Now clearly, for any terrorist operation, you require weapons of all kinds. Terrorists do receive a lot of funding from various sources. That is why you see that many terrorist attacks do happen. Their funding helps them to acquire weapons through various ways and some of them include
Smuggling of weapons remains one of the biggest sources of weapons of terrorists. Through various illegal channels weapons are transported to terrorists. Weapons may be smuggled from the arsenals of countries where security may not be very tight. There could be many sources and many channels to smuggle weapons. Sympathizers of terrorist ideologies within many armed forces may aid the smuggling of weapons as well. Corruption has a big role to play when it comes to smuggling. Bribing officials to turn a blind eye while weapons, sometimes which are smuggled through in large quantities indeed abets terrorism.
Stealing weapons has been a new way by which terrorists acquire weapons. Organizations like the LTTE in SriLanka used to steal weapons in order for them to sustain their terrorist operations. One of their biggest robberies remain the looting of a ship bound for SriLanka from Tanzania. This particular ship contained 35,000 artillery shells that were meant for the SriLankan armed forces in order to quell this threat caused by the LTTE. The LTTE looted it on the high seas and stole all the shells on board. The LTTE used these shells on the SriLankan Army. How ironic when you think of the fact that the SriLankan government had paid for all those artillery shells.
3. Arms Dealers
International arms dealers are in a way an offset of smuggling. International arms dealers use smuggling as a means to supply weapons to terrorists. Weapon manufacturers do not generally supply weapons to non-state actors, especially those which have terrorist links. International arms dealers however do not have such a moral high-ground and supply to anybody that has the money to purchase arms. Arms dealers make huge supplies of weapons to terrorists through various means including smuggling.
4. Private Military Companies
Nobody ever thinks that Private military companies can be ferrying weapons for dangerous terrorists. Private military companies are also called Private Security Companies. Known examples include Blackwater USA (which has now been renamed to Xe Services), DynCorp, Executive Outcomes etc. Private Military Companies like any private industry is profit oriented and they do lack any moral code of conduct while operating. Reports have shown that terrorists have employed Private Military Companies to transport weapons to them and have also bought weapons directly from the Private Military Companies. Thus we see the role of the Private Military Companies in the supplying of weapons to terrorists.
5. Left over weapons from disbanded regimes
Weapons possessed by the terrorists are likely to be weapons which were in the possession of terrorists long back. When old regimes were defeated, its vast arsenals may have been sacked before it completely fell and these weapons may be used by terrorists. For example, when Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was put to an end, its arsenals were sacked by various terrorist elements and that is why Iraq has an insurgency problem to date.
Thus we see, terrorists have various ways of acquiring weapons and all these provide a very dangerous mix which aids and abets terrorism.