As the U.S. and its allies continue to squeeze traditional sources of terrorist funding, such as Islamist charities and renegade states, terrorist groups are increasingly turning to criminal activity for cash, say experts.
The DEA is employing a “kingpin” strategy to take out traffickers tied to terrorist groups. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the agency has targeted top heroin smugglers close to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
DEA agents are also making a major push in South America’s triborder area, a crime-ridden no man’s land where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet.
The region, a notorious haven for smugglers, is home to Arab drug-trafficking gangs that are moving cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East, the DEA’s chief of operations, Michael Braun, told the House International Relations Committee on March 30.
Some of their profits, Braun said, are reportedly ending up with radical groups such as Hamas and Hizballah.