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Counter-terror obstacles

A lack of international cooperation, skilled staff and communication are major obstacles in tackling terrorism and organised crime, according to a report by two university academics.

Professor Vincenzo Ruggiero and Dr Rodolfo Leyva, based at Middlesex University in London, also highlight the inadequacy of social prevention measures to tackle both types of crime.

The European Union-funded project Takedown, which involves 18 partners, examines the causes, structures and activities of organised crime and terrorist networks and assesses the efficacy of institutional and social responses to them. The authors highlight concerns about institutional responses:

Lack of cooperation – the various political treaties and strategies aimed at fighting organised crime and terrorist networks provide little more than intentions and statements of principle.
Lack of skilled technical staff, expertise and tools – only a few countries have the necessary types of technologies and rely on skilled professionals.
Lack of communication – as recent terrorist attacks in Europe showed, national authorities do not communicate with each other or exchange data on suspects, or even convicts, making it extremely difficult to track criminals or prevent attacks.

And as for social prevention, the report emphasises:

Little effort is made to help marginalised communities establish meaningful relationships with society at large.
Insufficient energy is spent in fighting social exclusion and Islamophobia.
Military strategies implemented at the international level do not reduce but exacerbate radicalization.

The lead author Vincenzo Ruggiero, Professor of Sociology at Middlesex, said: “Both organised crime and terrorist networks have become more complex and diverse. Globalisation and the internet have produced international networks of criminal experts and professionals. Responses cannot only take the form of law enforcement at home and war abroad. Social strategies aimed at inclusion, mutual understanding and dialogue are paramount.”

The report looks at the role of social, psychological and economic aspects related to organised crime and terrorist networks and their impact on society. It explores causes and activities related to organised crime and terrorism as well as measures to prevent individuals becoming involved in these areas. While the two types of networks may engage in similar activities, the fundamental difference is that organised crime is aiming at the accumulation of wealth, whereas terrorists mainly focus on political or ideological goals and are using criminal activities for finance.

Activities related to organised crime include illegal immigration, VAT and credit card fraud, cigarette smuggling, counterfeiting, weapons trafficking, money laundering, environmental and cybercrime.

The report provides a list of 60 international terrorist incidents that took place on a single day; December 31, 2015.


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