Drug Traffickers, Terrorist Networks, and III-Fated Government Strategies

  • Michael Kenney


On April 8, 1986, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) Number 221 in which he identified the “expanding scope of global narcotics trafficking” as a security threat to the United States and its democratic partners in the western hemisphere. Just three months earlier the president had signed another directive, NSDD Number 207, highlighting the growing threat to American security posed by terrorist groups intent on attacking “U.S. citizens and installations, especially abroad.”1 Both directives were issued in response to developments in transnational terrorism and drug trafficking and designed to prioritize foreign policy objectives, outline specific enforcement strategies, and clarify roles and responsibilities for federal agencies. Indeed, the 1980s were growth years for both illicit industries. According to U.S. government data, the number of international terrorist attacks against the United States and other countries increased for most of the decade, while transnational smuggling enterprises saturated U.S. drug markets with cocaine during the same period.2 Dramatic incidents such as the Miami Dadeland Mall shootout in 1979, attributed by law enforcement officials to rival Colombian drug gangs, and the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 by Hezbollah militants in 1985, highlighted the danger to public security posed by these illicit non-state actors and the corresponding need for a more coordinated policy response from the United States and its allies.


Terrorist Attack Drug Trafficking Drug Trafficker Central Intelligence Agency Transnational Organize Crime 
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© Elke Krahmann 2005

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  • Michael Kenney

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