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UNHOLY ALLIANCES

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unholy_alliances.pdfHow Trans-state Terrorism and International Crime Make Common CauseBy Lyubov Mincheva and Ted Robert Gurr Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Panel on Comparative Perspectives on States, Terrorism and Crime, San Diego, March 24, 2006IntroductionPower, profits, and violence: the complex dependent variableFour patterns of terrorism-crime linkagesAnalytical framework: When terrorists cooperate with criminalsFigure1Rev.906.pdfFigure2Final.306.pdfUNHOLY ALLIANCES? How Trans-state Terrorism and International Crime Make Common Cause By Lyubov Mincheva and Ted Robert Gurr1 Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Panel on Comparative Perspectives on States, Terrorism and Crime, San Diego, March 24, 2006 Introduction Trans-state political terrorism is a strategy used in pursuit of ethnonational, religious or revolutionary objectives. International organized crime, in contrast, seeks material gain by smuggling weapons, drugs, consumer goods, and humans as well as by illegal fund transfers. How do these two types of “global bads” make common cause? Under what conditions do politically-motivated terrorists cooperate with international criminal cartels and networks, and vice versa? A major challenge in the building of such an explanatory model is its complex dependent variable demanding explanation for the interaction of two conceptually distinct motives for joint action. We sketch a typology and theoretical framework that incorporate perspectives from social movement theory, conflict analysis, and criminology. Three major factors are proposed to condition such interactions. A strongly disposing condition for alliances of the political and the criminal is the existence of trans-state nationalist, ethnic and religious movements. They provide settings conductive to collaboration between terrorists and criminals based on shared values and mutual trust. A second condition is the occurrence of armed conflict, which provides incentives and opportunities for interdependence. Third are the constraints that facilitate or impede complex transnational exchanges of illegal commodities, exchanges that frequently involve third and fourth party intermediaries and corruptible internal security forces. The proposed model is illustrated using evidence from the Albanian ethno-territorial separatist movement. This was activated in the early 1990s and, over the last decade, has evolved into a political-criminal syndicate. We suggest that the varying intensity of the ethnic Albanians’ separatist conflicts has shaped different patterns of terrorist-criminal collaboration. The conclusion identifies other instances of political-criminal syndicates in the Balkans and in other world regions. Power, profits, and violence: the complex dependent variable A major challenge in this study is defining and describing a complex dependent variable, the interaction between two distinct motives. We do so by focusing on actors: the actors whose behavior and driving motivations we want to explain are criminalized rebels who cooperate in or conduct illegal enterprises in pursuit of radical political goals. Our assumption that the violent pursuit of power (terrorism for short) and illicit material gain (criminal enterprise) are different purposes may seem obvious. It is not just a definitional 1point but a difference that helps explain actors’ choices of strategies and their organizational structures. However, international conventions conflate crime and terrorism: from a legal perspective, terrorism is criminal behavior. Both revolutionary and criminal enterprises engage in illegal violence whether in pursuit of power or profit (van Duyne 2003). The United Nations Secretariat has characterized terrorism as the most visible and openly aggressive form of transnational organized crime (see Mueller, 1998, cited in Stanislawski and Hermann, 2004). Martin and Romano, following other writers, have introduced the general concept of multinational systemic crime (1992) to denote the “collective behavior” of groups engaged in terrorism, espionage, and trafficking in drug and arms (1992: 14-15). A fashionable economic theory of rebellion deals with political motivations by ignoring them. Collier and Hoeffler posit that rebellion is “an industry that generates profits from looting….Such rebellions are motivated by greed….” (Collier, Hoeffler and Sambanis, 2005, p. 3). If we accepted these premises as a beginning point, we would have little to explain: social movement and conflict theories would be irrelevant, or at best secondary, to the explanation of linkages between terrorism and crime. The essential differences are these. Profit maximization and risk reduction are the motives that shape the behavior of international criminal groups. In contrast, ideologically-driven pursuit of social and political goals motivates political terrorist groups. They seek to influence political processes and the exercise of state power. Strategically, criminal groups use violence to establish and maintain control over the supply, shipment, and marketing of illicit goods. Political terrorists, by contrast, use violence mainly to publicize their objectives and to demonstrate the weakness of their opponents – usually the state, sometimes rival groups. Organizational differences follow. International criminal enterprises need regular access to suppliers, transit routes, and markets, implying a relatively high degree of organizational structure and coordination. Their profits are usually large and can be used to buy immunity from security and judicial officials. Terrorist organizations, by contrast, are more likely to function as cells or networks, capable of carrying out episodic attacks on political targets but otherwise flexible and mutable. Their survival depends on evading and deterring security forces, not on buying them off (Curtis and Karacin 2002). This dualistic approach to analyzing terrorism and crime is affirmed in different contexts. European experts point to “symbiotic partners from arms trades and narcotics” as a connection that straddles the schism between the two spheres (Curtis and Karacin, 2002: 1). “Narco-terrorism” is a term widely used to describe the activities of Latin American narcotics traffickers in collusion with revolutionary movements in Peru, Colombia, and elsewhere. The term can


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