Terrorism and Organized Crime

• Crime and terrorism can potentially have a very close linkage. While there may or may not always be a linkage between the two, however, both international case studies and those in India do point towards it.
• If we look at some of the regions in the country affected by terrorism, this linkage becomes apparent. In the Northeast, extortion is the fundamental basis for funding all forms of terrorism. In addition to this, kidnapping has been used extensively for spreading terror and raising funds. Human trafficking, drug trafficking and gun running are some of the other criminal activities that have been common in these areas.
• In J&K, counterfeit currency has been a major source of funding terrorism.
• In the Maoist terror movements, extortion is yet again a common phenomenon. They have also indulged in robberies of banks to fund their movement. There have also been reports of cuts being enforced on drug yielding crops in the region.
• The Indian Mujahideen has also resorted to crime to raise funds. This includes robberies, kidnappings, etc.
• There are also a number of insurgent groups which over a period of time have morphed into crime syndicates. What began as an ideological movement is now merely a means of generating profit. This is especially the case with insurgent groups in Northeast India.

Organized Crime and Terrorism (International Scenario)
• In the post 9/11 era, the United States has exerted considerable pressure on states to prevent charities from funding terrorists, and has cracked down on both governments and charitable organizations that have yet to stop such activities. Over 100 countries are cooperating in the global war on terrorism, and are trying to close down sources of terrorist funding. To replace this revenue and the financial support from states that are now unable or unwilling to back them, terrorist groups look elsewhere for financing.
• This crackdown on terrorist financing has led some terrorists to transform their organizations by creating “in-house” criminal capabilities in order to generate revenue; these units then engage organized crime groups to meet financial and operational needs.
• The expanding forces of globalization are enabling transformation and convergence through rapid communication, travel, surveillance, and information access. The growth of weak or failing states exacerbates this tendency. The absence of the rule of law in places such as Somalia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan provides ideal conditions for the blending of criminal and terrorist activities
• The nexus between terrorism and organized crime is further enabled through the widespread availability of small and light arms that can be both trafficked for money or used in operations.
• The above trends have led groups such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah to develop their own in-house criminal capabilities. While Hezbollah has been involved with methamphetamine labs and cigarette smuggling in the United States and Canada, al Qaeda has well-developed connections with criminal syndicates in Central Asia that include Pakistani and Afghani opium traffickers.
• Maritime piracy represents an area where the mixing of militant Islamic terrorism and crime can converge with potentially severe consequences for global military and economic security. Given heavy concentrations of al Qaeda cells and radical Islamic sympathizers, shipping lanes and pre-existing criminality, it comes as no surprise that Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, India and Nigeria experience most of the world’s maritime piracy attacks.
• The narcotics industry remains the most common and lucrative source of revenue to terrorists groups. Narcotics remains the most common and most lucrative form of organizedcrime used by terrorists groups such as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), al Qaeda, and Hezbollah. In addition, terrorist groups participate in other forms of crime ranging from petty theft to the mining and distribution of conflict diamonds in AfricaThe dramatic spike in opium cultivation in Afghanistan over the years provides yet more evidence of the terrorism-narcotics nexus.
• Both organized crime and terrorist groups run in the same circles—they already operate outside of the law and they often need the same re-sources, including: false identification, shipping documents, operators, transportation networks, and counter-surveillance techniques. Terrorist groups just beginning to develop their own revenue generation enterprises often come into contact (sometimes hostile) with criminal elements who generally have reliable revenue streams.
• Terror groups have embraced (either by choice or necessity) a long-stand-ing structural feature of organized crime: working through affiliated op-erational cells which have minimal connections to the leadership. Loosely networked cell structures effectively frustrate law enforcement and intelli-gence penetration. This structure also enables tremendous operational flex-ibility, in stark contrast to the rigidity characteristic of governmental law enforcement and intelligence forces. This flexibility allows terrorist and organized crime groups to set up or close down operations overnight, maintain distance between operational and planning cells, move and use financial resources quickly and secretively, and make decisions without headquarters’ approval. This distribution of power and authority also re-duces the possibility of a decapitating strike that could close down the organization
• While criminal and terrorist groups do appear to be moving closer together and have shared strategies, tactics, and resources, significant roadblocks to further cooperation exist. There remain cultural, operational, and practical differences between the two groups. No organized crime group is built around adherence to religious or ideological tenets, while groups like al-Qaeda or Hamas are fundamentally based on religious beliefs and motiva-tions. While ideology, religion and politics form the basis of many terrorist organizations, pure profit is what drives criminal organizations.
• In theory, as the two threats cooperate or mimic each other, it should be helpful for governments to use the lessons learned from fighting each type of organization. In reality, though, the threats are changing daily and both organized crime and terrorist groups are learning from past mistakes while probing recent defenses erected by targeted nations
• In theory, as the two threats cooperate or mimic each other, it should be helpful for governments to use the lessons learned from fighting each type of organization. In reality, though, the threats are changing daily and both organized crime and terrorist groups are learning from past mistakes while probing recent defenses erected by targeted nations


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