Terrorism and organized crime are increasingly blurred, such that differentiating between the two can be counterproductive. Instead, efforts must be made to stabilize insecure regions.

In this article, Mark Shaw and Prem Mahadevan highlight how terrorism and organized crime are increasingly indistinguishable. In response, they also argue that policymakers should direct their focus toward stabilizing insecure spaces in the West and developing world. Only by devoting more attention to the so-called violent entrepreneurs operating in these areas, beyond the reach of law enforcement, the authors contend, can we begin to leverage the diplomatic, developmental, economic and policing tools that will be necessary to confront this threat.

This CSS Policy Perspective was originally published by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) in October 2018.

When terrorism and organized crime meet

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Mark Shaw

Mark is the Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

Mark is also a Senior Associate of the LSE International Drug Policy Unit, (LSE US Centre). He previously held the National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security at the University of Cape Town, Department of Criminology.

Mark worked for ten years at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), including as Inter-regional Advisor, Chief of the Criminal Justice Reform Unit and with the Global Programme against Transnational Organised Crime, where he lead projects and provided technical assistance to national governments, bilateral donors and international organisations in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, West Africa, the Sahel and Southern Africa, on security sector and criminal justice reform, and countering transnational threats.

A South African national, before joining the UN, Mark held a number of positions in government and civil society where he worked on issues of public safety and urban violence in the post-apartheid transition.

He holds a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and has published widely on organised crime, security and justice reform issues.

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Prem Mahadevan

Before joining the GI, Prem Mahadevan worked for almost nine years as a Senior Researcher with the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. He specialized in research on organized crime, intelligence and irregular warfare. He has lectured on international relations courses at universities in Austria and the Czech Republic, and been invited to brief parliamentarians and high ranking security officials from across Europe and Asia, besides NATO and the Global Counterterrorism Forum. He has co-authored policy studies for the Swiss foreign ministry and written a book on counterterrorist special operations for the Indian Army. His academic publications include two books on the theme ‘intelligence and terrorism’, besides several peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in edited volumes.

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