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Column 061112 Brewer

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mexico and its Neighbors up against Terrorism Cloaked as Crime

By Jerry Brewer

The expansion of terrorism in Latin America is increasing, and this must become a matter of utmost -- and immediate -- concern, with strategic initiatives for this hemisphere.  As well, it is time for the U.S. and Mexico to stop trying to water down the specter of terrorism by definition.

It is hoped that previous theories, as to violence and terrorism by transnational organized crime culprits being totally separate from each other, will be aggressively attacked for their similarities. Local law enforcement and police authorities are already confused as to their roles, understanding and ability to confront this terroristic-style of criminal insurgencies and actions.

As in what is described as traditional Middle Eastern terror, acts of terrorism in Mexico and Central America show startling similarities. The dissimilar attributes would solely be violent acts of a holy war.  Mexico and the northern cone Central America nations are virtually overwhelmed with violence and killings, with the intent of these acts being to coerce the civilian populations and influence government policies, as well as domination and control by abduction and assassination.

The territorial nature is designed to expand the impunity with which the criminals conduct their activities through corruption and against weak institutions, weak and non-existent legislation, and a reluctance to allocate sufficient resources to defend against the insurgents.

The attacks and violence do not have to be catastrophic in magnitude, but rather well-orchestrated acts that achieve massive media coverage for the extremists to get prime time media exposure. Mexico's Los Zetas embrace the graphic displays of decapitated and mutilated victims posed and placed in public places, as well as bodies hanging from bridges and similar barbaric acts. And they love to leave a sign which is their calling card -- "Z."  

Innocents have routinely been targeted for abduction, ransom, torture, and death. Migrants have been slaughtered and buried in mass graves. Los Zetas and other insurgents have stalked and ambushed military units with head-on confrontations, and they have targeted law enforcement and other government officials for abduction and murder.

These terrorists share traditional terror modus operandi in superior weaponry and explosive devices, as well as strategic paramilitary style concealment and movement; pre-attack surveillance; and sophisticated communications capabilities. They have realized the theatrical nature of their murderous acts and like it. This not so cleverly represents identity to them, although most are also known as drug traffickers for profit which is not their intended message.  However, the violence is cleverly choreographed to demonstrate that they are an organized force representing power and control like any other guerrilla-like insurgent group.

The deadly dividing line and counterpoint between the terrorists and the reported media coverage is quite simply the degree of intended importance that the media sets for this reporting agenda, and how the stories are framed in terms of their influence as to how the message is understood and interpreted. As the media crosses the perceived line of ethics of these groups relating to their performance and individuality aspects, media-types are watched, stalked, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in true terrorism modus operandi, and a new message is placed before the audience to be interpreted.

Mexico has been described as "one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists." Sources claim that more than "300 journalists have been killed since the 1980s in Mexico" alone, with many still reported missing. The astounding terror nature of this murdering rampage is the description that journalist deaths in Mexico are more than those counterparts killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As with traditional terrorism, Latin American insurgents must rely on consistent recruitment of additional crime soldiers.  Lately, in Central America and Mexico, their preferences have been local street gang and territorial gang members, as well as members of the armed forces who are willing to desert their ranks, as did many of the original Zetas and Guatemalan Kaibiles.  

These nations in harm's way of the increasing terror cycle must be able to improve the quality and training of their police and military units. Plus, their investigators, prosecutors, and courts must be prepared to effect and sustain justice and law and order. The counterattack is simply about comprehensive strategic counterterrorism, and capacity building.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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