New publications: M. Levitt, ‘Crime Links Aid Counter-Terror Efforts’

Abstract: In October 2008, after a two-year joint investigation by U.S. and Colombian authorities, the Colombian government arrested thirty-six individuals on money laundering and drug charges. According to authorities, this network — comprised of Lebanese expatriates —was more than a traditional criminal syndicate, and was shipping a portion of its profits back to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

These types of cases — where terrorist groups and organized crime networks are closely intertwined — are growing far more common. These “hybrid” organizations — part terrorist group, part organized crime network — are significant challenges to law enforcement, militaries, and policymakers.

While this growing linkage is certainly a dangerous trend from the U.S. perspective, it also presents opportunities for policymakers. As the nexus of terrorism and criminal activity intensifies, targeting terrorist groups’ criminal activities becomes an increasingly effective strategy. Terrorist networks are becoming transnational; a key challenge in confronting them is to achieve international cooperation in counterterrorism initiatives. By capitalizing on terrorists’ criminal activity, governments can leverage their strategies of international cooperation and diplomatic engagement to gain broader support against converging criminal and terrorist groups.

Full article, published by Oxford Analytica, is available here.

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