Terrorism and Organized Crime

TraCCC Publications on Terrorism

TraCCC Publications on Crime-Terror Nexus

Links to Internet Resources on Terrorism

Topical Overview

As dark networks, terrorism and transnational organized crime are commonly viewed as being locked in a symbiotic relationship. Since the September 11th attacks, the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center has critically analyzed this relationship with a goal of improving our understanding of collaborative relationships when they exist. Shortly after the September 11th attacks, Dr. Shelley and Mr. Picarelli briefed House staffers on Capitol Hill and published an article in Police Practice and Research that addressed the complexity and potential for collaboration between criminals and terrorists while outlining the future research needs to improve specificity of estimates. This led to a National Institute of Justice grant that provides us the opportunity to specify the links between transnational crime and terrorism as well as consider a range of policy and practical suggestions.

TraCCC Initiatives 

For the past several years, TraCCC has taken the initiative to critically analyze the linkages between Terrorism and Organized Crime, and has continued in groundbreaking  research to further understand the complexity of the relationship between organized criminal organizations and terrorist groups. In 2006, TraCCC published the book, National Counter-Terrorism Strategies Legal, Institutional and Public Policy Dimensions in the US, UK, France, Turkey and Russia,  providing an in-depth analyses of terrorism trends and responses in the US, UK, France, Turkey and Russia. The book makes an important contribution by providing a comparative analysis of the various national responses to terrorism, showing where individual countries excel and lag behind. These analyses seek to provide the basis for improving the counter-terrorism approaches for each of the countries. In 2007, Louise Shelley, Erik R. Scott, and Anthony Latta. edited the book Organized Crime and Corruption in Georgia, part of TraCCC’s Routledge Series. This book, based on extensive original research, surveys the most enduring aspects of organized crime and corruption in Georgia and the most important reforms since the Rose Revolution. Endemic crime and corruption had a devastating effect on government and everyday life in Georgia, spurring widespread popular discontent that culminated with the Rose Revolution in 2003.

In its efforts to share found knowledge and execute discussion amongst public, private, and non-profit sectors, TraCCC has held several conferences on the topic of terrorism, organized crime and crime-terror nexus. In 2010, TraCCC hosted a conference entitled, “Instability in Central Asia: Scale, Scope and regional Consequences.” The conference addressed demographic trends, religious extremism, political instability and ethnic violence in Central Asia, their impact on vulnerable populations and their contribution to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, organized crime, illicit trade and political stability in the region. In May of that year, TraCCC hosted a conference entitled, “The Crime-Terror Nexus: Perspectives and Lessons Learned from International Researchers and Practicioners.” The conference, funded by the Turkish Institute for Security and Democracy, presented analysis of terrorist financing and activity, based primarily on data made available from the Turkish National Police on the terrorist organization, PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party). In early 2011, TraCCC hosted a conference entitled, “The Nature, State and Capacity to Address Illicit Trade in Tajikistan and its Effect on (In)Security in Central Asia.” The two panels discussed Actors and the Stage: The State of Tajikistan Today and Terror and Crime: A Nexus or Just Convergences of Opportunity?. A month later, TraCCC invited Professors Alain Bauer and Xavier Raufer, two French Government advisors on crime and terrorism, to be a part of the conference entitled, “Security Threats: A French Perspective and Response.” They discussed France’s views on current security challenges and the recent government reorganization to address these challenges. Their understanding of France’s long involvement with the Arab world and with Africa provided a unique perspective on international security.

Dr. Louise Shelley has also been quoted and interviewed on the topic in many media sources. In the winter of 2008, she was quoted on page 5 in a Men’s Journal article on attempts to keep notorious illegal arms dealer Viktor Bout behind bars. November 2008,  Dr. Louise Shelley was  interviewed later by Washington Profile on the characteristics, scale and scope of Russian organized crime. 5 March 2012, Dr. Louise Shelley was again quoted in The New Yorker magazine article “Disarming Viktor Bout,”.

In June 2009, Dr. Shelley was quoted in the Public Integrity article titled, Tobacco, Terrorism, and Illicit Trade, which discusses the undermining of cigarette smuggling worldwide by law enforcement.  Dr. Louise Shelley was quoted in article, “Agencies unite against transnational crime,”discussing the increase in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and the Obama administration’s new strategy to combat transnational organized crime. She was later quoted in another article, “Obama’s plan against transnational crime sparks concern, “ where she states “transnational crime will be a defining issue of the 21st century for policymakers…”   March 2012, Dr. Louise Shelley was later quoted in hetq online article, ” Obama calls ‘Brothers’ Circle’ a National Security Threat…But Who are They?”. 

In June 2011, former TraCCC PdD student,  Dr. Mahmut Cengiz,,  published his first book,Turkish Organized Crime: From Local to Global. This book provides a detailed overview of Turkish organized crime groups, examines the emergence and growth of organized crime in Turkey, and shows how these Turkish groups are now counted among the most dominant criminal organizations operating in Europe. The book also shows how organized crime groups operating in Turkey and Turkish criminal organizations in Europe operate globally through extensive criminal networks. Drawing on an impressive body of academic research, including reports, field work, and interviews conducted by the author over the last twelve years in Turkey and Europe, Dr. Cengiz concludes that Turkish organized crime will remain active regionally and globally due to a number of factors. These include Turkey’s geographical location, increasing demand for illicitly traded goods and services, continuing flows of immigrants from developing countries to Turkey, extensive Turkish Diaspora communities, as well as numerous obstacles to effective law enforcement cooperation.