In Europe, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, is the most famous of these hybrid entities combining a “political” appearance (national liberation, independence) and a criminal reality : terrorism and narco-trafficking. But the PKK is in no way an exception and “narco-guerrillas” can be found nowadays in Asia, Latin America and Africa; specifically in Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Colombia, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia and Sri-Lanka. The collapse of the Soviet Union has meant an enormous loss of ideological and material support for these guerrillas, now forced to finance their “wars” though illicit activities. The control they exert on illegal migration networks from the South to the developed world, and their narcotic and weapons trafficking, etc., are facilitated by their diasporas and “vanguards”, implanted in most of Europe’s metropolises, specially in Paris, London and Berlin.

“Degenrating” from a purely political to a “politico-criminal” nature has been these guerrillas’ only practical option to avoid extinction. Their “mutation” and activities have gained enormously from the abolition of the bipolar world order. They have also benefitted from the subsequent lifting of the obstacles erected during the cold war; both physical barriers, the Berlin Wall and other impassable barriers at the Eastern bloc’s external and internal borders; and psychological barriers, notably the binary mode of reasoning : either West or East, either political or criminal, etc. As a result, the political actors of the cold war’s marginal conflicts (guerrillas, militias, national liberation movements, terrorist groups) and the criminal entities (organized crime, mafias, cartels), which previously existed in separate and distinct worlds, have now been precipitated onto the same scene.

If these guerillas have lost their major ideological reference, they have developed a sort of symbiosis with governments of some third world countries. But here as well, mutations have occured and often, these states have themselves become predators. In some cases, they even act as sheer pirates : Myanmar-Burma, Cuba, north-west sector of Pakistan, Iraq, Liberia, etc. Symbiosis : when asked, the narco-guerrillas commit terrorist attacks on the targets chosen by the pirate-states; in return, the guerrillas have access to the state intelligence services and treasuries, for assistance in smuggling illicit substances or equipments, money laundering, etc.

This type of relation differs radically from the cold war’s Middle-eastern state sponsored terrorism. Yesterday, the extremist pro-Syrian palestinian or Lebanese groups were under the strictest control of Hafez al-Assad’s secret polices, and hit only on order. Today, puppet-states, weaker each year, experience great difficulties in trying to control guerrillas made rich – and autonomous – by narcotraffic. Today, the pirate-states often depend on their guerrilla-associates for their security and survival, as the junkie depends on his dealer for his fix of heroïn..

Among the most dangerous narco guerrillas are :

  • New People’s Army (Philippines)
  • Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Sri-Lanka)
  • Khmer Rouge (Cambodia)
  • Sikhs guerrillas fighting for “Khalistan” (name of a future Sikh nation-state in India)
  • Shining Path (Peru)
  • Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance (Senegal)
  • Kurdistan Workers Party (Turkey and around)

The list is not restrictive : expanding the “degenerate guerrillas” category is possible by crossing the following criteria :

  • Ideological fanaticism (often Marxism-Leninism),
  • Separatist or revolutionary guerrilla operations in their home-country,
  • Propaganda and criminal activities (a whole range) in Europe and the rest of the developed world,
  • Narcotrafficking and terrorism outside of their organization, and violences inside (homicidal purges, etc.)
  • Links with countries hostile to the West.

Studying these narco-guerrillas, exploring their dangerous and harmful dimensions will help magistrates, police and defense officers understand the magnitude of this new threat. European experts on terrorism should, for example, exchange information on the PKK, from the anarchic territories of northern Iraq to downtown Paris, London, Athens, Amsterdam or Frankfurt; from its political-ideological dimension to its links with the kurdish mafias. Same with the Tamil Tigers and others. To this day, the evolution and implications of these “degenerate guerrillas” has not been properly adressed. It is important to fill the analytical “gap” which currently exists.

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