Drug Trafficking and Terrorism in the Middle East
Terrorism and drug trafficking are the major wars that the world has been trying to fight for several centuries. However, winning the war has not been easy because of the nature of the organizations involved in the crime. Most of these organizations are very large and they operate as religious groups or militias. The Middle East region has been classified as one of the strongholds for these groups. In this region, these groups have even penetrated some governments, making it almost impossible to fight them in such countries. In this research, the focus will be on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah as some of the leading terror gangs, which are also actively involved in drug trafficking.
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Hamas is an Islamic organization that was founded in 1987 in Palestine by Sheik Ahmed Yassin (Levitt, 2006). This Islamist organization was considered an offshoot of the Muslim brotherhood of Egypt because most of their initial funding and strategic plans were determined by this Egyptian organization. The primary policy of this organization when it started its operation was to eject Israelis from the Middle East and to liberate the Palestinians that had been arrested by the Israeli soldiers. They believed that the Israelis were intruders in this region and that their presence in the Middle East was a reflection of the oppression from the West. This belief arose from the fact that Israeli was a close ally of the West, and this gave it a military strength to fight its neighbors. Their Islamic beliefs made it easy for the group to recruit youths for its military wing. This made it possible for Hamas to fight ideological and military wars. The group has been politically successful in Palestine as it had won many seats in the parliamentary elections giving it a commanding lead in the parliament. This group has been closely associated with drug trafficking and terrorism not only in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the world.
The Islamic Jihad is an organization that is closely linked to the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of youths demanded an immediate departure of all Americans and citizens of countries seen to be American allies from Lebanon. They organized bombings and kidnappings of American nationals as a way of expressing their disgust against the West. As the group became stronger, they adopted the name Islamic Jihad in reference to the Jihad war. They strongly believed in Jihad war as was taught by some of the Islamic religious leaders. They believed that if they died fighting for their religion and freedom of their society, then Allah will accept them in heaven as heroes. This misleading belief made several youths join the group as suicide members because they were told that when they did in such deaths, then they would go to heaven and meet Allah. Their major policy was to eliminate any American from Lebanon. With the strong links to some of the terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad has become one of the strongest terror groups in the Middle East. The CIA has closely linked this group to drug trafficking in parts of South America (Katz, 2003).
Hezbollah is a Shi’a Islamist political party and the militant group founded in 1985, in Lebanon. According to Harik (2007), the name Hezbollah means ‘Party of Allah.’ This means that this party has strong religious foundations based on some of the fundamental Islamic teachings. The group has a clear structure, with one wing operating exclusively as a political wing, and the other operating as a militant group. Under the leadership of its founder, Abbas al-Musawi, the organization gained massive popularity in late 1980s and early 1990s. Its principle focus was to resist Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza Strip. In fact, the leader of this group emphasized the need to wipe out the entire Israelis from the Middle East. According to Harik (2007), in their manifesto, Hezbollah was determined to expel all the French and American nationals as a way of putting an end to neocolonialism.
The Relationship between Hezbollah and Drug Trafficking Operations
According to the reports by the Central Intelligence Agency, Hezbollah is closely linked to some of the largest drug trafficking cartels in the Latin America, West Africa, Middle East and other regions across the world. One fact that makes this organization operate the drug trafficking cartels successfully is its political and military structure. The political leaders in Lebanon, who are members of this criminal gang, can easily negotiate the movement of the drugs from one country to another without being subjected to checks at the airports. The political leaders also help in gathering intelligence on some of the security dynamics that may affect drug trafficking. The drug lords are offered maximum security in these countries because they form a government. The military wing plays another major role in ensuring that the drugs are safely transported from one region to another. According to Harik (2007), the Hezbollah has a contingency of well-trained officers posted in various routes that the drugs take from their source to the destination. Their responsibility in these routes is clear. They are supposed to protect the consignment of the drugs from officers who fail to play to the tune of the drug officers. Custom officials who fail to follow their demands are supposed to die mysteriously at their hands. Such cases have been very common in the developing nations, especially in West Africa.
Impact on the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism around the World
The impact of the close relationship between Hezbollah and drug trafficking has had negative impacts on the war on drugs and terrorism around the world. With such clearly defined structure, it becomes difficult to fight drug trafficking. Harik (2007) says that, it is difficult to fight drug trafficking without being seen to be fighting some governments in the Middle East. The drug lords are so entrenched into the government that it is not possible to detach them from it. The presence of an active military wing of this organization has instilled fear among the custom officials and security officers. They have witnessed their colleagues who were leading the battle against drug trafficking die mysteriously when handling the cases. This has made them prefer to ignore cases of drug trafficking for their own safety. This relationship has also affected war on terrorism around the world negatively. Drug trafficking has earned this group enough money to fund terrorism in various parts of the world.
Drug trafficking and terrorism in the global society has been closely associated with various Islamist groups in the Middle East. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah are religious and political groups that operate terror groups and drug trafficking syndicates all over the world. Fighting these groups has not been easy because they are strongly entrenched in some of the governments in this region.
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Harik, J. P. (2007). Hezbollah: The changing face of terrorism. London: McMillan Publishers.
Katz, S. M. (2003). Jihad: Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company.
Levitt, M. (2006). Hamas: Politics, charity, and terrorism in the service of jihad. New Haven: Yale University Press.