emergence of two new buzzwords - 'Narco' and 'Terrorism'... The former term revived the Moscow-orchestrated terrorism conspiracy theories of previous years while introducing the critical new dimension of narcotics trafficking. Thus ' Narco-terrorism' was defined by one of the concept's foremost propagators as the 'use of drug trafficking to advance the objectives of certain governments and terrorist organizations' -- identified as the 'Marxist-Leninist regimes' of the Soviet Union, Cuba, Bulgaria and Nicaragua, among others
The idea of the Narco-terrorist has particular contemporary reference and has even been applied to the actions and intent of Osama bin Laden
The al Qaeda terror group has embraced heroin trafficking to such an extent that its leader, Osama bin Laden, is now a "Narco-terrorist," says a U.S. congressman just back from a fact-finding mission in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "It seems clear to me heroin is the No. 1 financial asset of Osama bin Laden." Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, told The Washington Times, "There is a need to update our view of how terrorism is financed. (Scarborough R.)
Many experts see a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and narcotic dealers that is part of the definition of the functioning of the Narco-terrorist. The new and more inclusive view of terrorism is expressed in terms of the effect that drugs and narcotics are having on the tenor and the harmony of society. The important aspect is that the two factors of dealing and distributing narcotics and terrorism are seen as intimately linked with possibly more than just criminal intent at strake.
When speaking of Narco-terrorism, we cannot afford to overlook its effects in cities, towns, and neighborhoods right here in the United Sates. Drug-related violence plagues too many communities and violent drug gangs terrorize too many good decent citizens on a daily basis in their own neighborhoods. (Marshall, Donnie)
The author goes on to stress that Narco-terrorism is just as destructive in its effect on society as any other form of terror.
This terrorism is every bit as real and horrifying to the citizens in those communities as the World Trade Center and Pentagon images are to the nation. When one considers these facts together, it is easier to see the connection between drugs and terror and understand the meaning of the term "Narco-terrorism." In a very large sense the domestic drug problem aids terrorism. Addicts poison themselves and drug traffickers create crime and violence and immeasurable other ills in our society. In turn, terrorists use profits to murder even more of us, and forever change the world in which we live. (ibid)
In terms of sociological theory Durkheim's view of society provides some important insights into the issue of Narco-terrorism. While his classical sociological theories were written to deal with essentially late nineteenth and early twentieth society, his foundational concepts lend insight to the present question of Narco-terrorism and society.
More specifically, Durkheim viewed society as an intricate entity which depends on the balance and harmony of its part to function successfully. One of his central concepts was the necessity of strong regulatory mechanisms within the society to prevent imbalance. Such imbalances resulted in negative effects, such as increased suicide rates.
Durkheim's theory of anomie is related to the breakdown of systems of value and regulation within a society. This is very similar to the aims of the terrorist and particularly the Narco-terrorist. The term anomie is derived from Greek and means essentially lawlessness. Succinctly stated, "Anomie thus is social instability resulting from breakdown of standards and values." (Social Facts and Suicide)
Durkheim's view of society is explained in terms of principles of cohesion and opposition that determine societal behavior.
In simple terms, Durkheim wanted to explain the 'social glue' that seemed to bind individuals together as a society and the answer to this problem (what is it that holds thousands/millions of individuals together in some form of common bond?) was to see social systems as 'moral entities'; things to which people feel they morally belong. For Durkheim, society took on the appearance - to its individual members - of a 'thing'. That is, society appeared to be something that existed in its own right, over and above the ideas, hopes and desires of its individual members. ("A" Level Sociology)
This view of society is based on the vision of society as an entity in its own right and the assumption that human beings are essentially social animals who exist primarily in collective groups. From these basic assumptions Durkheim moves on to the analysis of society in terms of the relationships formed within simple and complex cultures, dependent on the size and structure of the society. An important aspect that relates to this topic is that relationships that develop in a society imply a certain amount of routine and conformity as well as the creation of values and norms.
In order for a relationship to exist, it is necessary that some form of routine is established, since without the routine reinforcement and affirmation of the existence of a relationship we would be continually forced to re-establish social relationships - something that is not possible if people are to live together and develop socially. (ibid)
This view in turn leads to Durkheim's theory of Anomie. This occurs when the regulatory and routine structures and processes in a society are out of balance or break down. This situation results in a condition of loss of meaning and direction for the individual which was previously provided within the more regulated framework of the society. This in turn results in a sense of displacement and social anxiety in terms of the individual's relationship to others and to society in general.
In simplistic terms, Anomie occurs when the rules, norms and values of a society break down and there no inner balance or coherence exists that can regulate the individuals' desires.
The theory of Anomie therefore relates to the aims of Narco-terrorism and terrorism in general, by disrupting and even destroying moral and ethical value structures of a society and thereby increasing the sense of meaninglessness and Anomie. This creates a fertile ground for less subtle incursions and attacks. This view is expressed by experts like Raphael Perl, a specialist in international affairs.
Drug trafficking and terrorism bring violence to our cities. For them, violence is a means to an end. Both are long-term phenomena for which there are no quick fixes. Terrorists and traffickers indiscriminately target civilian populations, one with indiscriminate killings; the other with drugs. Finally, they target the youth - either…