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Featured Title: Crime-Terror Alliances and the State

This new book by Lyubov Mincheva and Ted Gurr examines the political economy of transborder violence on the European Periphery that poses grave threats to domestic and international security in Europe and elsewhere. The units of analysis are unholy alliances, i.e. hybrid transborder militant and criminal networks, which have been active in the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s. The concept of Unholy Alliances is extended to also include the trans-state criminal syndicates that arise in failed and dysfunctional states, or operate within the global illicit economy. It also addresses the question of what reigns supreme in securing the militants’ long term success: money; or social endowment, including strong identity networks?

Three major objectives guide this research. One is defining Unholy Alliances. This complex dependent variable, focused on the interaction between crime and violence, is defined and explained by looking at actors. Three patterns of interaction show how militants may operate or cooperate with illegal enterprise. The first pattern is characterized by a mix of opportunistic and pragmatic objectives; in the second pattern militants are driven by ideological objectives; while networks of the third type are almost wholly predatory.

The book’s second objective is to identify the conditions prompting the establishment of Unholy Alliances. The authors argue that transborder identity networks provide the setting where militant organizations using violent strategies – insurgency and terrorism – operate. Ongoing armed conflict is a key factor forging alliances of convenience. Another factor is the availability of local criminal markets and networks, which expand in interaction with the global illegal economy. Still another factor is the availability of weak states, black spots, as well as corrupted and criminalized states bordering on states in conflict. Not least, supra-national institutions interact with crime and violence in a quest to counter it.

The book’s third objective is to identify successful fund-raising models used by networks of transborder militants. These include sponsorship, donation, predation and enterpreneurship. Each of them has been analyzed in view of its profitability, risks, and regional strategies for controlling them.

The Unholy Alliances project examines six paired case studies, including the cross-border ethnonational movements of the Kosovar Albanians and the Turkish Kurds; the trans-border religious movements of the Islamists in Bosnia and Algeria; as well as the dysfunctional and vulnerable states of Bulgaria and Serbia, the first transitioning to a market economy; the second pursuing radical nationalist politics. The case study material is complemented by analysis of information from open-source coding by the Minorities at Risk Organizational Behavior (MAROB) project of criminal activities by ethnic organizations in the Middle East and post-Communist countries. The book’s major finding suggests that militants depend on money to survive and succeed; however availability of strong identity networks and in-group support is just as important as money for their survival.

There are three meta-strategies for containing Unholy Alliances. One is the pursuit of closely coordinated regional security policies, those that increase the costs and reduce the opportunities for terror, international criminal activity, and state corruption. Regional coordination and direction is key here. The second meta-strategy is to provide identity groups with open political channels for pursuing their interests, including sub-state autonomy. The third is diversion of illicit economic activity, and gains, into the legitimate economy.

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  1. Crime-Terror Alliances and the State

    Ethnonationalist and Islamist Challenges to Regional Security

    By Lyubov Grigorova Mincheva, Ted Robert Gurr

    Series: Contemporary Security Studies

    This book examines the trans-border connections between militant and criminal networks and the relationship between these and the states in which they operate. "Unholy alliances" is a term used to describe hybrid trans-border militant and criminal networks that pose serious threats to security in...

    Published December 7th 2012 by Routledge