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Terrorists Follow Patterns Of Organized Crime

(Washington, DC--October 12, 2001) Governments seeking to cripple terrorist networks by cracking down on their funding sources must recognize that there is "a tremendous overlap" in the methods global terrorists use and those organized crime networks employ, according to an expert on transnational organized crime.

Louise Shelley, director of the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at American University, told an RFE/RL briefing last week that terrorists and organized criminals both co-mingle their finances with the legitimate economy, an approach that makes each of them more difficult to control.

Shelley said that Germany currently is a prime location for the terrorists who carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon precisely because German law places far greater restrictions on undercover policing and thus makes it easier for terrorists to move about. She predicted that post-communist countries may soon displace Germany as a base of operations for both terrorists and organized criminal leaders because these states have "porous financial systems with dollarized economies, casinos and weak enforcement structures."

But precisely because the terrorists are using organized crime approaches, they like other criminal structures are subject to ordinary police activity. That is all the more the case because many terrorists support themselves through petty criminal activities before committing their major attacks.