Relations between violent non-state actors and ordinary crime



Publication Details

S. J. Mullins & A. Dolnik, 'Relations between violent non-state actors and ordinary crime' in L. Fenstermacher, L. Kuznar, T. Rieger & A. Speckhard(ed), Topical Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment (SMA) Multi-Agency and Air Force Research Laboratory Multi-Disciplinary White Papers in Support of Counter-Terrorism and Counter-WMD: Protecting the Homeland from International and Domestic Terrorism Threats: Current Multi-Disciplinary Perspective on Root Causes, The Role of Ideology, and Programs for Counter-Radicalization and Disengagement (2010) 219-227.


Overview: Despite the fact that terrorism and more ordinary forms of crime are usually investigated separately, there is a great deal of overlap in the worlds of violent non-state actors (VSNAs) and criminals. The greater our understanding of this overlap, the better equipped we will be for devising effective law-enforcement strategies to counter both threats. In studying terrorism, the emphasis tends very much to be upon the role of ideology and the perpetration of acts of violence and destruction. But ideology is not necessarily the central 1 This article has been adapted from Mullins (2009). 220 UNCLASSIFIED driving force for individual terrorists, and bombings and other forms of attack represent only the tip of the iceberg of day to day activities of terrorist organizations. Terrorists are frequently charged under ‗ordinary‘ criminal law (LaFree & Dugan, 2004) and in reality there are often very close relationships between terrorism and everyday crime. There are numerous instances of cooperation between terrorists and criminals at different levels, and the pathways into both kinds of activity exhibit many similarities. There are similar systems of social influence and organisation and a convergence in terms of methods, motives, and profiles. These issues are described in greater detail, focusing in particular on contemporary Islamist terrorism in the West, and implications for law-enforcement and counter-terrorism (CT) approaches are discussed.

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