Polity Booster- Linkages of organized crime with terrorism

Linkages of organized crime with terrorism

As organized crime and terrorist groups have globalized and diversified their operations in the past decade, they have based their activities in countries offering conditions most favorable to survival and expansion. Mobility, an important new characteristic of most such groups, has given groups a wider selection of operational bases and the ability to respond faster to changes that are unfavorable to their operations.

The main domestic elements making a nation “hospitable” to transnational crime and terrorism are official corruption, incomplete or weak legislation, poor enforcement of existing laws, non-transparent financial institutions, unfavorable economic conditions, lack of respect for the rule of law in society, and poorly guarded national borders. In some cases, several of those conditions arise together from a lack of political will to establish the rule of law. In turn, such a lack can derive from weak national institutions or from high-level corruption. A failing national economy often is an influential background factor that increases domestic and transnational criminal activity in a country. Such purely domestic factors often are exacerbated by a nation’s geographic location (along a key narcotics trafficking route or in a region where arms trafficking is prolific, for example), or the influence of regional geopolitical issues such as a long-standing territorial dispute.

The reach of transnational crime and terrorism is increasing for many of the same reasons that the reach of legitimate business is expanding. Many of the regions discussed in this report are touched by criminal or terrorist activity from other regions of the world. For example, the starting point of arms trafficking in Africa often is weapons supplies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and the trafficking of narcotics and human beings covers long distances from Asia and Africa to Western Europe and North America. Intermediary agents often are involved in transit countries along the routes. This globalization has brought about greatly increased cooperation and sophistication among criminal groups based in different parts of the world. In recent years, terrorist groups also have proven that their reach is worldwide, as they benefit from some of the same conditions that make nations hospitable to organized crime. Evidence shows, for example, that terrorist groups based in the Middle East have established connections in several other continents.

In recent years, many nations of East Africa have been plagued by domestic and transnational upheavals that have destabilized borders and weakened law enforcement in both the nations directly affected and their more stable neighbors. Sudan has endured a lengthy insurgency, Somalia is an agglomeration of rival groups without a national government, Ethiopia and Eritrea have been at war often, and the Great Lakes District has been plagued by inter-tribal brutality in Rwanda and Burundi and insurgent movements in eastern Congo. International traffickers in narcotics, human beings, and arms have found this environment favorable for their enterprises. The more stable nations of the region—Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—have suffered from the instability surrounding them as well as from domestic corruption and law enforcement insufficiencies. Smugglers and terrorists are attracted to East Africa because of its geographic proximity to the Middle East and South Asia, its long coastline that is difficult to control, regular airline service to Europe and North America, and sizeable and increasingly radicalized Muslim communities.

In India

Terrorism is a serious problem which India is facing. Conceptually, terrorism does not fall in the category of organised crime, as the dominant motive behind terrorism is political and/or ideological and not the acquisition of money-power. The Indian experience, however, shows that the criminals are perpetrating all kinds of crimes, such as killings, rapes, kidnappings, gun-running and drug trafficking, under the umbrella of terrorist organisations. The existing criminal networks are being utilised by the terrorist leaders. India faced serious problems in the Punjab in the 1980s, which has since been controlled with the installation of a popular government.

The North East still continues to be in turmoil due to the unlawful activities of ULFA and NSCN. The terrorist groups there are partly financing their operations by kidnappings for ransom of tea garden executives and extortion from businessmen. PWG and LTTE, in small pockets of southern India, continue to indulge in continual acts of violence.

In view of threat to the national security, the Central Government, enacted an antiterrorist law, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985. About 60,000 terrorists were charged under this Act. However, the trials were slow and the conviction rate quite low. This Act was allowed to lapse in 1995. India at present does not have any anti-terrorist law.

India has become vulnerable to narco terrorism, bounded as it is by the ‘Golden Crescent’ on the West and the ‘Golden Triangle’ on the East. Narco terrorism assumes several forms, namely:

  • Terrorists themselves indulge in drug trafficking to support their movements ;
  • Sympathizers of terrorists living abroad indulge in drug trafficking and send part of their illegal profits to fund the terrorist movements ;
  • Terrorists join hands with drug lords to gain access to the powers, in the countries sympathetic to their cause, in order to utilise their connections with political powers ;
  • Terrorists give protection and support to drug traffickers with fire arms, and the drug traffickers, being acquainted with the routes, assist the terrorists in border crossings to bring arms and drugs in the target country; and
  • Smugglers supply fire arms to the terrorists who are also drug traffickers.

The areas affected by terrorism in India are the border States which also happen to be transit roues for narcotics to their destinations in the Western world. It is not a concidence that the growth of terrorist movement in Punjab synchronised with the emergence of the Golden Crescent as a major drug producing area in the early 1980s. The emergence of drug mafias in the Golden Crescent countries and their linkages with smugglers in the border States of India have given impetus to gun-running. There is positive evidence of narco-terrorism in the border States of India even though the magnitude there of is not significant. Some mixed consignments of narcotic drugs and arms were seized from smugglers in the Punjab. There is also evidence that the money generated abroad by the smugglers was used for purchase of weapons which were smuggled into the country for terrorist activities. To illustrate, Dawood Ibrahim, utilised the existing smuggling network in landing consignments of arms and explosives on the western coast in early 1993, used for causing serial blasts in Bombay.

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