Academic journal article Military Review

Global Security Challenges with Potential Links to Terrorism

Academic journal article Military Review

Global Security Challenges with Potential Links to Terrorism

Article excerpt

Terrorists require safe havens in which they can plan and train. These outlaws thrive in places where the absence of civilized standards encourages criminal organizing or radical politics. Some of these havens are pockets of lawlessness, particularly in South America, where terrorists find it easier to hide. In this new age of electronics and drug profits, lawless refuges empower international criminal enterprise and violent political expression. These sanctuaries must be neutralized if the United States is to eradicate international terrorism.

COMMANDING what many refer to as a new, motivated, and efficient organization, General Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, commander of the Colombian army, affirms that "every war is fought with victory in mind." Major Richard Procell, managing editor of the Latin American editions of Military Review, spoke with Mora during his recent visit to Fort Leavenworth. During his visit, Mora was inducted into the International Hall of Fame for international officers who graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and who have attained distinction in their home countries.-Editor

MR: First, we wish to extend our congratulations to you on your induction into the International Officer Hall of Fame. Our focus will be to analyze the war in Colombia and to determine the Colombian Army's involvement in it.

For decades, the threat-the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been tough, persistent, patient insurgents. Both groups seem even stronger because of their involvement with the drug trade and, apparently, because of their association with other international criminal organizations. What in your opinion are the political objectives and military strategies of these organizations, and what do you think they intend to do to achieve them?

Mora: The guerrilla movements that arose during the 1960s adopted a communist doctrine and ideology. The FARC linked itself to what was known as the Moscow line, while the ELN looked to Cuba. Over the years, both organizations grew considerably in numbers and quality. As the drug problem increased in Colombia, the two movements became more and more involved with the drug trade, which undermined their political base.

Losing political ground, the organizations began attacking those they had vowed to protect-the people who became victims of terrorism. On the other hand, the organizations' increased involvement in all phases of drug trafficking made them economically powerful. They have the means to acquire all types of weapons through connections in the international black market.

MR: Have the FARC and ELN grown since 1995?

Mora: Growing both in manpower and in means, the FARC now has approximately 16,000 armed men, and it has plans and strategies to eventually take over the government and change the democratic system in Colombia. The ELN includes approximately 4,500 armed men and has its own plans to change the democratic system.

Energy and fuel infrastructures-the destruction of oil pipelines and electric power structures-are the main targets of these organizations. They attack the population, destroying homes, churches, public buildings, banks, and bridges. They are responsible for kidnappings, massacres, arsons, and hijackings. Civilians in rural areas are their primary victims. The organizations do not rely on popular support; in fact, according to national polls, only 2 percent of the Colombian population support them. They terrorize the population with weaponry obtained through the economic power of drug trafficking.

MR: Could you address the FARC's international efforts?

Mora: Because of their terrorist actions against civilians, the organizations have established contacts and exchanges with other terrorist organizations around the world. They have acquired technical combat expertise, especially instruction and training for manufacturing and effectively using explosives and unconventional weapons that can cause great damage and many casualties. …

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