As the U.S. and its allies continue to battle radical Islamic terrorists in the Middle East, there's a growing and consistent presence of terrorist activity right here in the Western Hemisphere. A new report from the U.S. State Department focuses on terror groups like ISIS and Hezbollah finding financial and ideological support in Latin American countries. Specifically, terror groups are recruiting and fundraising in places like Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Columbia, and the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
The growth of terror group activity in Latin countries comes as no surprise to Jeffrey Addicott, professor on terrorism and law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. "(Terrorists) like to go where things are unstable, because they can operate in that environment quite easily," he says.
Addicott tells KTRH that radical groups are gaining a foothold in Latin countries by exploiting the presence of criminal gangs and organizations. "Even though, ideologically, they may not agree with these organizations, they'll use them to their benefit to establish networks," he says. "They've been recruiting and using that as a funding source to gather revenue."
The report says no jihadist groups are currently operating in Mexico, but other reports have shown evidence of terror activity there in recent years. Nevertheless, Addicott warns it's important for the U.S. to keep an eye on both its Southern and Northern borders. "The biggest threat in my opinion is from the North, as opposed to the South," he says. "Most of the attacks and plots we've seen have come from the Canadian side."