American authorities at a recent conference reiterated a long concern that Al Qaeda and Hezbollah could ally with Latin American drug cartels to launch new terrorist attacks, though for now there is “little likelihood” of such cooperation.
Agents of both groups have been identified in various countries in the region, most believed to be dedicated to securing fundraising and logistical support, reported the Associated Press.
Intelligence agencies and independent analysts have long feared that drug trafficking routes could be used to smuggle people and weapons of mass destruction into the United States.
“The presence of these people in the region planted the possibility that they are trying to attack the United States,” Charles Allen, director of intelligence analysis for the Department of Homeland Security and a CIA veteran, told the AP. “The threats in this hemisphere are real. We can’t ignore them.”
Given the high level of government corruption and the weakness of state institutions, Latin America is “fertile ground” for interaction between the groups. He urged more attention by the U.S. government.
Yet Allen considers that for now “there is little likelihood” of cooperation between terrorists and drug traffickers. “It would be without precedents,” he said. The article did not elaborate.
The two-day conference about the threat of drug trafficking on the continent was organized by the United Sates Southern Command and AFCEA International, a group of 35,000 communications, intelligence and national security firms.