ATbar Assessing the Terrorist Threat in the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina

Assessing the Terrorist Threat in the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina

01/01/2014 | by Trevisi, A. F.  

Terrorism in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) has become a salient, highly-publicized issue. The region is freequently called a counterfeit capital, crime hub, and breeding ground for terrorists. Analyzing terrorist activities, operatives, and groups established in the triple frontier requires an introductory description of its particular background. Part 1 outlines the geographical features of the frontier area where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet, as well as the specificities of the three main urban centers: Foz do Iguaçu, Ciudad del Este, and Puerto Iguazú. It also expounds the socioeconomic elements that characterize the region, including its different ethnic minorities, religious groups, and economic activities. It includes a section on the area’s black-market economy and the role played by the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este. These general characteristics make the TBA a potential safe haven and breeding ground for terrorists.

Subsequently, Part 2 attempts to evaluate the main components of the regional terrorist threat – the groups and their activities. Even though the existence of terrorist cells is frequently debated, there is a general consensus among security forces that terrorists operate in the TBA. Most of the available texts focus on the presence of Hezbollah and al Qaeda, despite the identification of Hamas, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, al-Jihad, al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah, Jihad Media Battalion, and Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group operatives in the region. These organizations engage in varied fundraising, recruiting, training and violent activities in the triple frontier. Their capability was alarmingly demonstrated with the TBA-linked bombings in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994.

In Part 3, this report attempts to explain how the operational capabilities of the terrorist organizations are improved by the extension of their regional network and their collaboration with criminal organizations. These factors intensify the threat posed by terrorists operating in South America. Finally, the last part analyzes the efforts that have been undertaken to combat crime and terrorism in the TBA. National, regional and international actors have collaborated in the development of a regional security network. Nevertheless, the fight against terror remains incomplete and riddled with limitations. In order to eradicate terrorism from the triple frontier and the South American continent, the TBA nations will need to implement a more comprehensive counterterrorist strategy.

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