Organized Crime and Terrorism

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Date Submitted: 03/01/2012 12:16 PM

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"You can take their blood; then why not take their property?"

- Abu Bakar Bashir, Jemaah Islamiyah's reputed spiritual head

This very statement throws light on terrorist group’s growing inclination towards Organised Crime.

Tom Clancy in his most recent best-selling novel, The Teeth of the Tiger, weaves a tale that focuses on the interrelationship between transnational organized crime and transnational terrorism. Is this connection just a figment of Clancy’s rich imagination or should we scholars and practitioners be paying more attention to the blurring of the lines between these two phenomena? Currently research on these two types of “global bads” appears to be proceeding independently, although there are a number of individuals and groups (e.g., Shelley 1999; Stanislawski 2004; Sullivan and Bunker 2003; US House of Representatives 2000) beginning to urge the importance of exploring these linkages.

According to the United Nations Secretariat (see Mueller 1998), terrorism is considered a form of transnational organized crime, indeed, the most visible and openly aggressive form of such activities which include illicit trafficking in arms, drugs, and people; money laundering; hijacking; bribery and corruption; and pirating of intellectual properties. Distinctions that are made between the two global bads often focus on motivation— transnational organized crime is viewed as having as its primary purpose the pursuit of financial gain or profit while transnational terrorists act out of some kind of political/religious/ethnic motivation. But, then, what about narco-terrorism and ransommotivated hostage-taking which serve as sources of funding for a large number of terrorist organizations? Consider the example of the FARC in Colombia which currently survives thanks to funding received from the drug cartels in exchange for protection. And what about the exchange of drugs for weapons that is a common enterprise on...