The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups

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    • Chronicles the rise of domestic groups, including Americans taking up the cause of Jihad with targets inside U.S. borders
    • Assesses international terrorist groups that most threaten U.S. security: the franchises of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, HAMAS, and FARC
    • Analyzes why groups would and would not liaise and discusses emergent activity and trends
    • Presents an analysis of transnational crime, including drugs, human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, kidnapping, and piracy
    • Examines cartel activity at U.S. borders


    Postmodern global terrorist groups engage sovereign nations asymmetrically with prolonged, sustained campaigns driven by ideology. Increasingly, transnational criminal organizations operate with sophistication previously only found in multinational corporations. Unfortunately, both of these entities can now effectively hide and morph, keeping law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the dark and on the run.

    Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that al Qaeda, Hezbollah, FARC, drug cartels, and increasingly violent gangs—as well as domestic groups such as the Sovereign Citizens—are now joining forces. Despite differing ideologies, they are threatening us in new and provocative ways. The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups frames this complex issue using current research and real-world examples of how these entities are sharing knowledge, training, tactics, and—in increasing frequency—joining forces.

    Providing policy makers, security strategists, law enforcement and intelligence agents, and students with new evidence of this growing threat, this volume:

    • Examines current and future threats from international and domestic criminal and terror groups
    • Identifies specific instances in which these groups are working together or in parallel to achieve their goals
    • Discusses the "lifeblood" of modern organizations—the money trail
    • Describes how nefarious groups leverage both traditional funding methods and e-commerce to raise, store, move, and launder money
    • Explores the social networking phenomenon and reveals how it is the perfect clandestine platform for spying, communicating, recruiting, and spreading propaganda
    • Investigates emergent tactics such as the use of human shields, and the targeting of first responders, schools, hospitals, and churches

    This text reveals the often disregarded, misunderstood, or downplayed nexus threat to the United States. Proving definitively that such liaisons exist despite differing ideologies, the book provides a thought-provoking new look at the complexity and phenomena of the terrorist-criminal nexus.

    This book was excerpted in the February/March 2013 issue of The Counter Terrorist.

    Table of Contents

    A Poisonous Brew
    Transnational Organized Crime: The Dark Side of Globalization
    Multinational Corporate Sophistication
    Transnational Organized Crime on the Rise
    Scoping the TOC Challenge
    Fighting Transnational Crime Overseas … and within Our Borders
    National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime
    Agencies and Methods
    Major Areas of Concern, Progress, and Lessons Learned
    Lessons Learned
    Postmodern Terrorist Groups
    Postmodern Organizational Theory: The Rise of Modern Terrorism and Groups
    Modern Terrorism’s Roots
    International Terrorist Groups: The "Big 3"
    Al Qaeda and Affiliates
    Domestic Terrorism and the Homegrown Threat
    History of Domestic Terrorism in the United States
    The Twenty-First Century and the Rising Tide of Domestic Extremism
    Homegrown Terror
    The Lone Wolf
    Gangs: Evolving and Collaborating
    The Way Ahead
    Drug-Trafficking Organizations Go Global
    The Battle in Mexico
    Major DTOs Impacting the United States
    Special Concern: Los Zetas
    DTOs Cross the Border: Cartels in the Heartland
    Nexus Area: Terrorists, SIAs, and DTOs
    Corruption at the Border: Opening the Gates
    DTOs: Foreign Terrorist Organizations?
    Traditional Terrorist and Criminal Financing Methods: Adapting for Success
    Funding Terror
    Earning, Moving, Storing
    Storing, Earning, and Moving
    The Way Forward
    Terrorists and Criminal Exploitation of E-commerce: Following the Money Just Got Tougher
    New Payment Methods Defined
    NPM Financing
    Devices with Stored Value
    Auction and Bulletin Board Websites
    Auction Sites
    P2P Websites
    Digital Precious Metals
    The Battle Ahead
    Exploitation of Social Networking and the Internet
    The Internet: A Twenty-First-Century Black Swan
    Rise of Social Networking: Are We Users … or Targets?
    The Mind as a Battlefield: The War of Ideology
    Looking through a New Lens at Social Networking
    Enter Hackers and Cyber Vigilantes
    The Way Ahead
    Sharing Tactics
    Drug-Trafficking Organizations and Terrorist Group Interface
    IRA Inc.
    Hezbollah and Hamas: Partnering for Success
    IEDs, Fertilizer, and Sticky Bombs
    First Response and the Threat of Secondary Devices
    Use of Human Shields by Terror Groups on the Rise
    Asymmetric Threats
    Conclusions about the Nexus and Thoughts on Resiliency and the Way Forward
    Resiliency as a Weapon
    Appendix: List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
    Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
    Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as Amended
    Legal Ramifications of Designation
    Other Effects of Designation

    Author Bio(s)

    Editorial Reviews

    ... Jennifer L. Hesterman, has a solid professional career as a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel with multiple unit commands, including leadership of an Air Force Base EOC during 9-11... . The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus squarely focuses on the threat posed by violent non-state actors (VNSAs) and their increasing levels of interaction and cooperation. ... As a reviewer, I very much enjoyed the chapters of the work on terrorist and criminal traditional financing methods (Ch. 6) and on terrorist and criminal exploitation of E-commerce (Ch. 7). They provided a nice contrast between the old and the new methods of raising, storing, and moving wealth via the illicit (dark) economy. Also, the inclusion of ‘drug cartels’ in the book – and considered by Hesterman distinct from organized criminals – was of great interest ... .
    —Book review appearing on e-International Relations,

    The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups is the intriguing title of a new book published by CRC Press from an American author. ... To condense the argument of the writer, a former US Air Force colonel; criminals and terrorists use the same technology as the authorities, the good guys - 'sometimes more effectively'. ... Jennifer Hesterman's book like most American works are aimed at North America, but much applies to the UK ... .
    —Book review appearing in Professional Security Magazine Online