It’s been an interesting day here in Washington D.C. The Wilson Center today discussed the growth of Venezuela’s illegal economies and its impact on peace and regional stability. Also, George Washington University’s (GWU) Program on Extremism today presented on domestic terrorism. Their presentation addressed both contemporary knowledge in understanding domestic terrorism and the domestic terrorism proposals currently sitting in the House. Their talk was illustrative of how challenging the issue of domestic terrorism is from a political and legal perspective. Without some cohesive political and legal reform, domestic terrorism will remain an increasingly difficult issue to tackle. Understanding the nexus between illicit economies and terrorist groups is an important factor in further mitigating the fear and damages incurred by terrorists. As the Wilson Center presentation noted, groups like the FARC and ELN are reliant on Venezuela’s illicit gold economy. Just like licit organizations, terrorist groups are reliant on income to fund themselves. This is also true of domestic terrorist groups. In the case of the U.S., however, American law enforcement is limited in how they can approach domestic terrorism. This is problematic as GWU’s Project extremism noted in a tweet earlier today stating “some of our domestic terrorists are traveling overseas and receiving training.” This means that domestic terrorism can be influenced by foreign terrorist organizations which are receiving funding through illicit means.
The interconnected nature of these two discussions reveal how integral a part they are in furthering our understanding of terrorism and the dynamics which motivate and perpetuate them.