U.S. News on organized criminals funding terrorists
David E. Kaplan writes
in the latest U.S. News and World Report
on how organized criminal groups such as Dawood Ibrahim through drug smuggling and extortion sponsor terror groups such as Al-Queda. He starts with deconstructing the myth about the 1993 Mumbai terror attacks as a vengence for communal riots.
But more than vengeance was at work in Bombay. Indian police later recovered an arsenal big enough to spark a civil war: nearly 4 tons of explosives, 1,100 detonators, nearly 500 grenades, 63 assault rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Within days of the attacks, police had gotten their first break by tracing an abandoned van filled with a load of weapons. The trail soon led to a surprising suspect: not a terrorist but a gangster. And not just any gangster but an extraordinary crime boss, a man known as South Asia's Al Capone.
Virtually unknown in the West, Dawood Ibrahim is a household name across the region, his exploits known by millions. He is, by all accounts, a world-class mobster, a soft-spoken, murderous businessman from Bombay who now lives in exile, sheltered by India's archenemy, Pakistan. He is India's godfather of godfathers, a larger-than-life figure alleged to run criminal gangs from Bangkok to Dubai. Strong-arm protection, drug trafficking, extortion, murder-for-hire--all are stock-in-trade rackets, police say, of Dawood Ibrahim's syndicate, the innocuously named D Company.
Indeed. Since 9.11. Dawood has been a designated
by the United States and the Interpol as a wanted global terrorist. It is said that the slained Wall Street Journal
journalist Daniel Pearl was investigating Dawood's hideout in Karachi and his protection cover by Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence
Understanding Dawood's operations is important, experts say, because they show how growing numbers of terrorist groups have come to rely on the tactics--and profits--of organized criminal activity to finance their operations across the globe. An inquiry by U.S. News, based on interviews with counterterrorism and law enforcement officials from six countries, has found that terrorists worldwide are transforming their operating cells into criminal gangs
Why has the U.S. waken up to this now? After all, India has been making demand for Dawood's extradition from Dubai (initially) and Pakistan (his present residence). The reason is as follows:
The implications are troubling because organized crime offers a means for terrorist groups to increase their survivability. A Stanford University study conducted after the 9/11 attacks looked at why some conflicts last so much longer than others. One key factor: crime. Out of 128 conflicts, the 17 in which insurgents relied heavily on "contraband finances" lasted on average 48 years--over five times as long as the rest. "If the criminal underworld can keep terrorist coffers flush," says Charles, the former State Department official, "we will continue to face an enemy that would otherwise run out of oxygen."
It is clear that drug cartels and extortion rackets play a key role in financing the terrorists. Some of the terrorist groups provide "foot soldiers" to the mafia groups in return for financial assistance. We need to come heavy on these groups in order to eliminate terror. Read the whole thing.