Presentation on theme: "Qualifiers and Caveats James J.F. Forest, Ph.D. Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program Conference on the The Nexus Between Terrorism and Trafficking."— Presentation transcript:
Qualifiers and Caveats James J.F. Forest, Ph.D. Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program Conference on the The Nexus Between Terrorism and Trafficking February 22, 2013
Criminals and Terrorists Much in common – rational actors, operate secretly, use similar tactics (kidnapping, extortion, assassination) to obtain resources, power Conceptual paradigms offered: Nexus, intersections, hybrids Continuum (groups shifting incrementally) Transformation (become less one, more the other)
Researching a “Nexus” Lots of specific conditions involved No formula, no perfect predictors Any common patterns? If the “Nexus” exists, what do we need know? Who Where When Why How What kinds
Who? (Group & Individual Characteristics) Group characteristics Goals, capabilities, leadership, areas of operation, support networks, interpersonal relationships Less “Organization” more “Networked individuals” Individual facilitators are the heart of collaboration “Trusted handshake” based on: Mutual friends/acquaintances who vouch for you w/their life Family ties, clan, tribe, etc. Religious beliefs (doctrinal knowledge, credentials, etc.) Battlefield veteran status (Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq) Shared experiences (prison, battlefield, oppression)
Where? (Location-related conditions) Global access to banking systems, materials, weapons, technologies, knowledge, infrastructure, etc.... Access to markets (incl. pipelines, routes, conduits); Global markets = more opportunities for profit Internationally linked criminal markets in which various actors, including terrorists and insurgents, engage in profit- seeking activities Domestic cash economies, shadow economies, depressed/dysfunctional economies Physical terrain for illicit crops, smuggling State weakness (limited intell, security capabilities), border insecurity, ongoing conflicts, safe havens Corruption, kleptocracy, low development/high need and other “legitimacy grievances”, and much more...
When? (Temporal/Event-related Conditions) Inter-state or intra-state conflicts Coup/regime collapse, foreign military occupation, other events that enhance the perceived need for action within a particular environment; Transitioning state governments (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya); Governance challenges in dozens of countries worldwide; Long-term projections: No indication that demand for drugs, weapons, illicit sexual services, etc. will decline any time soon Experiences lead to expansion of trusted handshakes; patterns of successful collaboration can lead to more trust & willingness for future collaboration
Why? (And if not, why not?) Power, resources, operational capacity common goals Money is centrifugal force that brings them together Expertise (money laundering, travel document forgery) Relatively few “strategic alliances”, more tactical, transactional, sub-contract kinds of relationships Even if we see many of these conditions, we may not see a terrorist-trafficking nexus. Why not? Trust is much harder to build than destroy Once you become involved in trafficking, difficult to get back out (much different from disengagement from political violence) Failed states less hospitable than weak states OPSEC: Risk aversion regarding money, resources
What kinds? (Short-term / Long-term & other characteristics) Strategic alliances Long-term commitments; shared intelligence, revenues, etc. Transactional supply chain relationships Often based on territorial control by each group Tactical alliances Short-term, in response to perceived mutual threat Sub-contract relationships Often based on unique/specialized capabilities Spot sales and barter agreements Like drugs for explosives (Madrid 2004: 66 lbs. hashish = 440 lbs. explosives) - Adapted from Phil Williams (2002) and Annette Idler (2012)
Summary At minimum, broad stroke characterizations of a “terrorism trafficking nexus” require significant qualifiers and caveats Occasional convergence based on a variety of contexts and group/individual attributes This is a very contextual phenomenon Reinforces a common truth – there is no “one size fits all” kind of policy solution or universal strategy to deal with this problem
Qualifiers and Caveats James J.F. Forest, Ph.D.