Narcoterrorism is a term coined by former President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of Peru in 1983 when describing terrorist-type attacks against his nation's anti-narcotics police. In the original context, narcoterrorism is understood to mean the attempts of narcotics traffickers to influence the policies of a government or a society through violence and intimidation, and to hinder the enforcement of anti-drug laws by the systematic threat or use of such violence. Pablo Escobar's violence in his dealings with the Colombian government is probably one of the best known and best documented examples of narcoterrorism.
The term is being increasingly used for known terrorist organizations that engage in drug trafficking activity to fund their operations and gain recruits and expertise. Such organizations include FARC, ELN, AUC in Colombia, PCP-SL in Peru, Hamas and Taliban
In 2000 the U.S. began funding, continued under the U.S. Bush administration, of Plan Colombia, intending to eradicate drug crops and to act against drug lords accused of engaging in narcoterrorism, including among them the leaders of the marxist FARC and the AUC paramilitary forces. The U.S. government is funding large-scale drug eradication campaigns and supporting Colombian military operations, seeking the extradition of commanders.
Although Al Qaeda is often said to finance its activities through drug trafficking, the 9/11 Commission Report notes that "while the drug trade was a source of income for the Taliban, it did not serve the same purpose for al Qaeda, and there is no reliable evidence that bin Laden was involved in or made his money through drug trafficking." The organization gains most of its finances through donations, particularly those by "wealthy Saudi individuals".
Areas or countries that have active or historical narcoterrorism or narco-war include:
- Afghanistan, to fund operations with sales of opium and heroin in the Afghanistan War
- Colombia and Peru, which have influential revolutionary "narcoterrorists"
- Mexico, which has a serious problem with cartels, first centered around Sinaloa and Mexico City and now spreading, in the Mexican Drug War. A recent example of this is the 2011 Monterrey casino attack.
- Pakistan, especially in Waziristan and adjacent regions, related to the war to the west and tribal problems, farmers farm opium
- The Drug War in Mexico: By Any Other Name it's Terrorism, by Barnard R. Thompson (MexiData.info)
- DEA Digging Into Al Qaeda Drug Links, By Robert Hendin, July 18, 2008. CBS News.
- A GLOBAL OVERVIEW OF NARCOTICS-FUNDED TERRORIST AND OTHER EXTREMIST GROUPS, May 2002, Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
- Testimony of Victor Comras to the US House Subcommittee on Financial Oversight and Investigations, hearings on Current and Evolving Trends in Terrorism Financing. September 28, 2010.
- Hezbollah, Hamas Raise Money for ‘Terrorist Activities’ From Drug Trade in South America, Congressional Research Service Says, By Edwin Mora, June 08, 2010. CNS News.
- "The Drug War and Terrorism". Narcoterror.org. 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2013-07-07.