By Jerry Brewer
Those that are diligently following the massive violence and escalating carnage in Mexico may have difficulty explaining how something so horrific can occur within their homeland, but accurately defining it may hold promise and strategic relevance.
We are inundated by the world media coverage ad nauseam with explanations of drug trafficking organizations versus rival organized elements and their turf wars for control of drug routes and the demand for drugs. Reports touting “an explosion of drug violence in Mexico” are a common theme.
President Felipe Calderon says he won’t relent on the “drug fight,” and blames the United States for its insatiable “addicted” demand for drugs. However, before hate groups begin to burn the President in effigy it is critically important to see the credible tactical gains of the military with many genuine security improvements, and the capture of many individuals of high value.
There certainly was no alternative of resource other than a well-armed military to combat these narcoterrorists. The police were never a formidable opponent nor did they possess the skills or physical resources to interdict this enemy that has morphed into a plain and simple terrorist.
The effectiveness against the drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), as with terrorists, cannot be measured in the numbers of those combatants killed or captured, but by the ability to counter the psychological impact and political effects of the battle.
We must all understand the true definition of terrorism and a terrorist. There are a myriad of ideologies, contraband, causes, and rationales for terrorism and the subsequent terror that ensues from this mindset. Terror groups are not of a random rise and stand symbol alone. They must have an intent, motive, and common agenda that unite their members to action. Supplying a demand that brings massive revenue, wealth, and power is not enough to earn the terrorist label.
The DTOs have graduated towards achieving political aims and motives using a psychological warfare agenda to instill massive fear and far-reaching psychological effects beyond the usual rival targets and related victims. The terror is in the indiscriminate brutality, cruelness, and associated evil of their violent actions. As with terrorists, these non-state combatants attack legitimate governments and seek to destroy and undermine a political system, its enforcement arm, and a homeland’s way of life.
Helping to analyze the facts conducive to Mexico’s terrorist model is the current killing spree that has spread throughout Mexico, this irrespective of drug routes, DTO turf, and routine rival confrontations. One of their common agendas is in fact the interdiction itself, and all of those perceived to be in support of President Calderon’s “drug war.” Routine and direct ambushes against military and police are becoming common operational acts. The narcoterrorists can match the firefight with paramilitary types of armaments, as well as supersede the enforcement cadre’s weapons in many instances.
Twelve federal officers were killed in an ambush in mid-June. Armed confrontations against police officers and others claimed several hundred lives last week alone. In another strange incident, 19 drug addicts were murdered in a rehabilitation clinic. A newspaper report claimed 96 people were killed in seven Mexican states. Terrorist modi operandi (signatures) are also becoming common practice as there are an increased number of victims of unusual torture, beheadings, and evisceration.
This enemy that is contained within no special boundary, border, or jurisdiction is on a full scale rampage, and is not only more than capable of the violent and murderous onslaught, but is highly motivated and resourced to do so. Police interdiction and related tactics and strategies are of no moment to this terror model.
Terrorist interdiction requires the analysis of patterns, trends, the evolving modus operandi and signatures, as well as the intelligence and determinations of their vulnerabilities. Much like al Qaeda and other Middle Eastern terror groups, they will not respect symbols of authority such as badges, laws, threats to incarcerate and other police enforcement methodology. They are war-like, battle hardened, transnational, and have adopted violent extremism and irregular warfare as their battle plans.
Despite Mexico’s successes and U.S. cooperation in training, equipment, and other expertise, the effort continues to fall short and significant challenges remain. Too, the U.S. homeland will continue to face great risk and a persistent threat to its citizens as these terrorists boldly move to confront any obstacles impeding their agenda. While immigration border issues remain a common topic, neither the Mexican nor U.S. government can ignore nor afford not to keep a vigilant eye on the ball — which is the high potential for fluid and random attacks.