WASHINGTON, D.C. — The “nexus” between Latin American drug cartels and Islamic terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) affiliate Boko Haram, which controls Africa-based smuggling routes towards Europe, “is real” and expected to “get more sophisticated,” declared U.S. Department of Defense Secretary John Kelly.
DHS Chief Kelly made those remarks during a discussion hosted by George Washington University (GWU) on the threats the United States is currently facing.
“The nexus between criminal networks and terrorist networks is real, and I will predict it will get more sophisticated,” he proclaimed.
Before assuming the role of department secretary, retired Gen. Kelly served as the head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which is in charge of American military activity in the Caribbean and Latin American countries south of Mexico.
His successor, American Adm. Kurt Tidd, recently highlighted collaboration between transnational criminal groups (TCOs) and Islamic terrorist organizations in Latin America, warning U.S. lawmakers that groups like ISIS are seeking to “radicalize and recruit” people in Latin American regions that house violent street gangs, namely MS-13.
Adm. Tidd noted that a radical Islamists and TCOs working together, perhaps unwittingly, is “not totally impossible” as previously thought.
Echoing the admiral, Kelly said what was formerly thought as far-fetched notion — criminals and terrorists collaborating — has become a reality.
Kelly pointed out that Islamic terrorist groups are involved in laundering money for drug cartels and charging a fee for the use of smuggling African routes into Europe.
The DHS chief said;
We know as an example is [sic] that the money laundering of massive amounts of profits from the U.S. drug demand — there are terrorist organizations that make money from that money laundering process. We know, as an example, when cocaine moves into the [African] Maghreb, the terrorist organizations [in the region] — Boko Haram that kind of [group] – they allow it to pass through into Europe.
It’s in an incredibly lucrative way to raise money. They’re [terrorists] not doing it in huge amounts yet, I don’t believe, but to me, it would be the next step.
Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah is known to maintain a presence in Latin America.
In October 2016, then-Gen. Kelly said the Africa-based Sunni group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is raising “a lot of money” by allowing Latin American drug cartels to traffic cocaine into Europe through West Africa.
We know that the cocaine that flows out of Bolivia and Peru, the number one and number two producer, feeds the cocaine habit around the world.
So we know that much of the cocaine that moves through West Africa, up the Maghreb, and into Western Europe — al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliates take a fair share, some amount of money, we don’t know how much, but a lot of money to allow it to flow. We know that some of the [cocaine] money that comes out of the United States is laundered into the coffers of Hezbollah.
According to the United Nations, traffickers are smuggling deadly heroin from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region into Europe and the United States through territory in West Africa, home to Boko Haram and ISIS’s West Africa Province.