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Countering Linkages between Terrorist and Criminal Networks. James J.F. Forest Director of Terrorism Studies. T he C ombating T errorism C enter . A t w est p oint. EAPC/PfP Workshop on Threat Convergence, Zurich, 5 March 2007.
James J.F. Forest
Director of Terrorism Studies
EAPC/PfP Workshop on Threat Convergence, Zurich, 5 March 2007
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
“To work well, networks require strong shared beliefs, a collective vision, some original basis for trust, and excellent communications”
- Brian Jenkins, 2006
In human networks, trust is established by various social mechanisms and shared beliefs
Anyone can plug into the network if they use the proper protocols (the “trusted handshake”), usually enabled by previously established network credentials
We have seen an increase in the establishment of linkages between terrorist and criminal networks, creatingHybrid Networks
Technology enables organizations to become more “networked”
Constraining their technological capacity forces more face-to-face interaction
More frequent face-to-face interaction can increase a clandestine network’s vulnerabilities
- technology, eavesdropping
- human intelligence, spies
Strategic Authority/Leadership Preference Divergence
Within all networks, there are forces which influence how the nodes operate. For example:
if Mafia, certain family leaders/patrons . . .
if Jihadis, certain influential scholars . . .
Preference divergence over “who’s in charge”
Internal dissension within the network’s leadership
Strategic disagreements within network lead some members to subvert the authority of senior commanders
Principals must combat perceptions of strategic drift, disconnections between rhetoric and actions
Summary of clandestine network vulnerabilities:
Create greater preference divergence, exploit OPSEC vulnerabilities, degrade network capabilities
Linkages between criminal and terror organizations exacerbates trust, agency theory problems
Magnify the differences and distrust among network components and individuals
Exploit network vulnerabilities and produce a constant state of disruption and uncertainty – degrade its ability to function effectively
Because of operational security needs, a clandestine organization cannot offer much transparency regarding its finances
Get money to disappear with no reason
Have conspicuous consumption items (big screen TV) appear in place of the missing money
Spread rumors of preferential treatment, special benefits given to certain members of the network unfairly
Publish articles on “lavish lifestyles of AQ leaders” focusing on KSM and his playboy antics; al Fadl stealing money in Kenya; the Montreal cell and its money mismanagement, etc. Paint a portrait of these guys as anything but humble, pious, devout Muslims or competent financial decision makers.
Slow the transfer of funds, assets from one node to another; cause unexplained transaction delays
Encourage internal looting (or perception of looting)
Promote suspicion, rumors, mistrust
Publicize accounts of financial mismanagement, corruption, misappropriation, fund diversion
Encourage suspicion that donations, funds will not necessarily be used as donor intended (e.g., to pay drug couriers, prostitutes, murderers of schoolchildren, etc.)
Force leaders to consider punitive actions against agents/operatives
Overall goal: degrade the integrity within financial networks; make asset management more difficult