n Institute for Security Studies Papers - Unholy alliance? Assessing the links between organised criminals and terrorists in Southern Africa

Volume 2004, Issue 93
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



Following the events of 11 September 2001, the international community has increasingly examined the possible linkages between terrorist groupings and organised criminals. The structural, economic, social and political weaknesses in the Southern African subregion, combined with well-organised and firmly entrenched criminal networks, would, on the face of it, suggest that linkages between organised crime and terrorism are plausible. However, none of the cases examined in this paper could establish a clear linkage between the two phenomena. They show, instead, that terrorists may have interacted with organised criminals in straightforward business deals, on an adhoc basis. Entering into a close and more permanent arrangement with terrorists would not feature on the agendas of organised criminal groups unless there was an immediate financial gain. Ultimately, ongoing collaboration would heighten the risk of detection for both parties. Furthermore, there is little political or ideological common ground between terrorists and criminals to sustain such linkages.

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