Terrorism is an organized attempt to cause horror via explosion, murder and armed attack. But, narcoterrorism is a novel phenomenon which has been used by terrorist groups to reveal new aspects of terrorism.
Narcoterrorism are terrorist acts which are directly or indirectly related to cultivation, production, transfer and distribution of illicit drugs. Today, the link between drugs, mafia gangs and terrorist groups is so complicated that the United Nations has inserted it in the list of organized crimes and numerous conventions and protocols have been issued to counter it. Conventions 1961, 1971, 1988 and protocol amendment1972 are among them. The link between terrorism and drugs cannot be considered insignificantly; for, the money earned from drug trafficking is so colossal that it has turned into one of the main sources of income for terrorist groups.
The massive scale of trade and financial turnover of drug trafficking in the world and the role of drug mafia has made this issue very noteworthy. It is estimated that one thirds to one fifths of the revenues of organized criminal groups are earned from drug sale in the world. Although all terrorist groups are not dependent on the profit gained from narcotics, some of them are seriously dependent on it. These groups resort to military operations and even shaping of small armies. Examples of these small armies are found in Latin America, Europe, especially Eastern Europe and some of the Asian countries like Thailand, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Drug trade is one of the most important sources of income for Daesh terrorist group. This terrorist outfit, which was blown into smithereens due to the selfless struggles of Muslim combatants, benefited from drug trade throughout its ominous six-year life. American reporter, Jesse Rosenfeld, writes: Hashish is one of the main sources of income for Daesh. Daesh is one of the groups which pretend to oppose drug use. When it was banned to smoke in the areas under Daesh occupation, news was released from Mosul of smoking not just cigarette but hashish by Daesh elements, themselves.
Saeed Mamuzini, head of information dissemination of Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party, said, “Daesh had cultivated hashish in the agricultural fields of Mosul.”
He continued that Daesh, besides hashish, had embarked on cultivation of opium in the farms in the south of Mosul. Head of the security committee of Diyala province, Sadeq al-Hosseini, had also announced that Daesh terrorist group had used swathes of this province for cultivation of drugs.
The news website Al-Mujaz, quoted Ahmad al-Museli of the American University of Beirut, as saying, “Daesh during dominance over the border areas of Syria had cultivated a narcotic called al-Qanab in vast farms of the region and earned enormous profit from smuggling this drug.”
Research shows that, while the local farmers would earn just 1000 dollars from selling of hashish and other drugs during each period of harvest; armed terrorists such as Daesh and al-Nusra earned 16000 dollars during each harvest. Daesh had also cultivated hashish and other narcotics on the farms around Raqqa to sell them in the black markets of Turkey. The internet site International Business Times, revealed in a report that Daesh was engaged in cocaine trade, too, as a lucrative source. This website stressed that the trade of cocaine has prevailed among terrorist groups operating in north Africa, especially the groups which had occupied large parts of Mali and declared their allegiance with Daesh in 2013. The British website added that the terrorist groups of north Africa have been engaged in drug smuggling since 2007 when they dominated over northern coasts of Africa.
International Business Times writes: Takfiri terrorist groups have met their arms and military needs via sale of cocaine and have dominated vast swathes of Mali. Boko Haram and Jund al-Khalifa are the two main terrorist groups in north Africa.
The research of the Spanish police indicate that Takfiri groups have started to transfer cocaine imported from Latin America to the Sahara Desert to other African countries such as Morocco to ultimately transfer it to Spain. Rezwan Murtaza, expert of the affairs of terrorist groups in Syria said to a French magazine that the psychotropic pills Captagon is among the drugs used by Daesh. This expert adds that the cost of production of these pills is not comparable with the income earned from their sale. He says, “Producing of 200,000 Captagon pills cost a few thousand dollars while the sale of this number of pills makes 1.2 million dollars. Daesh sold 50 million of Captagon pills in 2014.
A report was released nearly two years ago on how the terrorist groups were involved in drug smuggling. Referring to the role of drug smuggling in securing a notable part of the expenses of Daesh, the report stated, “Drug smuggling is one of the three lucrative businesses and a major source of Daesh’s budget.”
According to the remarks of Viktor Ivanov, Director of The Federal Narcotics Service of Russia from 2008 until 2016, the annual income of Daesh from drug trafficking to Europe amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Due to the criminality of the activities of terrorist groups’ drug smugglers, it is very hard to access the information of government and intelligence organizations to have a clear knowledge of the magnitude of their transactions and income. Nevertheless, according to the report of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the narcotics smuggling by terrorist groups and drug mafia comprises some 400-500 billion dollars (nearly 6-9 percent) of the total global trade.
These groups are partners in various types of illegal trade. They secure the routes of drug trafficking in exchange for providing arms and equipment. Moreover, they share various experiences in the domains of criminality and terrorism.
According to the former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David Cohen who had also worked in Treasury Department, the annual budget of Daesh in 2015 amounted to 2 billion dollars with a surplus budget of 250 million dollars. These skyrocketing figures had turned Daesh into one of the richest terrorist outfits in history.
Louise Shelley, founder and Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), George Mason University, Virginia, said that the earnings of Daesh were maintained through the sources like trafficking, extortion and organized crimes.