Organised crime

Organised crime mainly exploits legitimate activities for criminal purposes. The UNODC tried to give a definition to “organised crime” in the organised crime convention. So an organised crime may be defined as

  • A group of three or more persons that was not randomly formed;
  • Existing for a period of time;
  • Acting in concert with the aim of committing at least one crime punishable by at least four years’ incarceration;
  • In order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.

Globalized world, lenient emigration policies, cheaper and faster international travel, social networking sites and high tech communication equipment and sophisticated money laundering methods have increased organized crimes across the world. Such gangs are engaged in  anti-social activities as the use of violence and extortion, illicit drug trafficking, money laundering,  acts of corruption, environmental crime, trafficking in women and children, illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, credit card fraud, computer related crime, maritime piracy, illegal trafficking of stolen vehicles, industrial espionage and sabotage etc.

Similarities between the terrorism and Organised Crime

There are a number of increasingly similarities between terrorism and organized crime.

  • Both use extreme violence and the threat of reprisals.
  • Both use kidnappings, assassinations, and extortion.
  • Both operate secretly, though at times publicly in friendly territory.
  • Both defy the state and the rule of law.
  • For a member to leave either group is rare and often fatal.
  • Both present an asymmetrical threat to the nations.
  • Both can have “interchangeable recruitment” pools.
  • Both are highly adaptable, innovative, and resilient.
  • Both have back-up leaders and foot soldiers.
  • Both have provided social services, though this is much more frequently seen with terrorist groups

While some terrorist and criminal groups may operate opportunistically in partnership, others may be converging or transforming into a single terror-crime entity.

Organized Crime and Terrorism: The Black Hole syndrome

The convergence between terrorist groups and transnational organized crime groups can be understood by the Black Hole Syndrome.  The black hole syndrome is described as the natural progression of these two criminal groups gaining economic and political control over a territory or an entire state. The interaction between criminal and terrorist groups into seven points along the continuum, and subsequently into four general groups: alliances, operational motivations, convergence, and the “black hole” syndrome. It is shown in the following graphics:

Various Facets of Linkages with Organized Crimes with Terrorism

Narcotics + Terrorism = Narco-Terrorism

Narcotic trafficking started as an organised crime has emerged as a threat to nation states because of its association with terrorist groups. Narcotic drugs are most profitable commodity that it generates quick money only hard cash. Taliban in Afghanistan is reportedly making some $100 million a year from drugs in Afghanistan while making successful war upon the Afghans and their Coalition partners.

India’s Worries

  • India is worried about the terrorist outfits working from the soil of Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. With Afghanistan, the escalation of violence in the past few years creates another concern. The boom in poppy cultivation has led to resurgence of Taliban and Al-Qaeda which continue to be the primary sources of threat.
  • India’s worries get magnified because India has a location between golden crescent and golden triangle which are world’s major narcotics producing and exporting regions. This unique location leads India to become a popular route for drug trafficking which can lead to rise of Narco-terrorism and finally instability in the country.
  • The growth of illicit drugs trade into India through the northern borders is one of the several reasons for the declining trend in robbery and dacoit cases in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Narcotic drugs are the main source for funding terrorist activities in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • This connivance of terrorist and insurgent groups in global drug trade is another cause of concern. Terrorism needs huge amount of money to carry out operations, which cannot be yielded through legal ways or officials, so the terrorists approach underworld dons or drug syndicates for cooperation. The criminalisation of politics is the result of the same nexus.

Laws and Regulations against Narcotic Trafficking

  • Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act 1985: Provides minimum punishment of 10 years.
  • Indian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985: Provides to carry out controlled delivery mechanisms measures as it deems necessary or expenditure for the purpose of preventing and combating abuse of narcotic substances.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB): Nodal agency for enforcement of laws concerning narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • India signed bilateral agreements with USA, UK, Myanmar, Afghanistan, UAE, Mauritius, Zambia, and the Russia for ‘drug control’.
  • India is a signatory of UN and SAARC convention on narcotic drugs and psychotropic Substances.

Drug Trafficking and Terrorism

  • Terrorists indulge in drug trafficking directly to support their own cause.
  • Sympathizers involve in drug trafficking and send the illegal profits to fund the terrorist movements.
  • Terrorists and drug lords join to gain access to the powers to utilise their connections with political powers.
  • The economy of narcotics producing countries is dependent on the illegal drugs trade. Unless an alternative economy is formulated the trade would continue irrespective of strict legislation.
  • Problems compounded with money laundering and black money.
  • The criminals and smugglers accept the attractive proposal from terrorists because it gives them access to political power.

Illegal Firearms Trafficking

  • According to a Oxfam report, there are more than 40 million illegal small arms in India out of approximately 75 million in worldwide circulation.
  • Problem of illegal arms is graver in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. Large amount of illegal small arms are manufactured in various illegal arms factories in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and sold on the black market for cheap prices.
  • Chinese pistols are in demand in the illegal small arms market in India because they are easily available and cheaper.
  • This trend poses a significant problem for the states which have influence of Naxalism. The porous Indo-Nepal border is an entry point for Chinese pistols, AK-47 and M-16 rifles into India as these arms are used by the Naxalites who have ties to Maoists in Nepal.

Linkage with terrorism

The illegal arms trafficking aids terrorists and terrorist groups operating around the world and it is central to the global war on terror. These arms are not only the weapons of choice in the majority of today’s regional conflicts but also for many terrorists and terrorist groups operating around the world. Arms brokers operate from anywhere because they are able to circumvent national arms controls and international arms restrictions or obtain official protection. Arms trafficking are a clandestine act that can distort a state’s peaceful state either through smuggling or direct purchases. 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.

Human Trafficking

Terrorism is an expensive business, and better technology has made it easier to track money online, and Terrorist organizations not only utilize human trafficking for financial support, they also use to obtain an entry point into countries. The slave trade is currently a multi-billion industry built on demand for single product i.e. fellow human beings. Human traffickers offer the terrorists several ‘products’: child soldier, domestic servant, exotic dancer, rape, forced marriage, sex slavery in brothels, etc.

India is found to be both the country of origin and destination for trafficking in women. Human trafficking is not only one of the first financial steps into the transnational and trans-criminal financial network but that it is the bedrock of these criminal syndicates. It is far more profitable than trafficking drugs or weapons and sometimes various forms of kidnapping for ransom were used by terrorist and/or insurgent groups to raise some funds and sustain themselves.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is at the centre of all terrorist activity, because it is the common denominator of all other acts, whether the aim is to make profits or use them for other purposes like donations channelled through charitable or religious foundations as well as the proceeds of various criminal activities such as credit card fraud, trafficking in human beings, and drug related offences.

Cyber Crimes and Terrorism

The exponential growth of computer related crime equal with the increasing dependence of computers in our day-to -day lives has posed another tool for terrorists to spread terrorism.

  • Publication of terrorist ideologies and ideas propaganda
  • Raising funds terrorist financing through money transfer
  • Recruiting new members and finding each other
  • Launching threat or intimidation campaigns beheadings
  • Communication among members P2P, SMS, VOIP and encryption
  • Obtaining operational information targeting
  • Coordinating, planning and discussing terrorist actions
  • Logistics ordering supplies, car rentals,
  • Designing Explosive, chemical biological component.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for legal framework to prevent cyber-crimes. Further, the Act has been amended to include provisions to address computer crimes like phishing, spamming, online frauds and identity theft as also for data protection.

Fake Currency

Currency counterfeiting is one of the organized white collar crimes which has assumed serious proportions in growing terrorism globally. Beyond issues of intellectual property theft and consumer safety, there is the notion that counterfeit sales directly fund terrorist organizations.

Options for Combating Organized Crime

  • Increase efforts to integrate policy towards terrorism and organized crime: enhance governments investigative and response capabilities; training focused on critical skills and exchange of skills between and among the nations.
  • Improve Counter Terrorism Cooperation through wider consultation; coordinated approaches at national and regional levels.
  • Strong Sub-regional Co-operation: Exchange research studies and expertise on terrorism and establish secure communication links in each member country.
  • Establish a Regional Centre to coordinate regional efforts, capacity building, coordinate resource mobilisation and build & maintain a regional data bank.
  • Co-ordinated Institutional Framework
  • Enhance Public Awareness by sensitising communities and civil societies on the impact of terrorism and eliminate misconceptions through the mass media and other channels
  • Curb Financing of Terrorism by enacting appropriate statutes to prevent financing of terrorism
  • Enhance Diplomatic Efforts to gain political will to support the mechanism and gain collaboration of international partners.
  • Timely exchange of information and intelligence