During the Cold War era, terrorism and organized crimes were viewed and treated as separate entities until terrorism was identified as a global enemy after 9/11. Before the 9/11 declaration, the groups had elaborate means of channelling their financial needs and expanding their prowess. However, the battle against terrorism crippled their fundraising activities which meant terrorist had to adjust their operations and perhaps engage in organized crimes or form alliances with the latter. The restrictions prompted terrorists and criminal organizations to evolve and take new approaches to generate funds to combat the global attack on their activities (Prokić, 2017). Therefore, organized crimes and terrorist activities intermingle, and they all together threaten the security and peace of nations. It is essential to explore the features and characteristics of organized crimes and terrorism to understand the interrelationship between the two entities.
Terrorism involves force, violence and intimidation against people or state in the quest for political ambitions. On the other hand, organized crime occurs when a group of criminals coordinate and engage in severe offences with the motive of financial or material gains. Although different ambitions might propel the groups, their activities might be intertwined at some point (ENACTAfrica.org, 2018). For instance, a terrorist group may sell illegal goods to fund their activities while organized groups may use violence and intimidation to enhance their profit-making activities. According to Puttonen & Romiti (2020), organized criminal groups dynamically change and adapt to development to the extent that they pose international threats to economic growth, security and stability. Criminal organized groups may employ the tactics of terrorists to boost their operation, and the vice versa may also happen. Therefore, terrorists and organized criminals may collaborate, co-exists, co-operate or converge with each group driven by their objectives. It may be sensible for the groups to consult the other in their fields of specialization. Terrorist can use organized gangs to raise funds to enhance their political and religious ideologies, and organized criminals can utilize the terrorist’s tactics to boost profits.
Terrorists and organized criminals may form operational alliances when it seems beneficial or may sign treaties when they appear to scramble for familiar territory. Organized crime, just like terrorism costs countries fortunes, leads to death and dispossesses people’s security and prosperity. The activities ranked criminals engage in include human trafficking, financial crimes, cybercrime drug trafficking, illegal immigration, sexual exploitation, extortion and fraud. Organized crime groups’ prevalence in their sector may attract terrorist to borrow some skills (Fromiti, 2018). For instance, a terrorist group may work with organized crime units to identify markets for the sale of illegal drugs. Likewise, organized crime may desire to acquire fighting skills in exchange for market information. Illicit arms are also readily exchanged by terrorist groups and organized crime units, and a lot of violence is accompanied in the transaction (TSO, 2013). The strategy and organization of crime by organized criminals gradually grows and becomes powerful to cause a national and international threat to stability.
Terrorists and organized criminal groups like publicity and instilling fear in people. The criminal entities have dedicated endless efforts to spread their achievement and expand their dominance. The mass media have heavily contributed to glorifying crime units. According to White (2020), the mass media can enhance publicity and amplify the negative impacts of criminals’ activities. Mass media also causes the imitation theory, which solidifies the relationship between organized crime and terrorism. When terrorists’ actions are reported in the press, it sparks ideologies in organized crime groups, encouraging them to apply the same tactics. The criminal groups set stages for each other and trigger an action that was initially a concept in mind. Social media priming of organized crime and terrorism also contributes to influencing the parties to take chances of flourishing their endeavours. The criminal groups have also used social media platforms to recruit people and expand their publicity. The technique has also lured some organized criminals groups into terrorist units when they perceive some reward by joining the quest. Vulnerable people, such released offenders, may again enter a terrorist gang in search of financial stability.
Additionally, organized crime groups may grow and shift their motive to a political one depending on the prevailing circumstances. For instance, terror groups that punish a state for vengeance may console an organized crime with similar grudges when their members are incarcerated. Therefore, organized crime units can amalgamate with terrorist when it seems advantageous. Terrorists can also participate in organized crime such as extortion, smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking and illegal trade of natural resources to fund their organization (Hennessy & Kessels, 2017). For instance, the Taliban have established mutual networks with criminal groups to satisfy their honour, ideology and make profits. The Taliban numerously engage in crime such as smuggling, kidnapping and extortion and protect organized crime groups. The tactical change in the Taliban’s approach emerged since crime frustrates the development of nations and therefore aligns with their political ambition. As part of the Taliban’s jihad, they have crafted ways to intensify criminal activities by selling drugs and trafficking people. The Taliban have protected and taxed the opium trade in Afghanistan and increased the availability of weapons and explosives, increasing tension. As a protective measure, the Taliban attack military convoys and kidnap certain people to ensure the success of opium trade. Consequently, the Taliban have won favour from organized criminal groups and have encouraged a significant number of people to form alliances (Peters, 2010).
Organized crimes and terrorism flourish in countries with weak political structures. The corrupt environment provides a suitable environment where terrorist and organized criminals can co-exist and coordinate their activities. The lack of proper inspection of goods across borders has created elaborate routes for exchanging weapons, drugs and explosives which serve as a unifying factor between terrorists and organized crime gangs. Some African countries, South Asia, Western Europe and Southeast Asia are some victims where crime has flourished due to political gaps (Curtis et al., 2004). As seen in the discussion, there is a close relationship between terrorism and organized crime, and they all contributed to insecurity.
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