Alleged Al Qaeda income the 911 commission verdict

By Dale Griffin,2014-06-17 23:25
20 views 0
Alleged Al Qaeda income the 911 commission verdict ...

    The Political Economy of Paramilitariy Persistence


    The Business of Terrorism Revisited



    Why are paramilitaries not the same as terrorists?

This article analyses the political economy of paramilitaries. It is argued that the term

    “paramilitaries” is both more value- free and less arbitrarily inclusive than “terrorism” ,enabling a

    clearer identification of similarities and differences between groups using violence in pursuit of

    political goals. It is further argued that, for purposes of comparison and policy evaluation,

    typologising is necessary but that traditional typologies that concentrate on ideological factors

    and political goals cannot accommodate the fact that paramilitary movements change structure

    1and motivation over time. To persist, paramilitaries must handle functional imperatives in a low-

    risk way and movements that do not succeed in this fail to continue in existence, either because

    they fail to resist attrition from internal pressures or external ones [ law enforcement: detection,

    imprisonment, death; political: criminalisation, extension of law, genocide, use of force; social

    improvement: greater isolation, marginalisation, removal of political favour]. Above all, to persist,

    paramilitaries need continued access to money. The effect of this requirement on them has been

    inadequately studied, particularly with regard to their adoption of the methods of organised crime

    groups, which in turn has implications for the development of typologies. The “military” features of

    paramilitaries have received most analysis and they are rarely looked at as organisations trying to

    maintain a secure cash flow under constant threat from law enforcement investigation. A political

    economy approach improves upon a purely structural form of analysis, by permitting comparison

    with organised crime, allowing the incorporation of an examination of the legal/illegal interface

    and of the phenomena of persistence and structural change. It will be concluded that these

    organisations are as much para-businesses as they are paramilitaries

The analysis follows those criminologists who have argued that organized crime is a business,

    and, consequently, juxtaposes the recent UNODC typology of organized crime groups, to a

     1 The article follows Easton in his use of the term “persist” as a better one than “survive”. The

    author follows Easton in his interest as to the reasons political phenomena persist rather than

    perish. See Easton D.


    2traditional typology of terrorist groups. If it is correct to argue that a paramilitary organization

    needs to become a business to persist in the contemporary world, then this will inevitably

    challenge the priority of political goals upon which traditional typologising has been centred. The

    3author has already published a study of the IRA and Republican Movement as a business. This

    article expands the analysis to al Qaeda, which is ideologically different to the IRA, transnational

    in character rather than domestic and with conflicting published accounts of its wealth. It then

    looks briefly at a variety of other groups to extend the discussion of the relationship between

    funding methods, political aims and organizational structures into areas not brought out by the

    analysis of al Qaeda and the IRA.

When discussing terrorism, the definitional problem still remains central. Terrorism is primarily a

    pejorative term. Any study of a terrorist organisation raises questions about the legitimacy of the

    4state and the morality of challenging it by violent means. Although individual terrorists are charged before the courts with individual criminal acts, it can be argued that the phenomenon is

    primarily a political one and that it is possible to debate the relationship between a just cause and

    5the employment of illegal means to achieve it. Opponents seek to call organisations terrorist” to

    6prevent them gaining the status of national liberation movements. An officially recognized national liberation movement, such as the PLO, the ANC, or SWAPO before the independence of

    7Botswana, can qualify for observer status at the UN. This in turn facilitates financial support from

     2 Smith, D.C. [1978] Organized Crime and Entrepeneurship International Journal of Criminology

    and Penology 6 1978 pp161-77

    Smith D.C. [1980] Paragons Pariahs and Pirates: A Spctrum-based theory of Enterprise. Crime

    and Delinquency, 26, 1980: pp358-86

    Haller M.H. Illegal Enterprise: A Theoretical and Historical Interpretation Criminology, 28 [2],

    1990,: pp207-35

    Gambetta D. [1994] Inscrutable Markets Rationality and Society,6[3]: 353-68 Ibid. [1993] The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private protection, , Harvard University

    Press, Cambridge Mass

    3 Tupman W.A. "Violent Business? Networking, Terrorism and Organised Crime" in I. McKenzie

    [ed.] Law, Power and Justice in England and Wales Praeger 1998 Tupman W.A. “Where has all the Money gone? The IRA as a Profit-making Concern” Journal of Money-Laundering Control Vol 1 No.4 pp303-311 April 1998 4 A. Arblaster: "Terrorism: Myths, Meanings and Morals" Political Studies vol XXV. No.3. pp413 - 424 5 cant remember the theorists who justified right to rebel against a tyrant. Aristotle started it did he? 6 A. Arblaster : "Terrorism: Myths, Meanings and Morals" Political Studies vol XXV. No.3. pp413 - 424 7thth 76 Plenary Session of the General Assembly A/RES/43/160 8 Dec 1988


other states. The UN also continues to find this a political conundrum, especially where the Arab-

    8Israeli dispute is concerned. The US has followed British legal practice in evading the problem

    of defining terrorism and terrorist offences and instead listing proscribed movements. Its list

    includes Hizballah, Hamas and the PFLP, without whose consent a peace settlement in the

    Middle East is simply unachievable. Nevertheless Executive Order 13224 blocks their assets and


Paramilitarism is a more useful concept. It has become more acceptable to refer to “the

    10paramilitaries” in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process. The term “paramilitary” includes those groups that maintain some form of violent capacity and yet are not in any way part

    of the State and prevents the exclusion of groups because a commentator may approve of their

    cause. Although institutions employed by the State and individuals employed by the State may

    be used to terrorise opponents of the State one would not want to call them paramilitary unless

    they were being used in a freelance way. Using the term paramilitarism also enables the

    inclusion in this study of organised crime groups where these groups seek to challenge the

    State‟s monopoly of legitimate coercive force or provide force because the State has failed to

    provide it, for example, to enforce contracts. Also by using the term paramilitarism it is possible

    to look at ideological groups of right and left, religious groups or cultural groups without getting

    11involved in the question as to the legitimacy of their cause or their tactics. Finally it permits a broader view of the violence used by such groups, expanding the scope for study beyond bombs

    12and shootings

    13Gambetta and others have argued that organised crime is increasingly a business. It follows the successful contemporary business model characterised by networks, or loose associations of

    1415individuals and groups. It is no longer dominated by centralised , hierarchical organisation.

     8 discussion on definitional problems: Rather lurid front page for “UN action against terrorism” 9 see: for a statement of the history of the Order

    and for the present situation 10 para 13 of the Joint declaration by the British and Irish Governments of April 2003 illustrates

    the breadth of activities that can be included under the heading of paramilitarism

     11 para 13 of the Joint declaration by the British and Irish Governments of April 2003 illustrates

    the breadth of activities that can be included under the heading of paramilitarism 12 P. Wilkinson the New Fascists

    This also a problem for Northern Ireland. “Punishment beatings” and “kneecappings” are carried

    out frequently by paramilitaries, with the result that elected politicians argue that violence has not

    been truly abandoned by them. 13 [Fiorenti and Peltzman 1995 14 Yiu.Kong.Chu The Triads as Business Routledge London 2000 pp125-128


Gambetta has also argued that violence is itself a business; that it is a service that can be bought

    16and sold. There is a third relevant aspect of Gambetta‟s analysis which began with a study of the Sicilian Mafia. Where the state is weak, it is difficult for suppliers and purchasers of goods to

    17enforce contracts. Those who can sell violence can, in effect, become contract insurers and

    18enforcers. It is only a short step to becoming licensers of business activities. Organised crime,

    too, has a problem of contract enforcement. It is no good taking someone to court for failure to

    pay for a consignment of illegal narcotics.

Is there a fourth Gambetta point or is it Andvig et al? That the temptation to take over other

    businesses is irresistible if you‟ve got the monopoly of violence?

It follows that, if organized crime is a business, and if paramilitarism follows the fundraising

    methods of organized crime, then we should also be analyzing the business aspects of

    paramilitarism. There is little study of paramilitarism/terrorism as an economic phenomenon and

    19the methods by which organisations fund themselves. Those paramilitary organisations that survive for a significant period of time do so by engaging in many activities other than violence.

    Elsewhere, this author has argued that successful terrorist groups survive by resorting to funding

    20methods copied from organised crime. They also have to recruit; they have to train; they have to

    engage in peaceful political activity, where this is legal, they have to support prisoners‟ families and they have to obtain legal services. The individuals that engage in these latter activities are

    much more loosely organised than the individuals that engage in the paramilitary violence, yet are

    21associated with them in a non-hierarchical relationship. In this sense groups have moved away from the hierarchical “army” model of paramilitarism towards the ”core group” model increasingly

    developing in organized crime too, as the UNODC typology below lays out.

In terms of Gambetta‟s second point, paramilitary organizations are well placed to sell violence to

    organized crime and to replace them as traditional purveyors of violence. Paramilitaries also

    need weapons. In the process they have to set up smuggling services. They thus have a second

    business activity from which they can sell spare capacity. It is only a small step from that

    realization to the linked idea that it makes sense to smuggle small volume, high value goods in

    order to obtain the funds necessary for the weapons themselves. Drugs and high value raw

     15 ibid p 29 16 Gambetta 17 Gambetta 18 Gambetta or is it Andvig et al? 19 Napoleoni L. Modern Jihad, Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Network, Pluto ; 20 Tupman 1998 21


materials such as diamonds and other precious and semi-precious stones are obvious


As regards Gambetta‟s third point, it is increasingly alleged that paramilitaries “licence” illicit

    businesses to operate in their areas of control, for a price.. Those that survive over a period of

    years can also take on a broader “policing” role, particularly where they have effective control of

    23neighbourhoods or regions. Gambetta‟s second and third points are also relevant to the potential role of paramilitaries in a globalising economy. Thus far work has concentrated on

    24measures to disrupt terrorist financing, but their actual activities remain sparsely documented.

    Organised crime groups engaged in financial crime or in the movement of illicit commodities may

    find it more efficient and cost effective to hire paramilitary services for contract enforcement and

    for escort duties. Policing a contract between drug producers, traffickers and sellers which

    involves relationships between a number of countries requires a fairly sophisticated and mobile

    enforcement organisation. ETA is geographically positioned in Europe and Latin America in such

    a way as to be able to provide this and its relationship with the IRA means that it can also call on

    fairly professional backup. The organisations moving human beings from China to Western

    Europe via Russia, Moldova, and other places in former Communist countries, may also require

    such a service. To provide it for the purposes of the prostitution industry may be unacceptable to

    political paramilitaries but to provide it for people seeking employment may be perfectly

    acceptable and also seen as part of their campaign of economic warfare. Such evidence as

    exists suggests that the Chinese organised crime community likes to keep this sort of operation

    within the Chinese diaspora but some of the organisations operating out of the former East

    European communist states may require enforcement services in order to get paid as well as to

    provide escort to the individuals concerned. The global economy certainly exists under

    conditions of a weak state similar to those described by Gambetta when the Mafia grew in

    southern Italy. The war on terrorism”, by making more activities illegal, may be creating new areas of global economic activity in which contract enforcement cannot be carried out legally.

    Consequently, those organizations that can sell violence can expand their areas of operations.

    The policy may be aimed at destroying terrorism but in fact is embedding it further into the illicit


     22 Howard Marks Mr. Nice Vintage Random House London 1998 p78 also Chaps 4 and 5 passim 23 Triads, Mafia maybe IRA 24 T.J.Biersteker “Targeting Terrorist Finances: the New Challenges of Financial Market

    Globalization” in K.Booth and T.Dunne “Worlds in Collision: Terror and the Future of Global

    Order” Palgrave Macmillan Basingstoke and New York 2002 pp74-84


The organization of organised crime has also converged to some degree with paramilitary

    25organisation, copying the cellular structure. Increasingly it consists of networks of people who

    may only come together for a specific operation and the rest of the time may be engaged in

    completely different organisations and completely different and even legal work, especially where

    26these individuals are lawyers or accountants. The same individuals engaged collectively in

    illegal activity may simultaneously be engaged in legal activity. This is equally true of the IRA.

    Post 1968 paramilitary activity was based on 5 man cells, or Active Service Units [ASUs] in the

    Northern Ireland context. These are operationally autonomous but will have required logistical

    and other support, which may have involved fund raising as well as other activities on a sub-

    provincial basis and quite independent of the central Army Council, the body that allegedly “runs”

    27the IRA. The recent ?26 million bank robbery in Northern Ireland illustrates how much we need

    to know the degree to which these operations were audited by a central body, or whether the IRA

    28has followed organised crime in becoming what Van Duyne has described as “non-organised”.

    This leads on to the question of other shared features of the environment which mean that

    organized crime and paramilitarism operate in the same kind of way, to which return will be made

    in the conclusion.

    For example, neither paramilitarism” and “organized crime” are uni-dimensional phenomena. They consist of a variety of types of organization. In the case of organized crime, the

    organizations have in common the pursuit of profit by criminalized means, including violence, and

    in the case of “paramilitaries” the pursuit of political goals by violent as well as other criminalized

    means including illicit business. Organised crime can also play political roles, even pursue

    political power, to protect its illicit profits, and paramilitaries can pursue profit in order to further

    their political goals, including engaging in “economic warfare”. Increasingly, both engage in a mixture of legal and illegal activities and are less and less hierarchically organized in order to

    make law enforcement penetration of their organisation more difficult.

Organised crime groups have been subdivided into separate types as have paramiliataries. The

    typology of organized crime that follows is based on structural factors for reasons given below by its creators, the UNODC researchers. The typology of paramilitaries that follows that is based on

    political aims as will be discussed below. If Gambetta‟s analysis is to be followed, some analysis of the businesses of both and their effect on both structure and goals needs to be incorporated,

     25 26 27 28th Van Duyne 1993 p10]. Statement by Northern Ireland Secretary BBC 8 January 2005


especially if a clearer understanding is to be gained of the way such organizations change over

time and appropriate strategies adopted to deal with them.



    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime have developed the typology below as a “typology of typologies”. They studied 40 organised criminal groups across 16 countries and found 5 “broad

    29typologies of criminal groups”. Within each they anticipate the discovery of further types or

    sub-types . Their intention is to provide a framework within which information on trends in

    organized crime can be placed. This, in turn, should ensure that the correct strategy is applied to

    the appropriate type of group. They also wish to provide greater detail as to what phenomena

    exist within the concept of “transnational organised crime”. The document does not, however,

    provide an economically determined model but one structurally determined. It does describe the

    activities of the groups seen as examples in each of the categories.

    30Table 1 UN typologies of contemporary organised crime groups

Standard hierarchy Single hierarchical group with strong internal

    systems of discipline Regional hierarchy Hierarchically structured groups, with strong

    internal lines of control and discipline, but with

    relative autonomy for regional components.

    Clustered hierarchy A set of criminal groups which have

    established a system of coordination/control,

    ranging from weak to strong, over all their

    various activities Core group A relatively tightly organized but unstructured

    group, surrounded in some cases by a network

    of individuals engaged in criminal activities.

    Criminal network A loose and fluid network of individuals, often

    drawing on individuals with particular skills,

    who constitute themselves around an ongoing

    series of criminal projects.

The typologies as presented appear to be clusters on a continuum from hierarchical to

    “unorganised”. There is no clear set of variables provided on which the typology is based,

    although there are references to the ability to use violence as well as to the type of business

    engaged in . The authors assert that most such typologies are based on structure and that they

    31did attempt to develop typologies on a different basis, but unsuccessfully. Nevertheless this provides quite an interesting conceptual framework for comparison between organised crime and

    paramilitary groups. The standard hierarchy, for example, is clearly comparable to the classical

    Leninist communist party. FARC and Shining Path would fit this category and perhaps some of

     29 ibid p33 30 UN Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC] “Results of a Pilot Survey of Forty Selected

    Organised Criminal Groups in 16 Countries” Sept 2002 31 ibid p 34 and footnote 29


the armies of the Shan States, with the proviso that they control large areas of remote rural

    territory, apparently unlike any of the gangs mentioned in the UNODC typology. The Medellin and

    Cali cartels would have been comparable and like FARC were Colombia based The IRA would

    be closer to the regional hierarchy in the 1970s. But both before and after the ceasefire it may be

    becoming more akin to the clustered hierarchy or even, as the ceasefire progresses, to the core


    The first group, the “standard hierarchy”, tend to use violence, be medium sized [50-200 people] and begin their operations with extortion. They then invest wealth in legitimate businesses such

    as casinos, night clubs and restaurants. They also engage in illegal activities including gambling

    houses, prostitution, cigarette smuggling and racketeering. Often illegal activities are carried out

    32between legitimate businesses. They also seek to corrupt officials and political representatives.

    33Surprisingly, of the 40 groups analysed as many as 13 fitted this model. Y K Chu in his work on

    the Triads suggests that the situation in Chinese crime is quite different to that described in the


The second group, the regional hierarchy, interestingly enough is portrayed as often having a

    strong social or ethnic identity and being involved in multiple activities. The researchers comment

    that regional hierarchies appear to operate a “franchise model” where regional groups pay money

    35to the centre in order to use the name of a criminal group. The example given is that of the

    outlaw motor cycle gangs, not, however, the Hells Angels, but the Australian variant, who engage

    in growth and sale of cannabis and the production of amphetamines, seeking to dominate

    particular territorial markets . The other examples given are of the Asian and Italian organised

    crime groups . The researchers may be conflating two different phenomena here. The franchise

    phenomenon is quite different to a territorially-based concept of regional hierarchies and

    exemplified by the distinction and al-Qaeda in its post-Afghanistan phase of activity [see below]

    and the IRA. The outlaw motorcycle gangs produce and distribute amphetamines and cannabis.

    They are also engaged in insurance scams, vehicle theft and trafficking, extortion and other

    36crimes. The Japanese and Italian regional organised crime groups referred to, are not

    37discussed in terms of multiple economic activities which are not specified.

    The third type, “clustered hierarchy is said to be extremely rare, consisting of a number of criminal groups with arrangements to minimise conflict between them and to regulate that conflict

     32 ibid p 35 33 ibid p35 34 Chu, Y.K. The Triads: 35 UNODC p36 36 ibid p 36 37 ibid p 37


    38when it occurs. The post ceasefire IRA seems to be somewhere between the regional

    hierarchy and the clustered hierarchy as it varies its modus operandi in fundraising in different

    39parts of the province and in Ireland itself. The example given in the UN document is the 28 gang

    40from South Africa‟s prisons. Drugs, particularly synthetic drugs is the only activity, that is mentioned. Another example given is the Ziberman Group, which is involved in illegal trade in

    41tobaccos, alcohol smuggling, gambling and trafficking in stolen vehicles.

The last two categories, “core group” and “criminal network” represent states of “disorganization”

    that are not obviously applicable to the armed component of paramilitary organisations although

    there may be some common ground with the phenomenon of the Autonomistas which emerged

    after the Red Brigades in Italy. They may also provide a better way of thinking about the

    relationship between the IRA and the Republican movement as a whole or that between ETA and

    Herri Batasuna.

    Type 4, core group, covers such activities as trafficking in human beings, and the examples given are two multi-national groups in the Netherlands. The report also refers to the Mclean

    syndicate from Australia who specialise in the illegal importation of cannabis. On occasion, these

    loosely organised criminal enterprises can assume a corporate structure with a legitimate

    business front. Money laundering and tax and investment fraud are enabled by such

    42organisations. The core group model is distinguished by its anonymity and tends to be small in

    size. The researchers do argue that some of the more hierarchical structures of organised crime

    in the past may now have evolved into the core group type in response to pressure from law

    enforcement agencies.

Two sentences in their report are worth quoting as relevant to the analysis of paramilitaries:

    “Once accepted by the syndicate, the newcomer may only associate with syndicate members

    when his or her particular skills or expertise in a specific field are required. Clearly the most

    important requirement of syndicate membership is the ability for other members to trust the

    43person in question.” The phenomenon described here is similar to that which occurred when the IRA abandoned its battalion paramilitary structure in favour of the ASU cellular structure in the

    early 1970s. ETA, since the granting of autonomy to the Basque region of Spain in the 1978

    Constitution, probably follows a similar model of organization, consisting of a hard core of 20 with

     38 ibid 39 40 UNODC op cit 41 ibid 42 ibid p 40 43


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email