On 22 September, the Global Initiative participated in “The nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime: Enhancing understanding and promoting international cooperation”, hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, as well as the Republic of Colombia and UNODC.

Attended by various counter-terrorism and organized crime experts, policy makers, think thanks, and practitioners, the meeting aimed to raise international awareness on the nexus between organised crime and terrorism by offering a platform to exchange perspectives, approaches and experiences in addressing the nexus, and promote international cooperation in addressing it.

Based on local contexts and motivations of different actors, the linkages between terrorist and organised crime groups are wide-ranging, manifesting in various forms, from mere coexistence between these illicit groups, to cooperation and even convergence. These different linkages make the nexus complex, dynamic and context-based, which has implications for international, regional and national policy and operational responses.

The United Nations (UN) has already recognized and expressed concern over the connection between terrorism and transnational organized crime (TOC), both in the General Assembly (for example in The Convention Transnational Organized Crime and the fifth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy) and the Security Council (for example resolutions 1373 (2001), 2195 (2014) and most recently 2370 (2017)).

In an effort to address the challenges faced in developing effective response strategies, the meeting served as a stepping stone for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to launch an initiative within the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) on the nexus between terrorism and TOC. The initiative will aim to develop a set of non-binding good practices, which can serve as the basis for international engagement, assistance, and training to address the potential challenge posed by the nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime.

Tuesday Reitano, Deputy Director of the Global Initiative, presented a recent paper co-authored by the Global Initiative and the International Center for Counter Terrorism, as members of the EU funded CT-MORSE Consortium. The paper addressed the challenges in viewing terrorist organisations and criminal groups as monolithic and homogeneous entities rather than as complex and multi-dimensional networks. While the relationship between organised crime and terrorism is often political in nature, and a product of the local context and political economy, efforts to counter this phenomenon have largely remained tactical and reactive in nature, with responses primarily driven by law enforcement objectives.

As an alternative, it was suggested that responses be developed through a three-level prevention lens, including identifying enabling macro factors in which criminality and terrorism are more likely to result (such as geo-political environment and marginalization); meso dynamics (such as outbreaks of violence, conflict, widespread social discontent); as well as recognising and avoiding the catalytic “triggers”, or micro conditions, which may prove the tipping point in an individual’s decision-making calculus.

Other panelists including representatives of UNODC, Albania and Colombia, provided regional experiences and offered recommendations for the enhancement of international and inter-agency cooperation, and the development of effective response strategies to address the “OC-Terror Nexus”. These included a call for more research and data collection on the phenomenon, increased analysis as well as greater technical capacity building.

Examining the Nexus between Organised Crime and Terrorism and its implications for EU Programming, 2017

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Tuesday Reitano

Tuesday Reitano is Deputy Director at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and a senior research advisor at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, where she leads the ENACT programme on behalf of the GI. Tuesday was formerly the director of CT MORSE, an independent policy and monitoring unit for the EU’s programmes in counter-terrorism, and for 12 years was a policy specialist in the UN System, including with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Development Group (UNDG) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In this time, she has amassed a wealth of experience in fragile states and development working both with states, civil society and at the community level to strengthen resilience to transnational threats, promote sustainable development and the rule of law. Tuesday has authored a number of policy orientated and academic reports with leading institutions such as the UN, World Bank and OECD on topics ranging from organized crime’s evolution and impact in Africa, on human smuggling, illicit financial flows, and the nexus between crime, terrorism, security and development. Tuesday is the lead author of a forthcoming OECD flagship publication: Illicit Financial Flows: Criminal Economies in West Africa, co-author of Migrant, Refugee; Smuggler, Saviour, a book published in 2016 by Hurst on the role of smugglers in Europe’s migration crisis, and the editor of Militarised Responses to Organised Crime: War on Crime, published by Palgrave in 2017. She holds three Masters Degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Public Administration (MPA) and an MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development (MSc). Tuesday is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with her family.

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Laura Adal

Laura is a Senior Analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. While Laura provides research for a number of Global Initiatives projects, analysing a diverse range of organized crime flows across the world and developing responses, her current focus relates to organized crime in Africa. Prior to joining the Global Initiative, Laura worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Terrorism Prevention Branch, where she engaged in research related to terrorism and violent extremism and provided legal counter-terrorism technical assistance to Member States. Laura previously worked with STATT, a boutique global consulting firm, where she concentrated on human rights and prison reform, as well as migration flows. Laura is a licensed attorney, holding a J.D. from South Texas College of Law, and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of St. Thomas. She is currently based in New York City.

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