South America's Drug-Terror Link. (Terror Watch)

Article excerpt

While our nation remains focused on terror threats and oil stoppages from the Middle East, both of those threats have recently emerged much closer to home, in South America.

After the September 11 attacks, Reuters news agency obtained a tape recording of a Colombian guerrilla leader's plans to attack Americans. He promised "to combat them wherever they may be, until we get to their own territory, to make them feel the pain which they have inflicted on other peoples." So vowed Jorge Briceno, a leader of the Marxist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as FARC.

Briceno, who celebrated the 9/11 attacks, urged his followers "to take away their economic resources from them by any means in order to defeat them. Reach out to North Americans who are unhappy and organize them. Reach out to black North Americans and make them see how they are discriminated against."

In a House of Representatives committee hearing, Representative Cass Ballenger (R-NC) warned that FARC leader Manuel Marulanda has threatened to "hit American targets," particularly U.S. military units engaged in the war against drug production in South America.

Colombia is the most abundant source of cocaine and heroin in North America. FARC, along with other paramilitary groups fighting for control of Colombia, provides protection to farmers who grow coca and poppies, and finances its revolutionary operations through drug sales.

Through murder, kidnapping, and intimidation, FARC has enacted a reign of terror throughout Colombia, where it has murdered 13 Americans since 1980 and kidnapped over a hundred more. Experts believe FARC terrorism could spill onto American soil. "There's no reason we shouldn't take this threat seriously," said a GOP aide who handles U.S.-Colombian relations. "The FARC, through its networks, can distribute cocaine right into Washington, D.C. They certainly could use that network to attack our cities."

FARC is cited on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, along with al-Qaeda and other groups hostile to the U.S. In fact, State Department officials are exploring possible links between FARC and Middle Eastern terror groups.

There have been unconfirmed reports that some FARC members were trained in bin Laden's Afghan camps, and congressional investigators have explored possible links between South American narcotics groups and the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan when it grew nearly three fourths of the world's heroin. …