Western Obsession With The Islamic State Is Fueled More By Bigotry Than Any Genuine Assessment Of Risk Or Atrocities
CARTELS VERSUS ISIL
But in 2013 drug cartels murdered more than 16,000 people in Mexico alone, and another 60,000 from 2006 to 2012 — a rate of more than one killing every half hour for the last seven years. What is worse, these are estimates from the Mexican government, which is known to deflate the actual death toll by about 50 percent.
They carry out hundreds of beheadings every year. In addition to decapitations, the cartels are known to dismember and otherwise mutilate the corpses of their victims — displaying piles of bodies prominently in towns to terrorize the public into compliance. They routinely target women and children to further intimidate communities. Like ISIL, the cartels use social media to post graphic images of their atrocious crimes.
The narcos also recruit child soldiers, molding boys as young as 11 into assassins or sending them on suicide missions during armed confrontations with Mexico’s army. They kidnap tens of thousands of children every year to use as drug mules or prostitutes or to simply kill and harvest their organs for sale on the black market. Those who dare to call for reforms often end up dead.
In September, with the apparent assistance of local police, cartels kidnapped and massacred 43 students at a teaching college near the Mexican town ofIguala in response to student protests. A search in the area for the students has uncovered a number of mass graves containing mutilated bodies burned almost beyond recognition, but none of the remains have been confirmed to be of the students.
In fact, several U.S. intelligence officials have asserted that ISIL poses no credible threat to the United States homeland.
Narcos have infiltrated at least 3,000 U.S. cities and are recruiting many Americans, including U.S. troops and law enforcement officers, to their organizations. They have an increasingly sophisticated and robust foundation in the U.S., with Mexican cartels now controlling more than 80 percent of the illicit drug trade in the United States and their top agents deployed to virtually every major metropolitan area. There are no realistic assessments indicating that ISIL could achieve a similar level of penetration in the United States.
EXPLAINING THE DISSONANCE
It is clear that the anti-ISIL campaign is not driven by the group’s relative threat to the United States or the scale or inhumane nature of their atrocities. If these were the primary considerations, the public would be far more terrified of and outraged by the narcos. Perhaps the U.S. would be mobilizing 50 nations to purge Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel rather than shielding it from prosecution, helping it polish off its rivals or even move drugs into the United States.
A good deal of the cartels’ violence is perpetrated ritualistically as part of their religion, which is centered, quite literally, on the worship of death. The narcosbuild and support churches all across Mexico to perpetuate their eschatology. One of the cartels, the Knights Templar (whose name evokes religious warfare), even boasts about its leader’s death and resurrection. When cartel members are killed, they are buried in lavish mausoleums, regarded as martyrs and commemorated in popular songs glorifying their exploits in all their brutality. Many of their members view the “martyrs” as heroes who diedresisting an international order that exploits Latin America and fighting the feckless governments that enable it. The cartels see their role as compensating for state failures in governance. The narco gospel, which derives fromCatholicism, is swiftly making inroads in the United States and Central America. In short, the cartels’ ideological disposition is no less pronounced than ISIL’s, if not worse.