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Old 06-12-2007   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Terrorist Precursor Crimes

CRS, 24 May 07: Terrorist Precursor Crimes
Quote:
Terrorist groups, regardless of ideological ilk, geographical location, or organizational structure, have certain basic needs in common: funding, security, operatives/support, propaganda, and means and/or appearance of force. In order to meet these needs, terrorists engage in a series of activities, some of which are legal, many of which are not. Terrorist precursor crimes, offenses committed to facilitate a particular attack or promote a terrorist campaign’s objectives, are thought to be often carried out far away from the primary theater of conflict associated with a terrorist group. Much of the precursor activity, especially with regard to crimes conducted for the purpose of fundraising, takes place in wealthy Western countries, including the United States. Precursor crimes, known and/or alleged, include various fraud schemes, petty crime, identity and immigration crimes, the counterfeit of goods, narcotics trade, and illegal weapons procurement, amongst others. The implications of domestically occurring terrorist precursor crimes on the current threat environment, and specifically the United State’s security posture, are not fully understood....
Along the same lines, here are a couple of good papers (2 years old) from NIJ:

Methods and Motives: Exploring Links Between Transnational Organized Crime & International Terrorism
Quote:
The nexus with transnational organized crime is increasingly a focus for security planners in their analyses of terror groups. Their approach is best described by the phrase “methods, not motives.” While the motives of terrorists and organized criminals remain divergent most often, our research indicates this is not always the case. For that reason, this report argues that such a general approach has become too restrictive and can be misleading since the interaction between terrorism and organized crime is growing deeper and more complex all the time. In short, the lines of separation are no longer unequivocal.

The report analyzes the relationship between international organized crime and terrorism in a systematic way in order to highlight the shortcomings of the “methods, not motives” argument. In so doing, the report considers the factors that most closely correspond to crime-terror interaction and identifies those regions of developed and developing states most likely to foster such interactions. Likewise, the paper will suggest an evolutionary spectrum of crime-terror interactions that serves as a common basis for discussion of such often-used terms as “nexus.”

The centerpiece of the report is a groundbreaking methodology for analysts and investigators to overcome this growing complexity, identify crime-terror interactions more quickly and to assess their importance with confidence. The approach is derived from a standard intelligence analytical framework, and has already proven its utility in law enforcement investigations.

The report is the product of a recently concluded and peer-reviewed 18-month NIJ-sponsored research project, and includes empirical evidence drawn from numerous case studies developed in the course of the research program.
Crimes Committed by Terrorist Groups: Theory, Research, and Prevention
Quote:
A decline in state-sponsored terrorism has caused many terrorist organizations to resort to criminal activity as an alternative means of support. This study examines terrorists’ involvement in a variety of crimes ranging from motor vehicle violations, immigration fraud, and manufacturing illegal firearms to counterfeiting, armed bank robbery, and smuggling weapons of mass destruction. Special attention is given to transnational organized crime. Crimes are analyzed through the routine activity perspective and social learning theory. These theories draw our attention to the opportunities to commit crime and the criminal skills necessary to turn opportunity into criminality. Through these lenses, the research appraises the "successes” and “failures” of terrorists’ engagement in crime.
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Old 06-12-2007   #2
SteveMetz
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Default Along the Same Lines

I have a bit on the crime/insurgency nexus in my new study Rethinking Insurgency
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Old 06-12-2007   #3
Bill Moore
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Default Thanks Jed and Steve

Jed, I skimmed the documents and both look well worth the time required to read (when time permits).

Steve, I read your paper when you first published it. I have a highlighted copy somewhere in my files. I'm glad to see you're a member of the SWJ.


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Old 11-16-2007   #4
relative autonomy
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Default Terrorist Finance

Terror Inc. by Loretta Napoleoni

Has anybody read this? I think its a pretty great economic analysis of the other side of the War on Terror/

A teaser quote from the preface:

"...over the last fight years, members of armed organizations have been hunted down like criminals at home by the same political forces that have fostered them abroad; the final aim being to serve the economic interest of the West and its allies, Muslim oligarchies and...the former Soviet Union in the past and Russia at present.This duality provided terror organizations with the motives to strike back and the opportunity to build their own economy. I have defined this phenomenon as the New Economy of Terror, an international network linking the support and logistical systems of armed groups. Today the New Economy of Terror is a fast growing international economic system, with a turnover of about 1.5 trillion, twice the GDP of the United Kingdom, and is challenging Western Hegemony, What we are facing today is the global class between to economic systems on dominant--Western Capitalism--the other insurgent--the New Economy of Terror...
...this scenario is reminiscent of the Crusades, when Western Chirstendom rebelled against the domination of Islam. Behind the religious conflagration, economic forces initiated and sustained the Crusades, enabling the West to repel Islam and begin its march to dominance....the political and economic dominance of the West has hindered the expansion of emerging economic and financial forces in the Muslim world. These forces have forge alliances with Islamist armed groups and hard-line religious leaders in a campaign to rid Muslim countries of Western influence and domestic oligarchic rulers. As in the Crusades, religion is simply the recruitments tool; the real driving force is economics.
The New Economy of Terror has become an integral part of the global illegal economy, generating vast amounts of money. This river of cash flows into traditional economies, primarily the US, where it is recycled. It has devastating effects on Western business ethics, but above all it cements the many links and opens new ones between the New Economy of Terror and legal ones.
September 11 was rude awakening for the world. It has triggered a war against a phenomenal enemy, who will attack whenever possible. What the world has not realized is that this enemy is the product of the polices of dominance adopted by Western governments and their allies--the oligarchic powers of the Middle East and Asia--its monetary lifeline is deeply intertwined with out own economies. The essence of it is being the New Economy of Terror."

Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-11-2008 at 01:47 AM. Reason: Moved thread.
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Old 11-16-2007   #5
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I think the real money numbers are like the real terrorists - it's hard to flush them into full light for all to see. The alternate energy impetus is driven in part by these concerns you have posted, I'm sure of that much at least. Crooks have for a long time washed money with the soap of legitimacy but the collateral markets of clean and dirty gelt seem to take on a life of their own, distinct from their origins and what they create often runs contrary to the intent of their origins. Drugs 'n guns are the two most lucrative venues to be tracked IMHO.
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Old 11-16-2007   #6
Rex Brynen
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Quote:
...this scenario is reminiscent of the Crusades, when Western Chirstendom rebelled against the domination of Islam. Behind the religious conflagration, economic forces initiated and sustained the Crusades, enabling the West to repel Islam and begin its march to dominance....the political and economic dominance of the West has hindered the expansion of emerging economic and financial forces in the Muslim world. These forces have forge alliances with Islamist armed groups and hard-line religious leaders in a campaign to rid Muslim countries of Western influence and domestic oligarchic rulers. As in the Crusades, religion is simply the recruitments tool; the real driving force is economics.
I'm analytically allergic to sweeping, monocausal explanations, and frankly I think this one is especially deeply flawed.

This is not to say that there aren't important confluences and interrelationships between formal and informal economies, criminal activity and armed nonstate groups/terrorism--such groups, like all institutions, need to generate resources. However, to lump (as this seems to do) all Islamist political mobilization to an epiphenomenon of economic interest, to ignore political grievances and domestic settings, and even to lump very different groups together seems to me to be more about sound-bites (or word-bites) than it is about analyzing the real world.

More broadly, I think there is an interesting phenomenon whereby a variety of audiences--politicians, policymakers, the press, the public, even new CT professionals--look for an easy, engaging, sweeping diagnosis and answer to current security challenges. In my view, not only is it NOT that easy, but the real pay off is in understanding precisely the complexities and variations at work.
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Old 11-16-2007   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
More broadly, I think there is an interesting phenomenon whereby a variety of audiences--politicians, policymakers, the press, the public, even new CT professionals--look for an easy, engaging, sweeping diagnosis and answer to current security challenges. In my view, not only is it NOT that easy, but the real pay off is in understanding precisely the complexities and variations at work.
Never mind the payoff - the complexity and puzzle of it is where the fun is.
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Old 11-18-2007   #8
relative autonomy
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
I'm analytically allergic to sweeping, monocausal explanations, and frankly I think this one is especially deeply flawed.

This is not to say that there aren't important confluences and interrelationships between formal and informal economies, criminal activity and armed nonstate groups/terrorism--such groups, like all institutions, need to generate resources. However, to lump (as this seems to do) all Islamist political mobilization to an epiphenomenon of economic interest, to ignore political grievances and domestic settings, and even to lump very different groups together seems to me to be more about sound-bites (or word-bites) than it is about analyzing the real world.

More broadly, I think there is an interesting phenomenon whereby a variety of audiences--politicians, policymakers, the press, the public, even new CT professionals--look for an easy, engaging, sweeping diagnosis and answer to current security challenges. In my view, not only is it NOT that easy, but the real pay off is in understanding precisely the complexities and variations at work.
The book is an economic analysis. it maybe be limited economic determinism to a degree but i don't think that makes it sweeping and monocausal. Napoleni talks about the emergence of codified irregular warfare doctrines how the US and USSR spread them around the world. Between the Cold War (and especially foreign support for corrupt dictators) and wars for national liberation there are a lot of armed groups. she details how they construct a "state-shell" to create and economy to support their efforts and becuase armed groups, and especially armed revolutionary movements, have to out administer their opponents to perpetuate and institutional their opponents illegitimacy. These state shells are linked in many concrete and readily observable ways. Here is just one example from the book:

"In Lebanon in 1972, George Habash hosted one of the first international summits to form a front against Zionism and Western imperialism. Representatives came from the Japanese Red Army, the Iranian Liberation Front, The IRA, the Bader-Mienhof, and the Turkish Revolutionary People's Liberation Front. The participants agreed to set up an international network which included economic and financial cooperation, the exchange of intelligence, sharing safe houses, joint training programs and arms purchases."

The policies of the Cold War and War on Terror fuel armed groups. Armed groups operate in the same clandestine space as organized crime and intelligence agencies. I don't think it is sweeping or monocausual to detail their economic relationships, how those developed into a real economic force and how that force helps to motivate the War on Terror.

I would really suggest actually reading the book before you write it off. You may not agree with her world-systemic analysis but she gives a lot of insight into how armed groups operate and are funded. Also I bet there is some new information in there that you will be happy to have read and learned.
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Old 11-18-2007   #9
Jedburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relative autonomy
....I would really suggest actually reading the book before you write it off. You may not agree with her world-systemic analysis but she gives a lot of insight into how armed groups operate and are funded. Also I bet there is some new information in there that you will be happy to have read and learned.
Well, given the bit from the preface that you quoted at the top of the thread, I'd say that Rex's statement is dead on. Based solely on what you've given us, I'd hesitate to waste the limited time I have to deal with my overloaded reading list on junk.

But I did take the time to look her up, and read through some of her other commentaries and interviews that are readily available. I'll give her that she's a smart woman, and well-informed on the broader general subject. However, the impression that I ultimately come away with is that she's made some seriously flawed assumptions - both about the threat, and about the manner in which the agencies tasked with monitoring and disrupting terrorist financing are dealing with the threat. In some interviews, she comes off as very patronizing with those assumptions of hers. In sum, I perceive her personal political beliefs coloring her analysis to a degree that it contaminates her conclusions.
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Old 11-18-2007   #10
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Originally Posted by relative autonomy View Post
I would really suggest actually reading the book before you write it off. You may not agree with her world-systemic analysis but she gives a lot of insight into how armed groups operate and are funded. Also I bet there is some new information in there that you will be happy to have read and learned.
Actually, I read most of what she has on her website before posting--and, as I said, was not impressed. Partly, this is because her sweeping meta-economic analysis gets in the way of her insights into particular operational and financial intersections.

Moreover, some of her insights into insurgent finances are simply wrong--for example, her throw-away statements on Fateh's diversion of funds in the Arafat era are incorrect, and show no knowledge of the vast amount of OS material on the mechanics, destinations, and purposes of revenue diversions (including a very large IMF report and several available forensic audits). In the same piece she quotes Arafat on Hamas (a completely unreliable source), and in so doing contributes to a grand tradition of exaggerated accounts of Israel's role in Hamas' creation. She also dramatically overstates the magnitude and role of Hamas financing and social services in recruiting (again, an area where there is some OS data).

These might seem nitpicks, but they all point to an inclination to shoehorn data to support a grand thesis, and in so doing distorting the former.
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Old 11-19-2007   #11
relative autonomy
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
These might seem nitpicks, but they all point to an inclination to shoehorn data to support a grand thesis, and in so doing distorting the former.
You're probably right, I am not all that familiar with Hamas to evaluate her or your claims. Her thesis is probably too board to be proven but at the same time i think there is some worth to trying to explain events on the level of world systems. It's nice to have frameworks to locate events within even if the framework flattens some of the complexity.

I would like to know if anyone else knows of another work that tries to explain the macro-economics of the war on terror?

As far as her analysis being tainted by her politics, i don't think that makes different than any other person who has ever written anything. Jedburgh, maybe it just seems like more of a problem becuase you don't agree with her politics? Either way, calling a well researched book by written by a former Fulbright scholar and London School of Economics PhD "junk" is a bit misguided. Every work has it flaws and personal biases but if we only read what we agree with were not really interested in solving problems as much as perusing political agendas and I think therein lies the fundamental dilemma of the war on terror but that is another topic.

At the end of the day, though, I think her basic argument is spot on: that corrupt dictatorships, supported by foreign powers, have kept an increasingly dynamic business class down in the middle east. This political situation, coupled with Cold War meddling in wars of national liberation, created very real motivations for armed to groups to form and try to out-administer their state and create a economy that can provide for the population better than the formal one. These economies came to be linked becuase they operate in the same clandestine space and often share the same broad political goals. The fact that Islamist banks filled the power vacuum in the Central Asia and the Caucuses--two places were the War on Terror existed in a very dramatic fashion before 9/11--after the USSR collapsed and Soviet subsides dried up speaks for itself. I think conflating this with the crusades is a bit much but I think an ambitious economic analysis of the War on Terror is needed and, as far as I know, this is the only work that attempts to do so.
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Old 12-03-2009   #12
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Default The illicit goods trade and it's links to crime/terrorism

For my undergrad poli sci class we have to write a final paper and my prompt is on the worldwide illegal illicit goods trade. Which deals with everything from knockoff parada bags, sunglasses and pirated movies to bogus medinces, auto/aircraft parts, as well as illegal arms, and even humans themselves. Now in my paper I want to deal with this particular trade's links to organized crime and terrorism. However I haven't been able to find many useful sources in the academic library here at the college and the same goes for the internet also.

So I was wondering if someone would mind pointing me in the right direction in terms of finding sources?

Thank you,

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-03-2009 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Thread moved to RFI
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Old 12-03-2009   #13
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Kevin,

This blogsite often comments on the links between crime and terrorism, albeit with a focus on just a few places: http://counterterrorismblog.org/ There is a recent story from The Guardian on cocaine into West Africa and AQIM. A fellow blogsite worth trawling is: http://www.investigativeproject.org/ and www.nefafoundation.org

I have commented before on this reported overlap: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...?t=6290&page=3 'Mice & Men' thread and http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6806 'Gangs & Insurgencies'.

Try Europol: http://www.europol.europa.eu/index.a...home&language=
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Old 12-03-2009   #14
Jedburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin23
For my undergrad poli sci class we have to write a final paper and my prompt is on the worldwide illegal illicit goods trade. Which deals with everything from knockoff parada bags, sunglasses and pirated movies to bogus medinces, auto/aircraft parts, as well as illegal arms, and even humans themselves. Now in my paper I want to deal with this particular trade's links to organized crime and terrorism. However I haven't been able to find many useful sources in the academic library here at the college and the same goes for the internet also.....
RAND published a study earlier this year, Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism
Quote:
This report presents the findings of research into the involvement of organized crime and terrorist groups in counterfeiting a wide range of products, from watches to automobile parts, from pharmaceuticals to computer software. It presents detailed case studies from around the globe in one area of counterfeiting, film piracy, to illustrate the broader problem of criminal—and perhaps terrorist—groups finding a new and not-much-discussed way of funding their nefarious activities. Although there is less evidence of involvement by terrorists, piracy is high in payoff and low in risk for both groups, often taking place under the radar of law enforcement....
The study was funded by the Motion Picture Association, thus the focus on film piracy. However, as the quoted intro blurb states, the study ranged across a wider range of pirated goods than simply films. You may find some sources cited at the end of the book that could be of use - you could also attempt to contact the authors individually and discuss their insights and sourcing.
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Old 12-03-2009   #15
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Terrorist Precursor Crimes: Issues and Options for Congress. CRS, May 24, 2007. (PDF)

Congressional Research Service reports are excellent primers on issues, and for undergrad homework. Most can be found at FAS. Google Scholar and Google News Archives (example) are also invaluable tools for basic undergrad research.

One of the more lucrative illicit schemes in the US for by terrorist financing groups involves tax fraud through tobacco smuggling, see:
Tobacco and Terror: How Cigarette Smuggling is Funding our Enemies Abroad, Prepared by the Republican Staff of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. (PDF)

Last edited by bourbon; 12-03-2009 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011   #16
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RAND, 15 Dec 10: An Economic Analysis of the Financial Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq
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This monograph analyzes the finances of the militant group al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) in Anbar province during 2005 and 2006, at the peak of the group’s power and influence. We draw on captured financial records that recorded the daily financial transactions of both one specific sector within Anbar province and the AQI provincial administration. To our knowledge, this monograph offers one of the most comprehensive assessments of the financial operations of AQI or any other contemporary Islamic militant group....
Note: This post is copied from the Al Qaeda in Iraq thread, as it fits in both areas.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-11-2011 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 11-28-2011   #17
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Default STRATEGY TO COMBAT Transnational Crime

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/defa..._July_2011.pdf

Quote:
In years past, TOC was largely regional in scope, hierarchically structured, and had only occasional links to terrorism. Today’s criminal networks are fluid, striking new alliances with other networks around the world and engaging in a wide range of illicit activities, including cybercrime and providing support for terrorism. Virtually every transnational criminal organization and its enterprises are connected and enabled by information systems technologies, making cybercrime a substantially more important concern. TOC threatens U.S. interests by taking advantage of failed states or contested spaces; forging alliances with corrupt foreign government officials and some foreign intelligence services; destabilizing political, financial, and security institutions in fragile states; undermining competition in world strategic markets; using cyber technologies and other methods to perpetrate sophisticated frauds; creating the potential for the transfer of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terrorists; and expanding narcotrafficking and human and weapons smuggling networks. Terrorists and insurgents increasingly are turning to criminal networks to generate funding and acquire logistical support. TOC also threatens the interconnected trading, transportation, and transactional systems that move people and commerce throughout the global economy and across our borders.
While researching documents to better understand the potential links between terrorism and transnational organized crime I came across our relatively new TOC National Strategy.
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Old 11-28-2011   #18
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Fletcher Forum on World Affairs, Winter 2010: Tracking Narco-Terrorist Networks: The Money Trail
Quote:
Before September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda funded and controlled operations from its base in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda provided funding for the East Africa embassy bombings in 1998, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Today, the terrorist threat is more decentralized, with the al-Qaeda core no longer funding other terrorist groups, cells, or operations as they did in the past. Local cells are being increasingly left to fund their own activities. While many fundraising techniques remain popular, including abuse of charities and otherwise legitimate businesses, terrorist cells increasingly engage in criminal activity to fund their actions. For example, Al-Jemaah al-Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Southeast Asia, helped to finance the 2002 Bali bombings by robbing jewelry stores. Another example is the 2005 attacks in London, which were partially financed by credit card fraud.
Break
Quote:
All things considered, the growing nexus between international terrorism and organized crime may actually be a positive development. For one, tracking terrorists for their illicit activities, rather than their terrorism-based endeavors, is less complicated. Also, while countries may adhere to dissimilar definitions of terrorism or hold divergent lists of designated terrorist organizations, there is more of a consensus on the need to fight crime.
CRS, 24 May 07: Terrorist Precursor Crimes: Issues and Options for Congress
Quote:
According to numerous terrorism scholars and analysts, there are indications
that terrorists are increasingly relying on non-terroristic, precursor crimes to facilitate their terrorist attacks and/or further their terrorist campaign. Additionally, it appears that terrorist groups are diversifying and expanding the variety of crimes they commit. The cause for the increase in pre-attack criminal activity may be due to the following four factors:
- the decline in state sponsorship;
- the amateurization and decentralization of terror;
- enhanced counterterrorism measures,
- and changing terrorist demographics (i.e. shifts in ideology, strategy,
and capabilities).
Quote:
According to the United Nations, there is a convergence of organized crime and ideologically driven terrorist groups. Antonio Maria Costa, a UN official with the Office on Drugs and Crime, reportedly believes the “world is seeing the birth of a new hybrid of organized-crime-terrorist organizations.” For example, media reports suggest that “Jihadists have penetrated as much as a third of the $12.5 billion Moroccan hashish trade.” According to the Brussels-based World Customs Organization, “counterfeiting is one of the fastest growing industries in the world with an estimated market worth more than [$]500 billion each year, or 7 percent of global trade!,” the illegal profits of which often go to fund terrorist organizations.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-30-2011 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 11-30-2011   #19
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The Joint Staff J-7 published a first version of a Commander's Handbook for Counter Threat Finance on 13 Sep 11.
Quote:
This handbook provides an understanding of the processes and procedures being employed by joint force commanders (JFCs) and their staffs to plan, execute, and assess counter threat finance (CTF) activities and integrate them into their joint operation/campaign plans. It provides fundamental principles, techniques, and considerations related to CTF that are being employed in the field and are evolving toward incorporation in joint doctrine.
As an aside, I found it interesting, given the current push for putting damn near everything behind CAC access, that this FOUO pub is openly available to the broad 'net public on the Defense Technical Information Center site.
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Old 08-24-2008   #20
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Default Al-Qaeda Masters Terrorism On the Cheap

Al-Qaeda Masters Terrorism On the Cheap
Financial Dragnet Largely Bypassed

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 24, 2008; Page A01


Quote:
LONDON -- Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, al-Qaeda has increasingly turned to local cells that run extremely low-cost operations and generate cash through criminal scams, bypassing the global financial dragnet set up by the United States and Europe.

Although al-Qaeda spent an estimated $500,000 to plan and execute the Sept. 11 attacks, many of the group's bombings and assaults since then in Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia have cost one-tenth as much, or less.

The cheap plots are evidence that the U.S. government and its allies fundamentally miscalculated in assuming they could defeat the network by hunting for wealthy financiers and freezing bank accounts, according to many U.S. and European counterterrorism officials.
I don't know anyone in the CT business who thought that they "could defeat the network by hunting for wealthy financiers and freezing bank accounts" — it is all part of engagement on many, many fronts, to which AQ (and others) naturally have countermoves of their own. Still, an interesting article.
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