An Emerging Crime-Terror Nexus in Europe

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An emerging nexus between terror and crime in Europe needs to be addressed with an even stronger nexus between law enforcement, the intelligence community, and the financial industry. The crime-terror nexus is not a new phenomenon. Forgery, weapons procurement, and cross-border smuggling are but a few examples of criminal activities linked to terrorism. In regions of instability – like Mali, Libya, Syria, and Iraq – terrorist groups often work alongside organized crime groups to accomplish business goals. What is new is the growing convergence between terrorists and criminals, often petty criminals at that, and the trend being exported from unstable states to the European continent.

A common characteristic of terrorists and criminals seems to be the desire to function outside of societal norms. Director of Future Conflict and Cyber Security at IISS Nigel Inkster explains that immigrant ghettos in Western Europe, like Molenbeek in Belgium, the municipality made infamous by the March 2016 Brussels attacks and the November 2015 Paris attacks, are breeding grounds for young people who use criminality to earn money and acquire a sense of self-esteem and social status.

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