SECURITY: Terrorist Organizations & Illicit Actors’ Nexus an Increasing Threat to Western Hemispheric Security

Terrorist organizations and illicit actors working together poses a new major risk to Western Hemispheric security. Photo (c) AFP 2013Terrorist organizations and illicit actors working together poses a new major risk to Western Hemispheric security. Photo (c) AFP 2013

Terrorist organizations and illicit actors working together poses a new major risk to Western Hemispheric security. Modernization and the conversion of ancient traditional modus operandi hybridize to enable certain criminalities’ success despite also increased security measures. Fiscal paradises and the Hundi system are global examples of practices that at times are utilized to evade the law, ushering funds that occasionally lead to criminalities. Money laundering and trafficking results host continued demand and profit potential across borders.

Thanks to the United States, regimes such as that of the AML of 1970 have normalized anti-money laundering efforts throughout the Americas and world. Such measures go to demonstrate that the nexus between crime and terrorism is augmenting and thus must continue to receive concerned attention by witnesses and policy makers alike.

Hence, analyzing why terrorist organizations and illicit actors work together and why said nexus threatens Western Hemispheric security, specifically and respectively, is key to reducing the issue.

Symbiotic Harmony

Photo (c) Primera Edicion Argentina 2016

Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) such as the Hezbollah and Hamas are known to take advantage of the law enforcement ambiguities rife amid Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay’s Tri-Border region. Photo (c) Primera Edicion Argentina 2016

Terrorist organizations and illicit actors work together, uniting mutually beneficial interests and despite poignant dissimilarities. First, terrorist organizations and criminal entities  prioritize the clandestine, oppose the law whether national and / or international, and comprehend that in order to achieve optimal profitability, alliances forged with otherwise unlikely associates occasionally renders necessary. Both terrorist organizations and criminal entities furthermore flourish among failed, failing or otherwise low infrastructure states. The weaker the legal controls, the more feasible are working around said legal controls. Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) such as the Hezbollah and Hamas are known to take advantage of the law enforcement ambiguities rife amid Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay’s Tri-Border region.

Second, terrorist organizations and criminal entities specifically differ in modus operandi beyond profitability. While criminals benefit from practices such as vendettas as a point, terrorists often attack innocents to make a point. Mexican drug cartels connected to Al Qaeda-linked opium trade have been known to engineer thousands of civilian fatalities, especially during the Drug War with the Mexican government and Mexican government international allies, including the United States, Guatemala and Belize.

Yet University of Hawaii Professor Gordon James Knowles, Ph.D notes that such civilians are typically decimated in the wake of the Drug War itself, while battling law enforcement, as well as opposition cartels and gangs. On the other hand, Al Qaeda also contemplates costs and benefits. Nevertheless, a strong held, indoctrinated mentality of what Stanislawski and Hermann title  “destruction and martyrdom” is witnessed dissimilar to criminal entity counterparts. Overall, strategic monetary interests frequently outweigh tactical and philosophical contradictions regarding the terrorist organization and illicit actors’ nexus.

Deadly Nexus

Mexican drug cartels connected to Al Qaeda-linked opium trade have been known to engineer thousands of civilian fatalities. Photo (c) Houston Chronicle Mexico City Bureau 2008

The nexus between crime and terrorism is an increasing threat to Western Hemispheric security and that of US public and private allies. Terrorist organizations and criminal entities have been witnessed banning together across the globe, uniting their unique advantages to outweigh their disadvantages against the law and in the name of profit and other objectives.

One risk to Western Hemispheric security that said nexus offers is the increase of illicit materials entering US soil. Certain Latin American and African drug, arms and human traffickers connected with terrorists cooperate to introduce mutual products into North America and Europe . Another risk involves illicit cash entering the US system and business spectrum. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) observes that Hawala – of the Old World yet with influence beyond – has and will continue to be employed to outmaneuver sophisticated modern anti money laundering systems of which it predates.

Hence, the more the US government possess a risk to criminal and terroristic operations’ success, the more criminals and terrorists will engineer outmaneuvering the governments of the Americas and thus inherently increase risks to over arching Western Hemispheric security.

Future Battlefields

Photo (c) CBS News 2011

Certain Latin American and African drug, arms and human traffickers connected with terrorists cooperate to introduce mutual products into North America and Europe . Photo (c) CBS News 2011

In conclusion, terrorist organizations and illicit actors will continue cooperating into the foreseeable future.

Crime and terrorism’s nexus identifies areas of profitability amid destabilization and occupies a monopoly. Supply and demand, goes the saying.

Therefore, it appears less of a question regarding defeating crime and terrorism’s nexus, but more reducing said nexus before more dangerous alliances are forged, producing mounted risk to Western Hemispheric security.

About the Author

Ailana Navarez
Ailana Navarez is Editor-in-Chief of Pulsamerica Mangazine and Deputy Editor of International Policy Digest. She has published over 100 international relations-related articles as a political analyst / journalist with a concentration in Latin American political leadership analysis, commerce, international relations, history and security affairs. As a photographer, she has covered international summits – including of MERCOSUR and the UN. She has also written for World Press. Navarez holds a BA in Government and Psychology at Harvard, pursuing an MA in Homeland Security at Penn State, and is certified in Competitive Counter Intelligence, Technical Surveillance Countermeasures and Countering Terrorism & the Asset Threat Spectrum. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hawaiian Creole.