WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. military is confronting an “extremist Islamist movement” in the Americas that has been linked to the use of illicit trafficking networks by criminals and terrorists, likely working together, revealed U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd during a roundtable discussion with reporters.
While briefing Pentagon reporters on Wednesday, Tidd described the use of illicit networks by criminals and terrorists as the greatest security challenge facing the United States in Latin America and Caribbean, adding that more often the lines blur between the two groups as a result of their combined activities.
“We know that extremist groups are ideologically driven and want to harm the United States,” explained the admiral in SOUTHCOM’s annual posture statement, submitted to Congress earlier this year. “We know that criminal organizations are profit-driven and will engage in illicit activities that increase their bottom line.”
“We also know that both operate in the same dark underworld of illicit finance, fraudulent documents, and weapons trafficking and that violent extremist organizations have availed themselves of some of these criminally provided services,” he added.
He warned Pentagon reporters Wednesday that Islamic terrorist groups are attracted to illegal trafficking networks in Latin America.