How Do Terrorists in Colombia Mainly Finance Their Operations?

Colombia has been plagued by terrorist activity for many years, and a key question has been how these groups finance their operations. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the main sources of terrorist financing in Colombia and how they’ve been able to tap into them.

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What financing methods do terrorist organizations in Colombia use to support their operations? This is a question that has long puzzled counter-terrorism experts and policy-makers. Terrorist organizations in Colombia have resorted to a variety of financing methods over the years, including kidnapping for ransom, extortion, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities. However, it is not clear which of these methods is the most important source of funding for terrorist groups in Colombia.

In order to better understand how terrorist groups in Colombia finance their operations, this paper will examine the three main financing methods used by terrorist organizations in the country: kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and drug trafficking. For each of these financing methods, the paper will provide an overview of how it works and how it has been used by terrorist groups in Colombia. Additionally, the paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each financing method from the perspective of terrorist groups. Based on this analysis, the paper will conclude with a discussion of which financing method is most important for terrorist groups in Colombia.

The History of Terrorism in Colombia

The history of terrorism in Colombia can be traced back to the early 1960s, when leftist guerrillas took up arms against the Colombian government. For more than 50 years, various rebel groups have battled successive Colombian administrations in a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions of Colombians.

In recent years, the terrorist threat in Colombia has largely been emanating from two groups: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Although both groups are listed as terrorist organizations by the United States and other countries, they differ significantly in their objectives and areas of operation.

The FARC is a Marxist-Leninist organization that emerged from peasant self-defense groups in the early 1960s. The group’s stated goal is to overthrow the Colombian government and replace it with a Marxist regime. The FARC is believed to have been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks over the years, including bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations. The group is also suspected of involvement in the illegal drug trade.

The ELN is a smaller terrorist group that was founded in 1964 by a group of radical Roman Catholic priests. The ELN’s aims are similar to those of the FARC, but it has never enjoyed the same level of popular support or military success as its Marxist rival. Like the FARC, the ELN is involved in Colombia’s illegal drug trade and has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks over the years.


The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC, is a terrorist organization that has been operating in Colombia for over 50 years. The FARC is responsible for a wide range of terrorist activities, including kidnapping, bombings, and drug trafficking. Despite its reputation, the FARC does not have a lot of money. In fact, the Colombian government estimates that the organization only has about $300 million in funding.

So where does the FARC get its money? The answer is threefold: kidnapping, drug trafficking, and donations. Kidnapping is the FARC’s primary source of income, and the group has reportedly kidnapped over 3,000 people since 1990. The FARC also earns a significant amount of money from drug trafficking; it is estimated that the group controls up to 60% of the cocaine trade in Colombia. Finally, the FARC also relies on donations from sympathizers and supporters.


The Colombian group known as the National Liberation Army, or ELN, is the country’s last major rebel group. The group has been fighting the Colombian government since 1964, making it the oldest active rebel group in Latin America. The ELN is thought to have between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters and is active in about a third of Colombia’s provinces.

The ELN is a Marxist-Leninist group that is critical of what it sees as the exploitation of Colombia’s poor by the country’s elites. It also opposes what it considers to be the U.S. imperialistic presence in Colombia. The group finances its operations through a combination of kidnapping, extortion, and coca cultivation and drug trafficking.


The AUC is a terrorist group in Colombia that is mainly financed through drug trafficking, extortion, and kidnapping. The group has been responsible for numerous human rights violations and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.


The EPL, or the ELN, is a guerrilla group in Colombia that has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. The group is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and Colombia. The ELN’s stated objectives are a radical change in Colombia’s political and economic system, including land reform and the nationalization of key industries. The group is believed to have approximately 2,000–3,000 members, making it the second-largest guerrilla group in Colombia after the FARC.

The ELN operates primarily in remote rural areas and has a presence in approximately 11% of Colombia’s municipalities. Its main area of operations is in the Catatumbo region of Norte de Santander province, where it controls several major cocaine trafficking routes. The group also has a presence in Antioquia, Chocó, Cauca, Meta, Nariño, and Arauca provinces. In recent years, the ELN has expanded its operations into urban areas such as Bogotá and Medellín.

The ELN finances its operations primarily through kidnapping for ransom and extortion. The group also relies on proceeds from drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as theft of crude oil from pipelines and illegal gold mining. Kidnappings carried out by the ELN increased significantly between 2012 and 2016, with more than 500 people abducted during that period.

The National Liberation Army

The National Liberation Army, commonly referred to as the ELN, is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist terrorist group that has been in operation since 1964. The group’s main source of financing is kidnapping for ransom. According to the U.S. State Department, the ELN was responsible for more kidnappings than any other terrorist group in the world in 2016. The group has also been involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and other criminal activities.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

Since the 1960s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—better known by its Spanish acronym, FARC—have been engaged in an armed conflict against the Colombian government. In recent years, however, FARC has increasingly been involved in drug trafficking and kidnappings for ransom, activities that amount to terrorist acts.

There is no one answer to the question of how terrorist groups finance their operations. In the case of FARC, financing comes from a variety of sources, including drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and other criminal activities.

Narco-trafficking is perhaps the most significant source of funding for FARC. The group has long been involved in the cultivation and production of cocaine, which it then smuggles into neighboring countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador. From there, the cocaine is shipped to Central America and Mexico before making its way into the United States.

FARC also generates income through kidnapping for ransom. In many cases, these kidnappings are carried out by so-called “narco-terrorists”—individuals who are involved in both drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Victims are often taken from middle- or upper-class families and held for ransom payments that can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars.

In addition to drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom, FARC also engages in other criminal activities such as extortion. The group often targets Colombians living in rural areas, demanding “protection payments” from them in exchange for not harming their crops or property. FARC also extorts money from businesses operating in areas under its control.

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is a right-wing paramilitary group in Colombia. The AUC was formed in 1997 as an umbrella organization of existing paramilitary groups. Its purpose was to protect Colombian citizens and economic interests from rebel groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The AUC is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia and the United States. The AUC has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including forced displacement, murder, rape, and torture. In 2003, the AUC announced a ceasefire and began negotiating a peace deal with the Colombian government. However, negotiations broke down in 2006 and the AUC resumed its campaign of violence.

The AUC finances its operations primarily through extortion, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. It also receives support from agricultural landowners, businesses, and political parties.

The Common Financing Methods Used by Terrorist Groups in Colombia

The Colombian government has been fighting against terrorist groups within its borders for many years now. These groups finance their operations through a variety of methods, some of which are more common than others. Here is a look at some of the ways that these groups raise money to support their activities.

kidnapping for ransom: This is one of the most common methods used by terrorist groups in Colombia to finance their operations. They often target wealthy individuals or foreign nationals, and demand a large sum of money in exchange for the safe return of the victim.

extortion: This is another common tactic used by terrorist groups in Colombia. They will often threaten businesses or individuals with violence if they do not pay them a certain amount of money. This can be especially effective if the group is targeting a business that relies heavily on security, such as a construction company working in a dangerous area.

drug trafficking: Many terrorist groups in Colombia are involved in the drug trade, either producing and selling drugs themselves or providing protection for those who do. This is an especially lucrative form of financing for these groups, as drugs are in high demand and can be sold for a high price.

illegal logging: Some terrorist groups have taken to illegal logging in order to finance their activities. They will clearcut large areas of forest without permission, and then sell the timber on the black market. This can be difficult to stop, as it is often hard to track where the timber has come from.

These are just some of the ways that terrorist groups in Colombia finance their operations. Others include stealing cattle, robbing banks, and carrying out heists on transportation vehicles carrying valuable goods.

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