Narco-terrorism, narco-jihadism, narco-insurgency, mafia-state, narco-state and even narco-terror state: many labels have been used in the past decades to describe the interlinkages between international phenomena such as the illicit drugs economy, transnational organized crime, conflict and terrorism. Mexico’s dire situation has been described as a narco-conflict. Colombia’s FARC and Afghanistan’s Taliban have both been depicted as drug cartels in recent years. In Afghanistan, NATO has even been bombing heroin processing laboratories since November 2017 to combat ‘Taliban’s narcotics financing’.
This course on Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime explores the linkages between crime, terrorism and conflict as key global governance challenges in the 21st century. It aims to help students develop a nuanced view about the extent to which such interlinkages are real or political fabrications to promote certain policies. It also explores main trends. What is the effect of globalization? What has been the influence of 9/11, Al Qaeda and Islamic State on this debate? Is it true, as Robert Muggah and John P. Sullivan claimed in a recent Foreign Policy article from September 2018 that future conflicts will mostly be waged by drug cartels, mafia groups, criminal gangs, and terrorist organizations?
The course will relate these issues to the policy positions of states and international institutions. For example, in Afghanistan there has been quite a political push after 2005 by both the United Nations and NATO to increasingly link the Taliban to the illicit opium economy. What has been the effect of such ‘securitization moves’? The course will also discuss the link between the illicit trade of natural resources in relation to conflict. What are the trends when it comes to the role of so-called conflict resources in perpetuating civil wars and other conflicts?