Combatting organised crime and terrorism in Central Asia

Author:Emma van Santen
Position:Department of Political and International Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Pages:309-319
SUMMARY

Purpose This paper aims to examine the shift away from the traditional distinction between organised crime and terrorist groups towards their conceptual convergence under the crime-terror nexus narrative in the context of international security and development policy in post-Soviet Central Asia. It assesses the empirical basis for the crime-terror and state-crime nexus in three... (see full summary)

 
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Combatting organised crime and
terrorism in Central Asia
Emma van Santen
Department of Political and International Studies,
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to examine the shift awayfrom the traditional distinction between organised
crime and terroristgroups towards their conceptual convergence underthe crime-terror nexus narrative in the
context of internationalsecurity and development policy in post-Soviet Central Asia.It assesses the empirical
basis for the crime-terrorand state-crime nexus in three Central Asiancountries Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan and argues that the exclusion of the state from the analytical framework undermines the
relevanceof the crime-terror paradigm for policy-making.
Design/methodology/approach This paper draws ona literature review of academic research, recent
case studieshighlighting new empirical evidence in Central Asia and internationalpolicy publications.
Findings There is a weak empirical connectionbetween organised crime and Islamic extremists,such as
the Islamic Movementof Uzbekistan and Hizbut Tahrir, in Central Asia. The state-crimeparadigm, including
concepts of criminalcapture, criminal sovereignty and criminal penetration,hold more explanatory power for
international policy in Central Asia. The crime-terror paradigm has resulted in a narrow and ineffective
security-oriented lawenforcement approach to counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism but does not address
the underlying weak state governancestructures and political grievances that motivate organised crimeand
terroristgroups respectively.
Originality/value Internationalpolicy and scholarship is currently focussedon the areas of convergence
between organisedcrime and terrorist groups. This paper highlightsthe continued relevance of the traditional
conceptual separationof terrorist and organised crime groups based on their different motives,methods and
relationshipwith the state, for security and democratic governanceinitiatives in the under-researchedCentral
Asian region.
Keywords Terrorism, Crime-terror nexus, Central Asia, Democratic governance, Organised crime,
Criminal state capture
Paper type General review
1. Introduction
Historically, organised crime and terrorist groups have been treated as distinct
organisations (Rossi, 2014). Organised crime are economic, prot-driven enterprises that
seek to inltrate and manipulatestate governance structures to further theireconomic goals
(Rossi, 2014). Terrorist groups seek political change by destabilising the state apparatus
through violent, spontaneous attacks on innocent victims (Rossi, 2014). The increased
opportunity for interaction between organised crime and terrorist groups in the globalised
world has focussed international attention on the international security threat posed by the
crime-terror nexus, that is, the convergence of or alliance between organised crime and
terrorist groups (Rossi, 2014). The traditional distinction between organised crime and
terrorist groups has become irrelevant in operational and policy terms as organised crime
and terrorist groups are countered within the same intelligence-driven, militarised law
enforcement framework (Leong,2007). One of the weaknesses of the crime-terror nexus as a
conceptual tool is that it over-emphasisesthe connection between violent non-state actors at
Organised
crime and
terrorism
309
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.25 No. 2, 2018
pp. 309-319
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1359-0790
DOI 10.1108/JFC-07-2017-0069
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1359-0790.htm

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