To what extent do global terrorism and organised criminality converge?

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To what extent do global terrorism and organised criminality converge?
  353   Luis de la Corte Ibáñez  Institute of Forensic Sciences and of Security of the Autonomous University of  Madrid. E-mail: TO WHAT EXTENT DO GLOBAL TERRORISM AND ORGANISED CRIMINALITY CONVERGE?: GENERAL PARAMETERS AND CRITI󰀭CAL SCENARIOS  To what extent do global terrorism and organised criminality converge?: ge-neral parameters and critical scenarios Despite their differences in terms of motivations and methods, historical examples indicate that terrorism and organized criminality can converge in several ways. Indeed, some analysts think that both threats can no longer be studied in isolation. is report explores the hypothesis of a crime-terror nexus for the special case of global (jihadi) terrorism. ree types of convergence are examined: involvement in criminal activities by terrorists, transformation of terrorists groups into hy-brid or purely criminal organizations and cooperation between organized criminal organizations and terrorist groups. Finally, the study ends with a section dedicated to the cases of Af-Pak, Iraq and Western Sahel, presented as examples of privileged scenarios for interaction between global terrorism and organized crime. global terrorism, organized crime, convergence, terrorism-organized crime nexus, drug trafc, kidnappings, criminality, failed states.  354 TO WHAT EXTENT DO GLOBAL TERRORISM AND ORGANISED CRIMINALITY CONVERGE?: GENERAL PARAMETERS AND CRITICAL SCENARIOS󰀱. Introduction T  wo lines converge when their courses interchange or they meet at one point. is may also occur with the paths that terror and other criminal activities plot out. Without establishing a wholly new subject, the study of the actual –or potential- convergence between terrorist activity and organised crime has been gai-ning interest in recent times. As Walter Laqueur 󰀱  has stated –a renowned historian to  whom we owe some of the first and the most significant academic studies on political violence: while up to fifteen years ago, all concepts postulated a sharp division between terrorism and organised crime 󰀲 , with the passing of time the border that separates them has become increasingly blurred. In recent years, the change in perspective has gone so far that some experts suggest the necessity of doing away with this distinction, at least for certain cases of a clear symbiosis between one phenomenon and the other. Some of the information and focuses provided by the mass media tend to reinforce this new approach, whether by means of news reports that assure us the involvement of terrorist groups and organisations in typical activities of common or organised cri-me, or by attributing characteristics of an unquestionably Mafioso nature to others. In short, the opinion has started to spread that the convergence between terro-rism and organised crime could come to be a growing trend within the geo-political framework inaugurated at the end of the XX century  󰀳 . ere are various factors for change that would push us toward that direction. On the one hand, the end of the Cold War and the proliferation of anti-terrorist laws have drastically reduced the wi-llingness of States to sponsor terrorist groups or organisations, inducing them to use other means of financing (including those relating to conducting illegal activities). 󰀱 LAQUEUR, Walter. e New Terrorism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀹.󰀲 Hereinafter the terms “organised crime”, “organised criminality” and “organised delinquency”  will be taken to be synonymous expressions. 󰀳 MAKARENKO, Tamara. “e Crime-Terror Continuum: Tracing the Interplay between Trans-national Organised Crime and Terrorism”, Global Crime, vol. 󰀶, nº 󰀱, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀴, 󰀱󰀲󰀹-󰀱󰀴󰀵.  355 Luis de la Corte Ibáñez To what extent do global terrorism and organised criminality converge In a complementary sense, the transition towards a globalised economy and world and the consequent emergence of a transnational form of organised criminality has considerably increased the possibilities for terrorists to become involved in illegal bu-sinesses 󰀴 . ese arguments explain that the connection between international terro-rism and transnational organised crime is a threat that is contemplated in most of the recent strategic documents. Basing ourselves on data, evidence and research that has been available to date, this paper initially examines to what extent the convergence with organised crime is rather more than a hypothesis for the case of global terrorism, and with which expressions and modalities that phenomenon can be demonstrated. 󰀲. Some preliminary conceptual clarifications Conventionally speaking, the terms “terrorism” and “organised criminality” are the name given to activities that are partly similar and partly different. Leaving the abso-lutely exceptional examples of individual terrorism to one side, amongst the features that are common to organised crime and terrorism we can highlight their relationship  with illegal and “organised” activities, those that result from a concerted, coordinated and recidivist form of action carried out by a set of individuals or a human group  with a minimal degree of structure. Very often, furthermore, factors appear that are associated with one essential component of the terrorism, such as practising violence. Such similarities go to show why some penal codes define terrorism as a sub-type of organised criminality, which would be distinguished from the general type of it in two essential aspects: a more direct and systematic relationship with the continuous practice of violent activities or armed actions (used to make population, or one sector of the population fearful) and the association of such practices with a political pur-pose. Given the significant differences that these two attributes usually impose on the functioning of terrorist organisations, one alternative focus prefers to take its exclusive reference point for the concept of “organised criminality” to be those criminal pheno-mena that, in addition to being attributed to collective or organised individuals, have the unique or main objective of obtaining and accumulating economic or material be-nefits 󰀵 . Starting from this second focal point, which we will make use of from no won, organised criminality carries on two types of complementary illegal activities. e first ones are those that seek economic gains for the particular criminal organisations and that take up most of their time. is includes a wide range of criminal options: 󰀴 SANDERSON, omas M. “Transnational Terror and Organized Crime: Blurring the Lines”, SAIS Review vol. 󰀲󰀴, nº 󰀱, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀴, pp. 󰀴󰀹–󰀶󰀱.󰀵 For further qualifications regarding the definition of organised criminality, see DE LA CORTE, Luis and GIMÉNEZ-SALINAS, Andrea. Evolución y claves de la delincuencia organi-zada” “Crime Inc. Evolution and key factors in organised criminality”, Barcelona, Ariel, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀱.  356 Revista del Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos Núm. 1 / 2013illegal trade of all types, extortionate practices, robberies, attacks and (paid) killings, labour and sexual exploitation, frauds and swindles, unlawful financial services, etc. Secondly, such lucrative activities are usually complemented by some acts that are not always remunerated, which perform significant facilitating or protective functions: essentially corruption, violence and money laundering  󰀶 . In turn, the term “terrorism” tends to designate a particular type of violent activity: although, by extension, it is frequently used to refer to those individuals, groups and organisations that systematically practice it. Above all, what distinguishes acts of te-rrorism from other types of violent action is their capacity to provoke an intense social or psychological impact (anxiety or fear) that is disproportionate with respect to the physical damage caused to the people or objects chosen as targets of the aggression 󰀷 .  As has already been indicated, most of the groups and organisations that resort to te-rrorism do so being encouraged by the argument of conditioning the attitudes and the form of behaviour of governments or of political communities. For this reason, and in accordance with numerous institutional and academic definitions, all of our references to terrorist activities and entities will correspond to cases that include an exclusively political motivation or that ties together politics and religion 󰀸 . During recent decades, organised criminality has undergone an intense process of trans-nationalisation, which is the result of three trends that have been developed: a substantial increase in cooperation between criminal groups and organisations with a different location; the emergence of various unlawful global markets, with some busi-ness stages distributed in different regions of the world (the best example is provided by the worldwide trade in drugs); and the appearance of criminal organisations with an active presence or implementation on an international scale 󰀹 .  Albeit with less generality than that corresponding to the transnational develop-ment of organised criminality, the evolution of terrorism in the XX century has also created its particular patterns of trans-nationalisation. e accumulated evidence in-dicates that these patterns have thrown up quite a few connections with the world of organised crime. Nevertheless, this analysis will only be concerned with the criminal 󰀶 DE LA CORTE and GIMÉNEZ-SALINAS, op. cit., pp. 󰀳󰀱󰀹-󰀳󰀴󰀰. 󰀷 is definition is inspired by the parameters set out by diverse studies such as: REINARES, Fernando, Terrorismo y antiterrorismo [Terrorism and anti-terrorism”, Barcelona, Paidós, 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀸; DE LA CORTE, Luis, La lógica del terrorismo [“e logic of terrorism”], Madrid, Alianza, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀶; Trans-national Terrorism, Security, and the Rule of Law, Defining Terrorism , Brussels, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀸. Available at:󰀳󰀥󰀲󰀰Del󰀥󰀲󰀰󰀴.pdf 󰀸 A similar option when it comes to deal with the subject of this research can be found at BO-VENKERK, Frank y CHAKRA, Bashir Abou, “Terrorism and organized crime”, UNODC Forum on Crime and Society, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀴, vol. 󰀴, nº 󰀱 and 󰀲, pp. 󰀳-󰀱󰀶; WILLKINSON, Paul, Political Terrorism, Nueva York, Willey, 󰀱󰀹󰀷󰀴. 󰀹 UNODC. A Transnational Organized Crime reat Assessment, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODOC, Vienna, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀰.  357 Luis de la Corte Ibáñez To what extent do global terrorism and organised criminality converge nexus that entail the latest and the most extreme modality of transnational terrorism: that which some experts have agreed to call “global terrorism”. In general terms, this concept can be applied to any form of terrorism which, taking advantage of the con-ditions of economic, political, informative and cultural interconnection that charac-terise the globalised world of the XXI century, has the determination and the capacity necessary to produce repercussions (psychological, social, informative and political) of a worldwide extent. In empirical terms, the emergence of this class of terrorism appears to be closely linked to the formation of the Al Qaida organisation and of the diffusion and complex mesh of organisations, groups and individuals that have acted under its influence: whether as a consequence of the direct communication and coo-peration with its top leaders or due to mere ideological following  󰀱󰀰 . 󰀳. Modalities of convergence and examples associated with global terrorism Various interpretations have been put on the consideration of the convergence bet- ween terrorism and organised crime, or between organised crime and terrorism. For a long period of time, most of the studies of terrorism that deal with the subject, in largely abstract terms, made use of one of the two opposing hypotheses. In the first one, the convergence between terrorism and organised criminality would be little less than a “ contra natura  ” option. According to the second one, on the other hand, this deals with a spontaneous, quasi-natural tendency. ose in favour of the first position usually seek to justify their theoretical justification by detailing the benefits that may derive from the convergence between one activity and the other, and the similarities between both of them. In contrast, the critics of the convergence hypothesis underli-ne the prejudices that this trend may represent for those involved in it, as well as the differences (in objectives and means) that distinguish the terrorists from organised cri-minals. Nevertheless, the accumulated evidence over several decades of research into terrorist phenomena go beyond the specific type that concern us (global terrorism), showing two main conclusions. Firstly, the convergence between terrorism and organised criminality is neither na-tural nor against nature. e hypothesis that considers this has found empirical confir-mation in more than a few cases. Hence, convergence is an unquestionable possibility and a comparable pattern 󰀱󰀱 . However, the opposing examples are more numerous and 󰀱󰀰 REINARES, Fernando. Terrorismo global [Global terrorism], Madrid: Taurus, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀳.; DE LA CORTE, Luis. “El terrorismo (yihadista) internacional a principios del Siglo XXI: dimensiones y evo-lución de la amenaza”, “International (jihadist) terrorism at the start of the XXI century: dimensions and evolution of the threat” in E. Conde and S. Iglesias (eds.), Terrorismo y legalidad internacional [Terrorism and international legality], Madrid: Dykinson, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀲, pp. 󰀲󰀷-󰀳󰀴. 󰀱󰀱 In this respect see: ROLLINS, John, WYLER, Liana Sun and ROSEN, Seth. “International Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Security reats, U.S. Policy, and Considerations for Congress”, Congressional Research Service, Washington, 󰀵/󰀱󰀰/󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀰. Available at:
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