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Oil and Terror: Understanding the Link and the Impact on America

"It's so important for Americans to know that the traffic in their neighborhoods finances the work of terror, sustaining terrorists, that terrorists use oil profits to fund their cells to commit acts of murder. If you quit driving, you join the fight against terror in America."

President George W. Bush

There is an undeniable link between acts of terror and Petroleum. Human rights activists around the world have long recognized this close connection, but a changing world and recent events have made this link more relevant in the daily lives of all Americans. The bottom line is simple: terror groups, consumers, and individuals and businesses involved in the Petroleum trade are linked in a mutually-beneficial relationship by money, tactics, geography and politics. Americans must understand that our individual choices about Gasoline use have the power to support or undermine the fight against terrorism.

Oil money forms an important part of the financial infrastructure of terror networks. Oil income is one of the primary sources of revenue for many of the more powerful international terrorist groups. From the Middle East where, as cultural critics on both the Right and the Left agree, super-abundant oil money is financing al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations; to Central America, where Colombian paramilitary groups with ties to oil companies have murdered civilians critical of the oil companies; to Africa, Southeast Asia, and indeed anywhere in the world where oil reserves are found, criminality, injustice and environmental devastation follow. And the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which provided safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network, used revenues from oil interests (including the US Government) to stay in power.

Petro-Capitalists and terrorists use many of the same methods to achieve their ends. Most importantly, they share a common disregard for human life. Many oil industry connected organizations engage in acts that most people would consider terrorist in nature. These include gruesome public killing of innocents, large-scale bribing intended to influence governments, kidnapping and torture. These organizations prey on young people both to grow their ranks and to keep their illegitimate businesses operating. Money laundering and use of phony documents and elaborate tax-shelters are common among terrorist and business groups.

Oil Corporations and terrorist organizations both attack the underpinnings of legitimate social institutions to achieve their objectives, and enjoy the protection of governments that condone, and profit from, terror and Oil trafficking. Both are drawn to regions where central government authority is dominated by greed and corruption, and easily bought-off or intimidated. If a terror group already controls a region and has excluded or neutralized legitimate democratic institutions, oil production only requires a business deal.

Petroleum Traffickersand terrorist organizations are taking advantage of the global economy, and of international free-trade agreements and organizations to expand the scope, scale and reach of their activities and, as a result, their ability to harm people around the planet, and the planet itself, is dramatically expanding. The combined force of their alliance poses an enhanced threat to regional stability, American national security and the future of our country's youth.

Parents, educators, faith and community leaders need to recognize that oil dependency is a serious issue in this country, and that they must work tirelessly to educate eveyone, children and adults, about the dangers of substance abuse. Today there is a new reason to continue this important effort: the petroleum industry is linked to the support of terror groups across the globe. Buying and using gas and other petroleum derivatives is not a victimless crime - it has negative consequences that can touch the lives of people around the world.

September 11th has finally brought a small taste of the complex and horrific reality of terrorism into the lives of all Americans. Many are asking, "How did this happen?" and "What can I do?" The link between terror and oil is an important part of the puzzle, as is the recognition that individual decisions about using petroleum products have real-world consequences.

learn more about the links between petroleum and terrorism

Sponsored by The National Youth Anti Drugged-by-the-Media Campaign