"A nation's honor is dearer than a nation's comfort." (Woodrow Wilson)

    Nationalist terrorism is "traditional" terrorism, also called revolutionary or ideological terrorism. It is practiced by individuals belonging to an identifiable organization with a well-defined command-and-control structure, clear political, social or economic objectives, and a comprehensible ideology or self-interest (Hoffman 1999).  Their target selection is highly selective and mostly discriminate - ambassadors, bankers, dignitaries  - symbols they blame for economic or political repression. They usually issue communiqués taking credit for, and explaining in great detail, their actions. Only rarely do such groups operate outside their home territory unless it is in their interest to do so or they claim to be representing the oppressed of the Third World or belong to some diaspora.

    Nationalism is the driving force behind a love of country so strong that one is willing to die trying to change or overthrow a government seen as corrupt and/or oppressive. It's an Enlightenment notion associated with the thought of Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu that the best form of democratic government is based on the natural desire of people to govern themselves as a distinct nation-state.  It has been the underlying justification for the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Mexican Revolution, and the Cuban Revolution.  The patriotic feeling of loyalty to one's national ties can take different forms depending upon the economic and cultural context.  Most people are familiar with jingoistic nationalism where a common external enemy unites people in a war mentality.  Others, especially Westerners, might be familiar with self-interest nationalism in which a presumed economic superiority permits the export of a civilization in the name of prosperity.  Militaristic nationalism tends to involve fascist or socialist movements that glorify the institutions, icons, and achievements of a state. And finally, there is ethnic nationalism which is rooted in ethnic identity as the basis for a cause.  This last form has become a dominant model of terrorism in the 21st Century, and is called ethno-nationalist terrorism, or more simply, ethnoterrorism

    Ethnic identity has some unique sociological characteristics. First of all, it is egalitarian - the identity of the masses.  Joan of Arc, for example, explained why she continually used familiar names for the French nobility by saying "After all, we're all French."  Secondly, it allows a certain amount of freedom while at the same time reinforcing group solidarity.  A person who says they are French-American-Canadian, for example, has a couple of second-order identities, but they are still French. Thirdly, there are no entry or exit points for ethnic identity. Nobody needs certificates or credentials to prove their ethnicity, and most people can come and go (exit the group and reenter) with relative ease.  The most negative aspects of ethnicity involve stereotyping and de-individualization.  It's easier to gas the Jew, lynch the Black, or shoot the White Man than it is to understand such groups as individuals.  Ethnicity also tends to find its way into public policy, no matter how fair the politicians try to be.  

    Nationalism, or more precisely, the concept of nation-state, was used by the great European powers to create and administer their colonies. It's easier to govern when the "people" think they're all part of a nation-state with borders. Unfortunately, it turns out in this post-colonial era that there were a diverse number of different ethnic groups within those borders.  That's why scholars such as Horowitz (1985) say ethnic conflict is nationalist conflict. Control of the state, a state, any state becomes the goal of ethnic conflict. That's why nationalist terrorist groups are referred to as subnational organizations, para-states, states within a state, liberationists, separatists, or unifiers. One should never underestimate the power of such groups. They are not political parties fighting for their slice of a pie, nor are they simply elites with a grudge going back to some historical accident (they fantasize about some imagined loss instead, or in the case of the IRA, an exaggerated actual loss).  As Connor (1994) points out, such terrorists are emotional personalities with an "us-them syndrome" who are capable of the worst atrocities, up to and including genocide, because ethno-nationalism is a passion or drive that goes straight to the core of an identity need to "find one's self."  Ethnonationalist terrorism is less rational and comprehensible than plain, old nationalist terrorism.


    One of the experts on ethno-nationalist terrorism is Daniel Byman (1998), a RAND analyst, who argues that it has some built-in advantages that make it the most dangerous kind of terrorism (although he is hesitant to use those words). These advantages are paraphrased below with some of my own additions*.

    Countering ethnoterrorism is quite difficult.  Ethno-nationalists almost always hold the high ground on morality, being seen as "good patriots", so any moral outrage by a reactionary government is futile as it only reinforces group cohesion.  Byman (1998) suggests that what might work is empowering the ethnic community, winning over moderates to the political system, and encouraging self-policing. This is all wishful thinking, as such measures can result in insurgency problems, fractionalization, and escalation.  


    Despite the fact that most ethnoterrorism is confined to one country or theatres of operation, there have been many groups who developed an international presence.  More often than not, these are Left-Wing groups, or splintered factions of Left-Wing groups, that take up the calling of oppressed people everywhere. In such cases, support is usually obtained from a sponsoring nation, but it would be a mistake to call it state-sponsored terrorism since they mostly rely upon popular support and the strength of a solid message.  It's also interesting to note that the leaders of many international terrorism groups were women. This is different from say, religious terrorism where women are more commonly used as cannon fodder, or terrorism in general, which is a male-dominated profession.  How and why women achieve terrorist leadership roles are matters of speculation. Laqueur (1999:38) argues that they are more fanatical and have a greater capacity for suffering, but the field of criminology largely rejects this notion.

THE RED ARMY FACTION (RAF): A third-generation terrorist group descended from the Baader Meinhof Gang (BMG) and German Red Army, all active from 1968 to 1998, when they indicated they were ceasing operations. Founded out of a student protest movement, Red Army ideology consisted of terrorism on behalf of the oppressed Third World. The BMG picked victims with ethnic-sounding names (e.g. Brinkmann) out of a phone book. The RAF fought to free the BMG founders from prison and later turned their attention to the anti-NATO movement. The BMG had an unique composition of half men, half women. The leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulricke Meinhof - a female - mixed pornography and group sex with their ideological indoctrination. Their story is told at the website This is Baader-Meinhof. Like most European left-wing groups, RAF merged into Direct Action (a shadowy French umbrella group) to create the appearance of a superterrorist united front. In the late 1970s, it was reported that RAF members were training other terrorists in bacteriological warfare at Palestinian camps.  
ITALIAN RED BRIGADES (BR or Brigate Rosse): An ultra left-wing group active from 1967-1985 who engaged in over 14,000 terrorist attacks and brought the Italian government to a standstill. Known for decentralized cluster attacks (simultaneous or in sequence), they believed that the only thing politicians of any stripe could understand was violence. They accomplished the murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978, the kidnapping of US Army BGen. James Dozier in 1981, and claimed responsibility for murdering Leamon Hunt, US chief of the Sinai Multinational Observer Group in 1984. Their solid anti-Establishment ideology won the hearts and minds of many followers. They came closest to perfecting the Tupamaros model than any other terrorist group, and have formed alliances with others, such as the PLO. 
JAPANESE RED ARMY (JRA): A far-East left-wing group formed in 1969 by the Young Communists who hijacked an airliner to North Korea and solidified their ties with the intelligence service there. In 1971, the group split into an International branch (led by a female-Shigenobu Fusako) and Domestic branch (led by Mori Tsuneo). Shigenobu moved to Beirut to join the Palestinians in fighting capitalism by attacking Israel. Mori's branch became a cult-like murderous group, with Mori murdering most of his followers. Shigenobu's branch had the backing of Syria, North Korea and other sponsors, and became an international terrorist ring. From 1985-1999, she masterminded successful attacks against Western interests in Europe, Asia, and even on U.S. soil in New Jersey. In November, 2000, she was finally nabbed by Japanese police [read the story].  


    State-sponsored terrorism, also called warfare by proxy, "puppet" or nuisance terrorism, occurs when a patron state provides political, economic, or military support to a group of people or organization in a host nation to achieve strategic or hegemonic ends (hegemony defined below) by perpetrating aggressive terrorism on the patron's behalf.  It is a low-cost alternative to conventional warfare, and convenient for sponsors who do not wish to be known, are afraid of defeat, or do not wish to appear as the aggressor. Experts worry that this type of terrorism is most likely to involve weapons of mass destruction

ANTONIO GRAMSCI: Early 20th Century Italian diehard communist who resisted Mussolini and wrote on hegemony (heg e' mon ee) as the true cause of an open, humanist Marxism, being a struggle for the hearts, minds, and common sense of followers.  Hegemony is the way nations try to project their way of seeing things and social arrangements as common sense, and is involved in perceptions of global superpower status.  Hegemony is also Phase One of a terrorist movement, according to Gramsci, which involves the destruction of beloved symbols and ideals.  Gramsci's writings are complex and the stuff of dissertation research.        

    State sponsorship can make, break, and modify a terrorist group. During the World War I era, for example, the Armenians terrorized the Turkish Ottoman Empire, but received no outside support, and were quickly wiped out. The Macedonians, by contrast, received the help and protection of Bulgaria, and were able to launch a more sustained campaign. Unfortunately, Bulgarian assistance came at a price, as the Macedonian terrorists were used against Bulgaria's enemies, domestic and foreign.  The Russian Communists also became involved in sponsoring terrorism during this time period, using Romanian groups as their main proxy, and later, the PLO and Cuba. 

    Shortly after World War II, Third World terrorism emerged practically everywhere in bids for independence from the colonial powers.  It was most violent in Northern Africa and the Middle East, with anti-Israeli terrorism becoming state-sponsored by early 1960. Of all the colonial powers, the French faced the most organized resistance, in Algeria and Indochina (Vietnam), sponsored by neighboring countries.  The 1960s brought all the "big players" (China, Russia, the United States) into sponsorship of terrorism, as well as a number of "little players" (Cuba, North Korea, East Germany).  Left-Wing and Ultra Left-Wing terrorism spread rapidly throughout the world, including North America (with the Weathermen and Black Panthers), the Left operating out of the universities. Right-Wing terrorism also spread globally, in places like Turkey, Israel, and Latin America, the Right operating mainly out of religious institutions. It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that most of the world's nation-states experienced some kind of martial law between 1968 and 1974.     

    After the end of the Cold War, the amount of money traditional supporters gave to their proxy groups decreased, but other supporters moved in to pick up the slack (such as Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Syria). Today, support can come from nation-states, diasporas (immigrant communities in other countries, or nations without states), refugee camps, wealthy individuals, or charitable organizations (Byman et. al. 2001).  It is almost certain that state-sponsored terrorism will continue, if only as a "nuisance."  The purpose of nuisance terrorism is to intimidate, compel the enemy to waste resources, and thereby weaken him.  Below are profiles of two state-sponsored groups, selected to illustrate the longevity of such terrorism.

KURDISH WORKER'S PARTY (PKK): Also called Kurdistan Worker's Party, one of the world's largest nationalist terrorist groups, somewhat Maoist and chameleon-like in character, they have fought for decades to establish a Kurdish statehood. They operate in Turkey and Europe, train in Lebanon, and are supported by Syria and Iran (using Syria as their main base). There are some 20 million Kurds living in diasporas throughout the world (areas in red on map), many in Iraq where they have been the victims of chemical weapons by the Iraqi government, others in places like Germany where they are extorted for protection money. Started as an intellectual movement in Turkish universities during 1973, the PKK has evolved into an anti-Turkish, drug-smuggling operation, having renounced Marxism in 1990, and staunchly refusing to have anything to do with religion, although they have used Islamic rhetoric since 1995. They are very ruthless and well-organized, having wiped out more than 10,000 people in village massacres, and don't seem to mind killing non-sympathetic Kurds as well as innocent Turks. They are particularly good at stealing arms from Turkish and NATO military bases. Frustrated by the absence of U.S. and U.N. involvement, they have embraced anti-Western sentiment in recent years, kidnapping and killing Western tourists, with teachers, policemen, and travel agents being their favorite targets.  Since 2002, the PKK has claimed to cease its activities, but the Turkish government is skeptical and has its hands full with other terrorist groups such as Turkish Hezbollah, who buries its kidnap victims in cement.
BASQUE SEPARATISTS (ETA): One of the world's oldest separatist groups who have fought for decades to establish an independent Basque region, an area about 100 square miles between Spain and France. The Basques are one of Europe's oldest Christian ethnic groups, and the region is the world's number three tourist destination spot. Started as an anti-Franco student resistance movement during 1959, the ETA started murdering Spanish officials in 1968 and have "accidentally" killed about 800 civilians hence, most since 1995 being bombed or kidnapped foreign tourists, mainly British citizens. Robbery, kidnapping, murder, and extortion are their main tactics along with breaking their own ceasefires. They have effectively sabotaged Spanish and French tourism, electoral processes, and seem to favor attacks on nuclear power plants. About 400 of their members are currently imprisoned, and government concessions never seem to be enough for them. They have established a culture of violence similar to the situation in Northern Ireland. No one knows how large they are or who is sponsoring them (Spanish authorities suspect Latin American support). Young people join by paying dues and being trained to kill in small cells of four each.  ETA operatives have reportedly trained in Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, and Nicaragua. Cuba and several South American states harbor ETA operatives.  


    State terrorism, or terrorism "from above", is more than repression, suppression, and human rights violations. It involves sponsored or unsponsored Black Operations combined with Psychological Warfare where reactionary governments, their militaries, militias, intelligence services, or police forces engage in acts ranging from political and mass murder to torture and crimes against humanity.  The most horrific acts of terrorism have always been committed in the name of counterterrorism.  The United States has been the worst offender in this regard, supporting at least 30 intolerable regimes since WWII engaged in state terrorism against populist movements (Blum 2000). Operation Phoenix, for example, officially lasted from 1968-1971 where CIA teams went into Vietnamese villages and murdered civilian chiefs because of their politics.  The French did much the same thing earlier, and the Vietnam conflict produced what many Third World leaders (in Latin America and elsewhere) took as the French-American model of counterterror (torture, murder, and disappearance). 

    State terrorism is often carried out under the guise of economic self-interest when in reality, it's usually the product of a "sick mind" (dictator or strong man) gone made with power, and sponsors of such powers often underestimate this.  Control of the mass media and suppression of dissent are common trademarks, and it would be a mistake to neglect corruption, or the desire to line one's pockets.  State terrorists usually subscribe to an ideology of plutocracy - a system of rule by and for the rich.  When state terrorism is uncovered, the spin or media story is often that of a lone gunman or some conspiracy theory, which feeds additional conspiracy theories trying to uncover the real story.  The most common method of media manipulation, however, is suppression by omission (which involves downplaying the incident or providing the media with a distracter story). 

MICHAEL PARENTI: Late 20th Century political scientist (with his own website), author of over 10 books, and premiere American radical thinker on American involvement with state terrorism (Noam Chomsky being American's second leading radical). He distinguishes "wholesale" terrorism from "retail" terrorism that gets reported in the news. He estimates that U.S.-backed surrogate forces have killed at least 8 million innocent people since Vietnam, and claims U.S. national security agencies and corporate America are the world's leading sponsors of terrorism today.

    State terrorism is almost always Ultra Right-Wing terrorism, a relentless devotion or crusade to the cause of anti-Communism. General Augusto Pinochet (who ruled Chile from 1973-1990) was quoted as saying "I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country, who served Chile throughout his entire life on this earth. And what he did was always done thinking about the welfare of Chile." Pinochet was a U.S.-supported dictator who tortured and executed 2279 dissidents in unusually cruel and perverse ways. Atrocities were also committed after 1981 U.S. involvement in Sandinista Nicaragua with funding of the counterrevolutionaries (Contras) in Honduras, but the media only focused on allegations that Lt. Col. Oliver North was trading drugs for arms. The original handlers of the Contras were Argentine Army intelligence officers.          

ARGENTINA's DIRTY WAR: Beginning in 1976 with the rise of two terrorist groups, the Montoneros (Liberal Peronists) and the ERP (student radicals), both perfecting the Tupamaros model,  and Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla's (the Pink Panther's) wiping them out after a military coup, the "Dirty War" was a counterinsurgency campaign to eradicate anyone and anything regarded as politically subversive. Some of the atrocities included rape, baby harvesting, mass murder, cross-border assassinations (Operation Condor, involving Brazil, Uruguay, and Bolivia), and refined torture techniques involving electric shock, asphyxiation and sexual perversion. It lasted until 1982 when the Argentine military went too far and annexed the Falkland Islands, bringing down the wrath of the British and loss of U.S. support. Since 1998, Argentina has been trying to come to grips with this horrible past, and documentation of U.S. involvement has been recently declassified
EAST TIMOR'S INDEPENDENCE: An island country with a number of issues that fought its way to U.N. protection in 1999 after 24 years of Indonesian state terrorism, despite 85% of its territory being burned to the ground and 33% of the population being killed by Indonesian-trained militias and armed forces. The U.S. now has severed all military and training assistance to Indonesia, but for many years, was the principal supporter. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, and has long received U.S. military and economic aid, propping up the 32-year dictatorship of General Suharto, and protecting economic (oil & mining) interests in the Aceh province. The East Timorese are trying to seek justice for war crimes, genocide, and human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, torture, as well as restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association.   


    There are a number of places around the world where bribery, or the misuse of public office for private gain, rules the day, and when an entire nation is run like this, it is more than a breeding ground for terrorism -- it's a safe haven for all kinds of terrorists.  Almost every year, the U.S. AID, through a coalition called Transparency International, releases a report called the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) which lists the worst offenders -- nations where public officials and their cronies don't miss any chance to take bribes or kickbacks at every opportunity.  The leaders of such nations plunder their environment in unsustainable ways, engage in blood diamond commerce (blood or "conflict" diamonds have been financing civil war in Africa for years), put a lot of ghost workers on the bureaucratic payroll, and line their pockets at the expense of their people.  The CPI is a poll of polls, drawing upon the collective expertise of several economic intelligence agencies, and here are the worst offenders:


1. Bangladesh
2. Nigeria
3. Paraguay
4. Madagascar
5. Angola
6. Kenya
7. Indonesia
8. Azerbaijan
9. Uganda
10. Moldova
11. Haiti
12. Ecuador
13. Cameroon
14. Bolivia
15. Kazakhstan
16. Vietnam

    In these kinds of places, the bribe to get a telephone installed is usually more than the cost of using the telephone for a whole year, and things like that are just the normal way of doing business.  Examples of corruption range from fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, bribery, and extortion to influence-peddling.  Systematic corruption is prevalent.  A customs official usually gets their job through a political favor or bribe, and is expected to share whatever bribes they get with superiors.  A judge in a corrupt nation usually has their judicial decision influenced by bribes.  Tax, health, fire, and police officials regularly demand bribes.  A corrupt government that is neither representative nor effective is not legitimate.  There is no rule of law and low accountability for public officials.  A patronage system, or one based on personal loyalties, such as to one's family, ethnic, or religious group, has replaced the rule of law.  One-party dominance of the political system also creates an underground, black market economy.

         There are critical links between corruption, crime, and terrorism.  First comes the corruption, which establishes a multiplicity of crimes, including the criminal trafficking networks and black markets that enable gun and drug smuggling, for example.  Many of the citizens in such drug transit zones become addicts, but many of them also come to hate what they regard as exacerbating factors -- such as foreign investors allowed to profit through bribes -- and they come to blame not only their own government, but the governments of these foreign investors for the vast poverty and injustice in their land.  The irony is that these foreign investors are not even sending the money they make back home, as many of them are engaged in money laundering, or safe off-shore investment banking.  Money laundering is also the most common way terrorist groups are financed.  Here's a 2003 list that the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) put out that they call Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories, or places where banking regulations are not very strict and tougher regulations have been resisted:


1. Cook Islands
2. Egypt
3. Guatemala
4. Indonesia
5. Myanmar
6. Nauru
7. Nigeria
8. Philippines
9. Ukraine
10. Bahamas
11. Cayman Islands
12. Dominica
13. Lebanon
14. Liechtenstein
15. Marshall Islands
16. Grenada


    The financial incentive to make money from terrorism is not new. Worldwide violence has always been driven by the arms market. The international trade in weapons doesn't leave the clearest paper trail, but it's commonly known that you can buy anything from anybody in this business. Bolivia is a major conduit and transshipment center in arms trading. The remains of the Soviet Union's arsenal is for sale to anyone with hard currency. The French have historically demonstrated a willingness to sell to anybody, and so have the Belgians, at least in small arms, a specialty of theirs. Two economic forces in the arms market are hybridization and customization. Both involve combining parts of weapons systems from one manufacturer or national entity with parts from another manufacturer or entity. French computers combined with Russian radar are a hot hybrid item, and MiG fighters, of course, are customizable. Increasingly sophisticated weaponry is finding its way into the hands of terrorists and subnational organizations. Here's a table of the biggest exporters and importers on the arms market:



Russia (18 billion a year)
U.S. (8 billion a year)
France (4 billion a year)
Cuba (2 billion a year)
China (2 billion a year)
Czech Republic (1 billion a year)
Poland (1 billion a year)
Germany (1 billion a year)

Iraq & Iran (6 billion a year)
Saudi Arabia (3 billion a year)
India (3 billion a year)
Vietnam (2 billion a year)
Angola (2 billion a year)
Libya (2 billion a year)
Egypt & Syria (2 billion a year)
Australia & Japan (1 billion a year)

    Other terrorists have been mercenaries, or soldiers of fortune. They are guns for hire, as long as they think the cause is just and the money is right. They may or may not have ideological convictions, and a desire to see "action" may be the primary motivating force. The classic cases of this are Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal, although many experts warn about blowback from surviving members of the Afghani majhadeen. 

CARLOS THE JACKAL: aka Carlos Ramirez Santos, aka Salim, Andres Martinez, Taurus, Glen Gebhard, Hector Hevodidbon, and Michael Assat, was a 44-year old Venezuelan raised by Marxist-Leninists who is regarded as a master terrorist (along with Abu Nidal). From the early 1970s until his extradition in 1994 where he showed no remorse and was suspected of being a psychopath (read Carlos Captured), he is responsible for approximately 83 deaths worldwide. Unusual among terrorists, he was a gun for hire, having no dedication to any single ideological cause, and worked for Libya, Syria, and Iraq, among others.  He lived a playboy lifestyle, and left dead corpses in his wake. His most famous exploits were the 1975 capture (and billion dollar ransom) of OPEC oil ministers at a meeting in Vienna and the 1980 attempted assassination of INTERPOL and UN Crime Prevention officials in Caracas. There were numerous other exploits, mostly against France (his favorite target), and many of his victims were innocent bystanders. He worked with and trained other terrorist groups: the German Bader-Meinhoff gang (he married one of the gang members), the Italian Red Brigade, the Japanese Red Army, and Middle Eastern groups.   

ABU NIDAL: aka Sabri al-Banna, a Palestinian, born in Jaffa, whose family was run out of Palestine by Israeli forces in 1948, and spent his teenage years becoming a bitter extremist in the refugee camps of Nablus where he also joined Fatah, but split with that PLO group in the 1970s over their being too peace-oriented. He set up his own killer teams to strike at Israelis, westerners, Arab moderates, and Yassar Arafat. His well-disciplined teams became known as the Fatah Revolutionary Council, and carried out over 900 hits (some as contract killings) across 20 countries over 25 years.  His methods included hijacking, bombing, and assassination, which seemed to halt in the 1990s. A shadowy, psychotic, and vicious killer, he lived in the shadows most his life, and possessed an extraordinarily warped sense of justice, redress, and revenge. He was discovered dead from gunshot wounds while dying from leukemia in 2002 while living in Iraq.


    Narcoterrorism is a term that has instigated debate among experts, ever since Rachel Ehrenfeld (1990) first coined the term. Some believe it's a useless term that confuses the drug war with the war on terrorism. Others believe it's a way of degrading true revolutionaries. Technically, it refers to the financing of terrorist activities by participation in the drug trade, and some (Napoleoni 2003) have even gone so far as to say narcoterrorism is a component of all terrorism today as a direct outgrowth of the modern global economy's complicity in arms smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and a number of other shadowy criminal activities that take place by proxy on the world stage. Theoretically, narcoterrorism is both a mode of attack (saturating the enemy population with dangerous narcotics) and a tactic (raising so much money you don't have to fight, just buy friend and foe alike).  It's closely associated with the practice of money laundering, in which drug dealers convert illegally gained profits to "clean" cash using foreign businesses and banks.  The DEA defines it as any terrorist act carried out by groups that are directly or indirectly involved in cultivating, manufacturing, transporting, or distributing illicit drugs. The term is generally applied to groups that use the drug trade to fund terrorism (the most drug-funded terrorist groups being Colombian groups, the Shining Path, the Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah, PKK, ETA, the Real IRA, and Al-Qaeda).  Osama bin Laden has reportedly advocated using narcotics trafficking to weaken Western societies by supplying them with addictive drugs. (In 2000, Americans spent almost $63 billion on illegal narcotics.)  

    In 1998, the U.S. spent almost $3 billion dollars on interdiction efforts. Most of these funds go to foreign aid at what are called "source-zone" countries, to help them improve their law enforcement capabilities and develop alternative sources of revenue for their economy.  The U.S. also uses a certification system to pressure foreign governments to strengthen their legal systems. Decertification results in U.S. opposition to loans from the World Bank and other multinational organizations.  The U.S. also works feverishly at increasing its extradition treaties with nations, meaning that they will surrender targeted drug offenders for trial on American soil.  Terrorist groups thrive in "source-zone" countries by charging unofficial taxes on the growers. Here's the source countries:

Marijuana: Cocaine: Heroin:

    Besides "source-zone" countries, there are a number of "transit-zone" countries, too many in fact to list, but these are places where drugs are refined, cut, designed, imported and exported.  A few nations have made drug importing and exporting a main part of their economy - Syria and Lebanon coming to mind as two good examples of economies heavily dependent upon being transit zones for drug trafficking.  In such places, the government collects the custom taxes and distributes it to whatever terrorist groups are receiving "safe haven."   Drugs are a handy way to get lots of cash.  Just from taxes on poppy growers in Afghanistan, the Taliban was reportedly able to raise $50 million a year. 

    The violence associated with narcoterrorism is generally targeted at the corruption and/or removal of criminal justice officials, specifically judges and attorney generals.  At least this is the Colombian exemplar, which is a $300 million a year business, and produces 80% of the world's cocaine supply and 70% of America's heroin supply. 

COLOMBIA's DRUG WARS: Colombia is the most politically violent country in the world. At least one assassination occurs per week. The government, with U.S. backing, turns a blind eye toward right-wing death squads as well as military action against whole villages, terrorizing, torturing, and murdering those seen as too liberal or sympathetic to the rebels. The rich in Colombia are very rich, and the poor are very poor. The rebels consist of two Left-Wing terrorist groups, the FARC and ELN, which are large and well-equipped. In addition, the country is de facto ruled by Right-Wing drug lord cartels (narcotraficantes) who have cultivated the most popular support. When violence erupts between government, rebel, and cartel forces, the country devolves into anarchy. FARC forces peasants to grow coca and ELN tends to tax existing growers. Another group, the AUC (United Self Defense Forces) also dabbles in the cocaine business.  Colombia is the third largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, and America's "Plan Colombia" hopes to help the government become strong and fight narcotraficantes.  In addition, the U.S. government operates a school for military leaders out of Ft. Benning called WHISC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) which teaches counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics methods.  Both Plan Colombia and WHISC are the targets of a well-organized protest group (SOAW) in the United States.   

A Case Study of the PKK in Turkey

American State Terrorism

Amnesty International's Pinochet Page

Anti-Corruption Gateway for Europe and Eurasia
Argentina's Dapper-State Terrorism
BBC Special on ETA's Bloody Record

Brigate Rosse: Politics of Protracted War in the Imperialist Metropolis
CNN Special on Basque Conflict in Spain

CNN Special on the Ocalan Trial (PKK)

East Timor Action Network

ICT Profile of the Red Brigades

Spanish Government Intelligence Report on ETA

The Nationalism Project

Turkish Government Intelligence Report on PKK

U.S. Weapons Sales & Military Training in Indonesia

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Parenti, M. (2001). (7e) Democracy for the Few. NY: St. Martin's Press. [sample chapter of Against Empire]
Parenti, M. (2002). The Terrorism Trap. San Francisco: City Lights Books.
Webb, G. (1999). The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. NY: Seven Stories Press. 

Last updated: 09/21/04
Syllabus for JUS 415

Syllabus for JUS 429
MegaLinks in Criminal Justice