Viewing organised crime and
through the ﬁnancial threats
they pose to society
Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK,
and University of Law, London, UK
Purpose –The purpose of this paperis to examine whether there is a meaningful difference,viewed from a
ﬁnancial perspective, in distinguishing between organised crime and terroristorganisations, with regard to
the controland mitigationof the threats that they pose to society.
Design/methodology/approach –The paper uses conceptual models obtained from enterprise theory
and economics,as well as criminology, and makes use of case studies through the applicationof these models.
Findings –The paper ﬁnds that when viewed from a ﬁnancialperspective, there is no meaningful difference in
distinguishing between the groups because many have undergone processes of convergence and transformation,
such that they assume each other’s operational and motivational characteristics. However, the answer also
depends on how precisely one deﬁnes each type of illicit group as well as the transitions they undergo.
Originality/value –The value of this paper is thatit applies two separate modelson interactions between
organised crime and terroristorganisations, the terror–crime continuum and interactionspectrum, to real life
situations. After assessing their validity for more recent examples of such illicit groups, it then provides a
balanced argument as to distinguishingbetween organised crime and terrorism. One limitation towards the
paper’s originality,however, is that it draws mainly from pre-existingliterature.
Keywords Convergence, Crime, Organisation, Transformation, Terrorism, Organised
Paper type Research paper
Organised crime and terrorist organisations have conventionally beenperceived as distinct
illicit groups. Owing to their supposed differing motives, the threats they pose to society
have also been distinguished; the threat of organised crime is the potential to subvert the
integrity of legitimate ﬁnancial systems and markets, while terrorist organisations
deliberately challenge the legitimacyof the state and its institutions through the creation of
an uncertain climate (de Boer and Bosetti, 2015). However, the publication of the 2011
Strategy to Combat Transnational Organised Crime represents a recent paradigm shift
towards the view that bothtransnational organised crime (TOC) and terroristgroups pose a
signiﬁcant threat to national security (The White House, 2011). This points to the
development of a “crime–terror nexus”in the period following the Cold War as the
beginning of “threat convergence”.With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
I would like to thank Professor Barry Rider for the guidance he provided me in tackling a question of
such complexity. Furthermore, I would also like to thank Dr Frank Madsen for directing me towards
essential academic sources and models from which I have written the article.
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.25 No. 4, 2018
© Emerald Publishing Limited
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