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Nov 8, 2017 in Informative
Organized Crime and Terrorism
The research paper aims at discussing at length organized crime and terrorism and terrorism in America. It looks at the history of Organized crime, provides a detailed discussion of a criminal organization in the US, the types of crimes it engages, its leadership, and the rivals. It also provides the history of terrorism in America including domestic terrorism, the most devastating attack on the US soil, and a detail of the terrorist activities and the organizations behind them. Terrorism and organized crimes are some of the current problems facing the US and the rest of the world. The information in the research was sourced majorly from government websites, journals, articles, and also from books. The research found out that both terrorism and organized crime have effects that are detrimental, and they include loss of lives, damage to property, injuries to those involved and also those not involved, political instability, social disruption, and psychological problems such as fear and depression. Another major finding was that terrorism results in implementation of laws and programs that encourage racial profiling. The government should adjust its security policies that aim to minimize the effects of terrorist and organized crime groups. The crime-terror nexus is highly dependent on the activities of organized crime groups. Therefore, there should be an integrated approach that focuses on eliminating organized crime groups.
1. Introduction to Terrorism
Organized crime a systematically unlawful activity by a group of individuals working together to illicit profit through violent and illegal means. The activities they engage in are prostitution, labor racketeering, gambling, loan-sharking, the supply of illegal goods and services, and narcotics. Organized crime attributes include an organized structure, secrecy, illegal activities, restricted membership, violence, legitimate business penetration, lack of ideology, and corruption. Gangs may sometimes become adequately systematic to be called organized. In the US, racketeering is the term that describes the act of engaging in criminal activity as a structured group. Usually, criminal groups partly rely on the society upon which they exist for support. Hence, it is often convenient and practical for them to compromise some upright members of the society. These practices are common especially with members of the judiciary, legislature, and police forces through blackmail, bribery, and also through the cultivation of mutually dependent relationships with legitimate businesses. Consequently, organized crime groups are incorporated into the lawful society, shielded by corrupt politicians, legal counsel, and law officers.
2. History of Organized Crime in America
Organized crime dates back to the 1800s when notorious groups such as the Forty Thieves in New York were in existence. This gang comprised of immigrants whose union was fostered by the need for protection and financial gains. The members felt that they could depend on one another and viewed organized crime as a way to improve their livelihood and find protection from corrupt officers and other gangs. This gang comprised of Irish-Americans who lived in shanties and if they were lucky to have jobs, they got very low wages. The group issued members with criminal assignments after which they received quotas for the number of unlawful acts they were expected to commit. The gang became so successful that it got involved in many activities including politics. William “Boss” Tweed, a prominent member, even got elected as an official and took charge of Tammany Hall. By 1850s however, the group dissolved and the members joined other gangs to start rival groups that comprised of low-income individuals of the same ethnical backgrounds and living together in slums (National Museum of Crime & Punishment, 2016).
Organized groups continued to flourish over the ensuing years, but the most outstanding gang was the Mafia also called La Cosa Nostra (our thing). It comprised of Italian immigrants who worked together to eliminate poverty and fight oppression using ways like extortion, prostitution, and sale of drugs. Initially, the name Mafia was a loose association of middle-aged Sicilians who collaborated for vigilante law enforcement and protection at the time when the Spanish occupied the island. Because of mistrust for the Spanish law enforcers, the locals organized their protection societies that ultimately developed into the Mafia. This protector role trickled into the US in the early 1900s as Italian immigrants with no mastery in English clustered in the same neighborhood. Americans living in these localities became suspicious of new migrants with little English knowledge. Italians who thought they could not depend on the biased and crooked police for protection, resorted to the Mafiosi (member of the Mafia).
Before the Prohibition era, the Mafia were only feared and recognized. During this period, they became established, successful, and dangerous. In 1920, the US government banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Many Italian families took up the production and distribution of alcohol during this nation-wide prohibition. The gangs countered the efforts by the FBI using well-organized illicit operations. The Al Capone mob in Chicago also emerged during this era. The era featured attacks between families with the hope of one emerging as the leader of the profitable alcohol trade. An example of an incident is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre perpetrated by the Al Capone family. They pretended to be officers and savagely gunned down seven members of the rival Moran crime family. Numerous revelations of compromised municipal officers along with the 1930 Wickersham Commission inquiry that voiced the public disgust suppressed political corruption temporarily. After the repeal of the ban in 1933, liquor became legal again and gangs that were still intact resorted to alternative sources of illegal gains such as narcotic trafficking, labor racketeering, and gambling.
Lucky Luciano and Louis Kepke Buchalter formed the Syndicate, which comprised of numerous crime leaders from all over the country. They created it after realizing that inter-gang fights only had severe drawbacks. The Syndicate helped set boundaries, enforce policies, and distribute crime profits. When Luciano was convicted and sent to Italy and Buchalter executed it was thought that organized crime was terminated in the US. Senator Estes Kefauver’s committee in 1950 and 1951 disclosed that organized crime was still there, but the crime lords escaped prosecution by avoiding direct involvement with criminal behavior and masking themselves behind legitimate business enterprises. In 1957, police in Apalachin, New York found a group of crime lords who were from across the globe. The discovery showed the power and reach of organized crime of the 20th century. The Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in 1970. This act’s purpose was to neutralize the negative effects of organized crime on the economy. The Knapp Commission in 1972 exposed connections between the New York police and organized crime and highlighted further how criminal gangs had influence.
Today’s organized crime structure resembles that of a multinational enterprise as it is now more diversified. Many ethnic groups including the Chinese and the Latinos have broken into organized crime through the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. White-collar crimes including stock swindling and health insurance fraud have found their way into organized criminal activities. Crimes like extortion and rackets are on the decline. Online extortion and identity theft are the latest crime by organized criminals (u-s-history.com, 2016).
3. The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
The MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) is one of the most dangerous operating currently within the US. The group is gaining popularity with an around 10,000 members in the US alone and 50,000 in Central America. Current estimates state that it operates in around thirty states in the US. Their strongholds include Los Angeles in California, Washington D.C, and New York.
The MS-13 group originated from El Salvator when a violent civil war erupted between the government and the guerilla groups that opposed it. Many Salvadorians lost their lives, and some fled to escape this chaotic and disorganized environment. Many of them who came to the US settled in Washington and Southern California. (LA). Those in LA were mistreated by the Mexican Mafia that dominated this area and in response Salvadorian youths began to join hands to protect themselves. Friends who often went to rock parties together and spent their time at Sol International Park formed the gang and named it Mara Salvatrucha and due to their love for rock music adopted the devil horns as their hand sign. Mara meant gang and Salvatrucha denoted street tough. The gang increased its numbers and activities and in 1973 its leaders formed an alliance with the Mexican Mafia to facilitate their illicit activities. The number 13 was added to signify the letter M as the thirteenth in the alphabet and to mark them as Surenos officially (Southern California gang). They expanded and started accepting members from Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peruvians, and Honduras. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act passed in 1996 affected the gang as members were arrested and deported to their countries. They bonded with fellow deportees while at home and consequently, the gang began to flourish in South and Central America.
Prospective members undergo a trial period that involves participation in gang activities before initiation. Male members get initiated through jumping-in (thirteen seconds beating). Females may also use jumping-in or perform sexual rituals with thirteen gang members. Ages of the members range from eight to forty years, and they may come from middle school, juvenile correctional centers, and high schools. The members use the blue and white colors of the Salvadoran flag for identification. They also have tattoos all over their bodies such as the number 13, MS-13, and Salvatrucha among others. The machete signifies acts of violence committed by gang members involving these weapons. They devil horns is a hand sign used by gang MS-13 members and looks like an upturned M (Criminal Investigative Division & MS-13 National Gang Task Force, 2005).
MS-13 is organized into cliques with specific names and function to protect a certain territory. Cliques operate independently but may come together for a common course e.g. a perceived threat, sale of drugs and weaponry. Each clique has its leader often called a shot caller. Larger factions adopt a military type of organization. Shot callers attend regional gang meeting to discuss recruitment and punishment for violations. The autonomy and independence of cliques made it hard to form a central leadership. The gang has its rules, codes of conduct, and punishment for law breakers. After initiation, each member is handed the thirteen rules of the gang some of which have relations with their arch rivals the 18th street gang. For example, every 13th day of a month a member of the 18th street gang is killed, they cannot use the words with cho (eight), and also, they cannot tie their laces in the shape of an eight. Other rules stress the need to follow the orders from superior gang members failure to which resulted in death. Members are not allowed to exit the group once initiated and can only leave through death. Members share belongings with one another, and they cannot snitch on each other. Members have to recruit, kill, bring profits and show roughness when the need arises. Gang rules also specify the term “green light” that dictates that it is time to kill. The gang has set out a very democratic and organized way to deal with any violations of the rules of the gang. A prominent example was seen in the case of Brenda Paz, who stopped being an MS-13 member and joined the FBI as an informant to assist in federal investigations against the gang. A comprehensive investigation was conducted and when she was found guilty a group of her close friends who were also MS-13 members lured her into a road trip where they stabbed her to death.
Members of the MS-13 are notorious for their participation in many criminal activities within the US. These actions are influenced by their origins as some were members of the guerilla warfare during the civil wars in El Salvador and knew how to use weapons. For instance, Ernesto Miranda, one of the earliest leaders of the gang was a military soldier. He passed these training to new recruits. The MS-13 are infamous for their involvement in drug trafficking. Some reports show evidence of drug trafficking in states like Massachusetts, Nevada, and California among others. Gang leaders such as Nelson Comandari were arrested for trafficking drugs, stolen vehicles, weapon and humans across the US border. The gang members also engage in violent activities including robbery, rape, homicide, extortion, assault with weapons, and kidnapping. They use weapons such as machetes, bats, and guns. Additionally, they participate in money laundering. Many gang members work in construction sites, hotels, grocery stores, car shops and some are even managers at different businesses. They launder illegal proceeds from prostitution, drugs, and robbery through these businesses. They participate in prostitution activities in states like Virginia and New Jersey. Some MS-13 members own prostitution houses that recruit young women. They also extort businesses that operate within their territories (Criminal Investigative Division & MS-13 National Gang Task Force, 2005).
4. Rivals of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
MS-13 has many rivals across the US. These rivalries are based on territorial acquisition and sometimes lead to violence, deaths, and destruction of property. Their archrival is the 18th street gang that was founded in the 1960s and majorly centered in Los Angeles to protect Latino immigrants from other gangs. The gang operates in US, Canada, and Central America. It is also known as Barrio 18 or M-18. This group engages in many criminal activities including assault, arson, money laundering, human trafficking, theft, murder, kidnapping, illegal gambling, document forgery, fraud, and extortion. This gang is infamously known as “The Children’s Army” because of its famed recruitment of middle age and elementary children. Members mostly range from 13-28 years. Currently, the gang has more than 65,000 members worldwide. The gang members protect fellow members and interference with a member is not taken lightly and may lead to a violent dispute. They follow strict rules and regulations such as forbidden use of cocaine, crack, and other heavy drugs. Failure to follow commands from the leaders or any violation of the rules has serious consequences such as death.
Juarez cartel is also another sworn enemy of the MS-13 gang. It was founded in the early 1970s by Rafael Aguilar Guajardo. Its base is Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua in the US-Mexico border. In the US, the cartel is based in New Mexico and Texas. It engages in crimes such as drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, racketeering, arms trafficking, bribery, money laundering and smuggling of people across the US. They recruit teens mostly to do their activities. This gang is infamous for beheading their victims, mutilating them and then dumping their bodies in public places to instill fear into the law enforcers, the public, and their rivals.
The Latin Kings are also adversaries of the MS-13 gang. It is the largest and one of the most organized Hispanic street gang in the US. It was formed in 1954 in Illinois, Chicago. It predominantly consisted of Mexican and Puerto Rican men. It has two factions, the King Motherland Midwest Faction also known as Almighty Latin King Nation (ALKN). This section is mainly made of Mexicans and has an estimated 20,000 to 35,000 members. The Bloodline East Coast faction is dominated by Puerto Ricans and has around 2,200 to 7,500 members. Their activities comprise battery, extortion, identity document forgery, robbery, firearm and drug trafficking, racketeering, and murder. Their primary source of income is the street-level distribution and sale of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. They are notorious using automatic weapons like 9mm and Mc-10’s. High-ranked officials in the gang have body guards who are fully armed and have bullet proof vests.
The Crips gang is also a rival to the MS-13 group. This group was founded by Raymond Lee Washington and Stanley Tookie Williams in the year 1969. Most of the members of the gang were 16-17 years old teens. The group was formed in Los Angeles, California and majority of the gang members were and still are of African-American descent. The group expanded to become one of the most dangerous groups in the US with an estimated population of around 30,000 to 40,000 members from the US and abroad. The name Crips came as a result of their habit of carrying around canes to display their status. People in the neighborhood referred to them as cripples and in short Crips.
The gang consists of leaders who have charisma and a lot of influence. These leaders give priority to expansion of the gang with the aim of increasing the group’s power. The group engages in many criminal activities including drug trafficking, extortion, murder, burglary, prostitution, robbery, money laundering, and theft.
The group members used to dress in blue clothing, but this practice has since diminished because of crackdowns by police on the gang members. Other practices include use of graffiti and also the omission of some letters from the alphabet. They traditionally call each other “Cuzz” which is used as a name for Crip. Calling a Crip a Crab is considered very disrespectful and can have fatal retaliation.
5. Introduction to Terrorism
Terrorism lacks a precise universally identifiable definition. However, the various governments and federations across the world have adopted different definitions to characterize the acts involved in terrorism for legal purposes. Similarly, the security agencies in the United States of America approve disparate statutory excerpts in their classification of acts of terror. There is no consensual agreement regarding a statement that precisely describes terrorism in the broadest, most comprehensive, and non-discriminatory manner. Section 2656f (d) of Title 22 of the United States Code defines it as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents” (Hayward, 2013). The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operates subject to this provision. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), on the other hand, recognizes the ambiguity of the term internationally. Instead, the FBI agency explains the criteria of the act as anything in the context of the following points: Violent actions and aimed to influence or perpetuate intent. The occurrence of the acts of terror within or without the jurisdiction of the United States territory determines whether they are international or domestic. Subject to these points, the FBI defines terrorism as the unlawful violent acts that endanger the lives of human beings committed with the intention to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or change the government policy and conduct through mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, and killing. Domestic terrorism primarily occurs within the territorial jurisdiction of the Unites States (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016). If the means of accomplishment of the operations transcend the boundaries of the U.S, then they are acts of international terrorism. This definition is the most widely accepted across the United States of America because of the inclusion of destruction of property. Notably, both explanations stress on the use of force, the illegality of terrorism, and manipulation strategy.
- 6. History of Terrorism Activities in America
Terrorism is not a new subject in the world, and most certainly not in the U.S. contemporary analysis suggests that it predates warfare because the latter necessitated high levels of sophistication and logistics especially in the formation of armies. Additionally, most of these activities were sporadic rebellions or uprisings. Subsequently, there were more terrorist acts perpetrated than wars fought. Similarly, the same statistics ratio has been carried into the present day. The term was terrorism itself was first used as an expression during the French revolutionary wars by Maximilien Robespierre to signify a tactical instrument of state policy. Contrastingly, it has ever since been associated adversely with violent non-state actors (VNSA).
The earliest violent activities meeting the criteria of the description of terrorism was the Powhatan Indian Attack of March 22, 1622 (Beutel, 2007). Though modeled as an uprising, the attack purposed to push out the English settlers involved the destruction of much of the plantation and mass murders. The attack had devastating effects on the colonists who were forced to retreat to the forts with little supplies after most of their crops were burnt down. The following winter was marked with a lot of deaths due to starvation. There were several attacks of the same nature mostly involving the Indians in feats of vengeance and outright rebellion against the incumbent White population. History would later document a series of racially profiled attacks, purposely aimed at the African-American community. Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist who served as the editor of the Alton Observer newspaper, was assassinated in one of the many typical attacks. These ethnic-based aggressions continued for a better part of the century including the Mormon War of 1838 and Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 (Beutel, 2007). The latter stood out infamously as the single deadliest act of terrorism through the most of that and the successive century.
John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, led a group in the Pottawatomie massacre in a bid to push for an end to slavery. The struggles involving the legality of slavery were climaxed by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, who was against its establishment. The plot was a conspiracy forged by a gang of operatives affiliated to Confederate aimed at destabilizing the government to avoid the imminent defeat of the South. The original plans were to hold the President hostage and use him as a bargaining chip to ask for the release of the Southeners imprisoned. The next and second out of the four presidents to have been murdered was James Garfield. He was shot and killed nearly four months after his inauguration into the Oval Office by Charles Guiteau who believed it would lead to the reunion of the splinter factions of the Republican Party.
The first terrorist organization, since the founding of the United States of America, was a White Supremacy organization known as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) (Beutel, 2007). It was formed in 1867 in the pretext of a non-violent social group by a retired Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forest. Nevertheless, the organization exercised violence in their agitation to champion for the rights of Whites over the African-Americans. They employed intimidating tactics such as beating Black voters and attacking those elected to various posts to discourage civic participation by the Black community. Resultantly, the conservative Democratic Party regained control in Georgia by the end of 1871. The government commissioned a thorough onslaught against the Ku Klux Klan, which eventually contributed to the decline and subsequent disbandment of the group alongside factors such as the irrelevance of the organization.
The short-lived success of the Ku Klux Klan opened the gateway for the development of the initial wave of modern terrorism. Many factors contributed to this change including the rapid industrialization of nations, the growth of a working class of citizens, and the wave of nationalism that swept the world during this period. The political climate and social structure had also changed bringing forth an age of cohesive communities with centralized governments. Additionally, radical political theories were idealized which politically sensitized sections of the population leading to the formation of revolutionary movements shaped like the Ku Klux Klan. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the attacks launched by the groups was improved by the advancements in military technology.
The late nineteenth century saw the development of the idea of anarchism (McCann, 2006). Conceived in Europe, the initiative sought to abolish the central authority that had been established in the states. They idealized societies based on voluntary cooperation rather than submission to force. The principle was driven by the industrial working class who wanted a channel to voice their political concerns, in the scene predominated by the established and inherent ruling classes. They focused on the thought that actions, rather than words, were the best way to express themselves. This notion came to be popularly known as the ‘Propaganda of Deed’ that was interpreted as the waging of communal violence, political assassinations, and public bombings.
Their first attack was the Haymarket Square Bombing of 1886 which went unsolved (McCann, 2006). It was followed by the murder of President William McKinley in September 1901 by Leon Czolgosz (McCann, 2006). Despite their early successes, evidenced by the global spectacle caused by the eventful assassinations of presidents, anarchism waned by the turn of the twentieth century. There were fears that it had grown into a vast network. However, this was not the case. Their reluctance to cooperate with the local social groups and the incongruous organization rendered them ineffective as a political movement. Many of the successive attacks organized by the anarchists, including the 1917 Milwaukee explosions and the 1920 New York City bombing, failed to effect as much impact as the first two, despite the damage inflicted (McCann, 2006). The chief targets of their acts of terror were the political heads and the law enforcement. However, their biggest wave of attacks on the American government occurred in 1919. It was a series of coordinated mail bombings that targetted judges, politicians, law enforcement officers, and prominent business persons. Many high profile citizens were affected including the Attorney General and the Mayor of Seattle. These attacks escalated the already tensed situation in the nation swarmed by fears of the raging revolutions, the Pandemic flu, and the violent labor demonstrations across the country. In response, the Attorney General commissioned the infamous Palmer Raids. The unconstitutionality of the invasions characterized by poor communications, planning, and intelligence regarding the targets of the operations. They were, therefore, objectified as state terrorism.
The period between 1920 and 1960 was marked by racially profiled acts of terror whose victims were members of the African-American community. For instance, air bombing of the Tulsa neighborhood in 1921. 1927 witnessed the deadliest attack on a school in which a school board member killed forty-eight people and injured an additional fifty-eight. Six years later, America had its first case of aviation sabotage when a Boeing 247 was blasted in the air over Indiana.
By 1960, the face of terrorism had changed. The occurrence of the two world wars facilitated advancements in military and communication technology. The wave of nationalism intensified and nations began supporting social concepts of race and ethnicity. However, the legitimacy of international suffered damage. People were desensitized to the adoption of violence and terror tactics in bids of expression against policies formulated by the respective governments. Ideological differences accentuated the tense situation in the world. The major powers gave support to local resistances that used terror antics making the blunt practices employed justifiable. Resultantly, civilians were used as leverage to strong-arm the governments into submission. They became the new targets of terrorism in the new age.
Many terror organizations developed in the aftermath of the second World War driven by various political reasons including the leftist groups, ethno-national factions, and anti-communists. These unions incited violence among partisan sections of the population through propaganda. They included the Puerto Rican militants, anti-Castro militants, the Black Liberation Army, Jewish Defense Forces, and Armed Forces of National Liberation (Chaliand & Blin, 2007). Inspired by the communist ideologies, a domestic terrorist group known as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in the 1960’s. It embraced terror antics as a means of agitating for their grievances which included an end to the Vietnam war and racism. The group later evolved into the Weather Underground in 1969, which was more forceful in its endeavor to push for change. The organization claimed responsibility for twenty-seven bomb attacks including the one on U.S State Department in Washington D.C. The FBI was successful in uncovering the identities of most of the members of the small group. By 1978, it had collapsed.
Another group of armed radicals emerged in 1974 called the Symbionese Liberation Army headed by Donald DeFreeze(Chaliand & Blin, 2007). They aimed to incite a guerilla war against the federal government. They were indiscriminative in their recruitment, and their ranks were composed of Blacks, Whites, anarchists, Latin, and various extremists. They made it to the front page of the newspapers after a successful kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the grandson of the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. She was brainwashed into becoming the face of the planned revolution. The group became difficult to stop due to the coerced silencing of the potential informants. Nevertheless, the police managed to crack down the organization by 1975 through the dispatch of intensive search teams. Hearst was arrested in the process and charged with bank robbery and other charges. The case was recently closed in 2002 after the capture of two of the leaders in 1999 and 2002 respectively.
Americans had become a target of many terrorist attacks. These acts were committed not only on American soil but also internationally. The Middle-East was home to many of the attacks with aims minimize the influence of the federal government in the area (Beutel, 2007). In 1979, a section of radicalized Iranian students sieged the Embassy and took sixty-six hostages. All of them were later freed by the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. Thirty U.S captives would later in 1991 be held hostage in Lebanon by Hezbollah terrorists. In 1983, Islam Jihadists claimed responsibility for two bombing on the U.S Embassy as well as the military barracks in Lebanon. In the same year, a Shiite suicide bomber blasted the U.S Embassy in Kuwait. In 1984, a Kuwait Airways Flight 221, from Kuwait to Pakistan, was hijacked and diverted to Tehran. Resultantly, two Americans were killed. Libya was linked to a series of attacks that affected American citizens including the 1985 Mediterranean Sea shooting of an Italian cruise ship, the simultaneous Vienna and Rome bombings (1985), and the 1986 West Berlin explosions.
With the consent of the Congress through theComprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the American security forces had jurisdiction over international acts of terror that involved the citizens. The authority was expounded further through bills passed in 1986; the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and the Anti-terrorism Acts. The enactment of these laws was influenced by the hijacking and bombing of a Royal Jordanian airliner in Beirut, in which two American citizens were killed (McCann, 2006). In 1988, the aviation industry suffered another terrorist orchestrated setback involving 189 Americans when a plane bound for New York blew up forty minutes into the flight. The complexity of the ensuing investigation necessitated international cooperation and countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Britain sent their police to help in the matter. Forensic specialists wrapped up the case in 1991 after connecting two Libyan intelligence officers. The trials were concluded in 2001 (only one of them was found guilty) and the Libyan government formally accepted responsibility for the damage caused.
In 1993, the fight against terrorism faced a major setback when the Middle-Eastern terrors were brought to the heart of the United States of America (McCann, 2006). The World Trade Centre was the center of the attack that ended up killing six people and injuring thousands more. The bomb, detonated in the parking lot of the North Tower, left a large crater. The initial plot to topple it over the South Tower had failed. However, the damage was still significant. The subsequent investigations led to the eventual arrest of six (out of seven) members, including the mastermind of the attack. The FBI agents later uncovered a group of terrorists in the process of assembling bombs that were to be used in coordinated attacks across the U.S landmarks.
The threats did not subside in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. The United States of America would later be shocked by another gruesome act of terror. This time, it was a homegrown terrorist attack. It was perpetrated by an ex-army officer and a security officer named Timothy McVeigh (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016). The blast carved out a third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and left scores of fatalities (168 people dead and hundreds injured). The crime was resolved with the arrest of Timothy McVeigh alongside two of his friends. He had developed an extremist mentality, which was accentuated by the Waco events two years earlier. It has not been determined, however, whether he was affiliated with any terrorist group.
The biggest terrorist attack launched on American soil occurred in September 2001. The 9/11 act of terror had far-reaching impacts all over the world. It ultimately changed the counter-terrorism antics employed, with most countries investing more funds towards the sector. The Islamic jihadist group, Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack as well as the previous explosions of U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016). Hijackers crashed two commercial planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Two more jets were crashed into the Pentagon and a rural field in Stony Creek Township. The fatalities outnumbered by far any previous terrorist attack in American history.
The fight against terrorism changed drastically in the United States of America in the period succeeding the 9/11 attack. Several of the plots forged have been successfully curbed including the threats posed by the letters laced with anthrax. The Department of Homeland Security was formed composed of several security agencies that function independently to counter terrorism in America. The biggest achievement was the killing of the head of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, in 2011. However, the United States faces a new threat from ISIL ( the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levenant) extremists.
7. Policy Statement
The American government should center most of its law enforcement resources to fight organized crime as these organizations do more havoc than terrorist groups. They participate in a lot of criminal activities including drug and human trafficking, robbery, kidnapping, racketeering, extortion, murder, money laundering, among other sordid offenses. These syndicates also operate all year around unlike terrorism and as a result, they may cause mayhem they are not watched continuously. Appropriation of law enforcement resources is logical to ensure that they fight these criminal organizations and reduces the focus on counter-terrorism.
Besides, research conducted by the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) established that transnational crime groups and terrorist have a point of confluence (Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, 2016). More often than not, terrorists arrested are found to be linked to Organized Crime Groups. For instance, the Brothers’ Circle has been identified by the Obama administration as a national threat and is connected to terror groups. Organized crime and terrorism have a collaborative relationship that relies heavily on the role of the former in destabilizing the government for the terror attacks to take full effect. A case study by the Terrorism Research Initiative in Africa (more specifically Sub-Saharan Africa) detailed the crime-terror nexus (Hübschle, 2011). It highlighted the role Organized Crime Groups have played in the weakening of the criminal justice system and the law enforcement hence paving the way for the subsequent terror attacks. Moreover, the groups establish ideal corruption networks and cartels that create the necessary environment to enable the funding of terrorist organizations.
In a nutshell, the same nexus is applicable in the United States. The local gangs serve in the same capacity, punching vulnerabilities in the U.S that create an environment that facilitates the occurrence of terror attacks. There is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of ties between Organized Crime Groups and terrorism. Both have been determined to thrive in areas experiencing political instability. The network is highly operative in countries that are destabilized such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. It has crept into the Balkans region as well due to the relative instability. The biggest threat emanates from the fact that these crime organizations have no limitations to the groups with whom they engage deals. The alliance between these groups and terrorists may create an impetus for drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, money laundering, and weapon smuggling. All these are avenues of funding for the extremist organizations. There is still more evidence that points to the detrimental effect of a potential alliance in the United States; the Al-Qaeda in The Islamic Maghreb make use of the criminal networks in West Africa to facilitate their heroin trade in Europe (Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, 2016). Further analysis concluded that the terror and organized crime groups enter collaborative relationships for logistical support and security. The considerable influence of the latter in the respective regions is necessary security the terror organizations require to facilitate their processes.
Assessments such as the contribution of illegal immigration to the increase in acts of terror have failed to determine any precise and definitive trends. They only facilitate the implementation of racially discriminatory laws and programs. The possibility of alliances between the local gangs and terrorists is, however, a threat to the national security. As noted in the previous paragraphs, the collaboration contributes to the likely growth of both groups, but only to a certain extent. Further alliances are improbable due to the ideological differences between the two; organized crime aims to sustain levels of power to guarantee maximum profitability while terrorism’s basic objective is destabilizing the government. Nevertheless, the incidence of such collaboration cannot be entirely disputed based on this assumption. Besides, by the time the two are unable to maintain the liaison due to the differences, considerable damage would have been done. It calls for an integrated approach towards the formation of security policies that predominantly focuses on the push to eliminate the organized crime groups which facilitate the geographical expansion of terrorist groups and provide avenues of funding them.