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Crime terror nexus is composed of two separate bodies that are fused together.  First, it integrates direct involvement in illegal operations whereby terrorists provide funds for conducting such activities. Secondly, it defines the connection between terrorists and individuals that carry out organized crime. In fact, organized criminal gangs have been sharing information and new tactics with their terrorist counterparts. For instance, they have been gaining more knowledge from the failure and success that each of them experience. Moreover, some forms of corporations exist between them. This paper focuses on how the interconnectedness of organized crime together with terrorists, converge to breach international security.

Terrorism and the challenges associated with internationally organized crimes remained minimal in the cold war era. However, “tremendous changes in the international environment at the end of the cold war, and subsequently, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, created conditions that challenged the financing system of terrorism”. The US has also taken decisive steps towards combating terrorism especially in the post September 11th incident. For example, it has been keenly monitoring informal financial transactions, which are used for channeling funds for terrorists. This has partly contributed to the increased relationship between criminal groups and numerous terror groups.

The changing circumstances have also impacted on the operations and effectiveness of international criminal networks. “The nexus between transnational organized crime and terrorism is increasingly becoming complex and sophisticated, which is directly challenging the security of states at national and international level”. Therefore, the complicated crime terror nexus is supposed to be properly examined so that better strategies can be formulated and adopted to deal with it.

Sustainability of Crime Terror Nexus

The crime terror nexus has flourished due to the following reasons. First, they conspire to extort funds from individuals. This trend increased significantly, when state funding of various terrorists and criminal activities started fading towards the last phase of the cold war. Terrorist groups have now diversified their mechanisms of obtaining funds, and organized criminal activities are among the key strategies they employ in collecting funds. “Theoretically, when referring to the relationship between organized crime and terrorism, the nexus most commonly applies to the straightforward application of crime by terrorist groups”. For example, they may carry out drug trafficking and kidnapping of wealthy individuals. They may also commit fraud so that they can access funds. Moreover, the standard features evident in the two groups join them up.

 Organized criminal groups that have been in operation for long and new criminal units relate quite differently to terrorists. Old criminal gangs such as the Russian Mafia have developed complex investment strategies, and they rely on well established territories and states. These criminal groups have adopted a symbiotic relationship with their nations. As such, they have benefited from the stability of their nations which has improved since the end of world war two. “For instance, the Hong Kong Triads have transformed into entrepreneurs in order to adapt to the changing economic conditions, such as the involvement of Triad in interior decoration business”. Another gang in Japan called Yakuza also acts as a “state organ” in the sense that it is used for interfering with law enforcement. Hence, it creates some benefits to the criminal gangs. To some extent, the police in Japan also gains directly or indirectly from their activities. Older gangs do not like collaborating with terrorists. For instance, the Russian Mafia can be sited as one of such groups.

The motivations and objectives of terrorists also seem to be different to those of organized criminal gangs, and this can also be used to differentiate them. For example, organized crimes are not preoccupied with challenging public opinion on various political ideas. However, terrorists may be motivated to conduct crime in order to achieve their political ideologies. In this process, organized criminal units may form “in-house” strategies to offer them organizational security. Nonetheless, some recently formed international crime organizations are forging ties with terrorists in order to get logistical support. “Another significant reason is that new transnational groups are likely take advantages of the chaos of war and dysfunctional state functions and generate huge profits from cooperating with terrorists”.

Crime Terror Nexus and International Security

International security has been primarily jeopardized by the prevalence of terrorism and criminal activities in various territories. Terrorism and crime mostly thrive in territories with weak institutions. For example, fallen states have always acted as a haven for clandestine activities such as terrorism and crime.  Many individuals contend that organized crime has its own objectives that are different from those of terrorists. Hence, they treat organized crime as an independent entity that has no connection with terrorism. I contend that these two organizations exhibit some characteristics which indeed demonstrate that they are inextricably related. For example, both of them normally act rationally. Secondly, they employ similar tactics such as kidnapping and assassination. Thirdly, they all contradict state legislations and societal norms. They also have some interchangeable recruitment agencies. Therefore, these groups may struggle to achieve divergent ends, but they possess common facets that demonstrate their interconnectedness.

“Debate continues over whether the potential convergence of terrorism and international crime activities should be perceived as a heightened security threat or a boon for improved detection of both types of entities”. In my view, crime terror nexus has profoundly impacted on the international security due to the following reasons. The convergence of terrorists and several criminal gangs that operate either nationally or internationally has significantly boosted their capacity to jeopardize world security. For example, through their sophisticated interactions, they have been able to obtain money which they use to formulate and implement their plans.

This convergence also means that they have strong networks that enable them to expand the level and nature of their clandestine activities. For example, the US is at risk due to the potential connections between terrorists and other criminal gangs. The capacity of terrorists to gain and use nuclear weapons has also been enhanced by the combined utilization of the resources gathered by both terror groups and their criminal gang counterparts.

Besides world security, the global economy may be impacted on negatively by the amalgamation of criminal and terrorists’ resources. This can occur since some organized criminals have become entrepreneurs. In this case, they have secretly invested in various aspects of the world economy. As such, they can easily conspire to commit serious economic crimes. For example, some criminal gangs have been manufacturing and supplying counterfeit items, which have brought negative competition especially, in the world market.  The world economy is also connected to world peace in the sense that they affect each other in one way or another. For example, a weak economy can spark off upheavals in the world. As more finances are channeled towards combating terrorists and criminals, less money is reinvested into the world economy. This trend can lead to a significant economic decline.

“Crime-terrorism nexus issues are also at play in several regions of the world where the U.S’ military and other U.S’ government agencies have presence, including the active combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq”. In this case, terrorists facilitate criminal activities by creating a chaotic environment where criminal gangs can easily operate. For example, in Somali, crime is partly fueled by the high level unrest and lawlessness created by the Al Shabaab terrorists.

It has also been noted that the nature of the terrorist convergence with the criminal gangs keep on mutating. This has crippled the capacity of various agencies to combat crime terrorism nexus. For example, crime has been employed as a way of extending the ideologies of terrorists. In this regard, some terror groups perceive their ideologies to be inline with some forms of criminal ventures like drug trafficking. Current literature indicates that some Islamist extremists have justifications for their involvement in computer-generated fraud and ferrying of drugs. For instance, Hezbollah fatwa mentioned that, “If we cannot kill them with guns, so will kill them with drugs”. A Taliban convict called Khan Mohammed justified his peddling of heroin on the basis that it was a mechanism of fighting Jihad War. Some Islamist terrorists also believe that it is acceptable to rob people that do not practice their religious principles. For example, they believe that if they can kill their opponents then they can also take their properties.

Apart from terrorist groups, criminal gangs may also diversify their goals from economic to political motives. The criminal groups may also relate with terrorists and various governments in order to enhance the achievement of their aspirations. Alternatively, organized criminals may launch attacks without seeking foreign support, and this can make them be regarded as terrorists. Criminal syndicates have an effective expertise to conduct terrorist activities. Such expertise is manifested in their sophisticated security organization as well as the lethal weapons they possess. Such a criminal gang can simply direct such machinery towards gaining political motives. “The result is either a truly evolved criminal-turned-terrorist group or a “fused” criminal-terrorist organization that seeks to develop ties with like-minded ideological movements”. As criminal gangs increasingly focus on terrorist attacks, they lose economic ties, and with time, they become totally disillusioned especially when they cannot fulfill their political aspirations. This encourages them to engage more in terrorism as a way for retaliating. Consequently, international security is further weakened.

Some people contend that the close interaction that terrorists have with criminals may not in any way worsen the state of international security. Such individuals contend that criminal gangs only interact on business matters and nothing beyond that. This makes criminals not to have sustainable linkage with terrorists. On the other hand, terrorist officials believe that criminal gangs can utilize financial motivation to encourage some terrorists to join them.  Moreover, such relationships can also make the police to access terrorists. Organized crimes are also money minded, and they do not like other operations that do not have financial attachments. Therefore, those individuals believe that terrorists collaboration with organized criminals impacts negatively on the operations of each of them. “Some have further argued that as illicit networks expand, they are challenged by several operational limitations, including problems of trust, distance, coordination, and security”.  They also see these constraints as weaknesses that may expose the convergence of organized criminal groups to security personnel. Hence, this may make them vulnerable to arrests. In some cases, their operations may be disrupted considerably if they are detected.

In my view, terrorist and criminals are highly intelligent, and they know who to have a partnership with. They also know to conceal their identities, for example, they use money laundering transactions such as ‘hawala’ exchange programs instead of normal banking transactions that are subjected to numerous scrutiny and verifications. Courier services also reduce their level of exposure to security officials. Terrorists are also known to be rigid when it comes to honoring their ideological believes. Hence, it would not be easy for them to be enticed to join criminal gangs as some people claim.

 The structure and the number of operations linked with terrorism have increased significantly. For example, apart from carrying out assassination and obliteration of massive properties, terrorists have now extended their activities to the cyber space. They also make use of political corruption to avoid any possible interference from the ruling class. With tremendous improvement in communication channels, it has become complicated to track the activities of terrorists and many groups that engage in clandestine activities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, crime terror nexus is getting more complicated, and it might spiral out of control if decisive measurers are not taken to combat it. “Threats posed by a crime-terrorism nexus may be particularly challenging, as the scale and nature of their cooperation may vary widely and anecdotal evidence serves as the basis for current understanding of the problem”. The world economy is also likely to be crippled by the activities perpetrated by terrorists and various organized criminals. Therefore, “countering money laundering as the utmost target in the process of ending terrorism and organized crime should concentrate on information exchange and copy successful practices among different agencies at a national and international level”. Global security should, therefore, be a concern of all territories. This is because security problems in one area may affect other territories economically and politically.

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