Identifying and Assessing Links Between Organized Crime and Terrorism

Scholars of transnational organized crime view September 11th as confirmation that non-state actors had eclipsed state actors as the most malignant opponents of the nation-state. Throughout the 1990s, scholars and analysts published research indicating that a convergence between international terrorism and transnational organized crime would prove detrimental to national security and would only be successfully quelled via new tools and techniques. What did not occur, however, was systematic study of cooperative arrangements between transnational criminal and terrorist organizations. In response to this lack of analysis, TraCCC’s project examined the relationship between international organized crime and terrorist organizations systematically in order to take research to praxis—to move findings into useful tools for law enforcement. The research project addresses two primary goals:

  1. Systematically address organizational and operational similarities and differences between transnational criminal and international terrorist organizations, identifying watch points and indicators of convergence.
  2. Apply the results of this systematic analysis to assess the feasibility of current investigative techniques for organized crime and terrorism cases.

Detecting, monitoring, and probing the nexus of transnational criminal and terrorist operations can provide opportunities to disrupt global criminal activities and pre-empt terrorist operations. To achieve the project’s goals, we adapt a common method of intelligence analysis to form an analytical framework that maps the environment that transnational organized crime and international terrorism operate in to specific operational behavior. The framework utilizes prior research to identify watch points for linkages, which in turn drives research to identify indicators of convergence. The project then uses a case study method to validate the utility of the indicators and to assess the utility of current law enforcement information gathering tools, investigative techniques, and prosecutorial procedures in the organized crime sphere for application to counter-terrorism practices.

The project concluded in 2005.