1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781466557611
Published April 17, 2013 by CRC Press
351 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

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

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Colonel (Ret.) Jennifer L. Hesterman was commissioned in 1986 as a graduate of Air Force ROTC at Penn State University. During her twenty-one-year career, she served three Pentagon tours and commanded multiple units in the field. Her last assignment was Vice Commander, 316th Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, the home of Air Force One. Her decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters. Colonel Hesterman is a doctoral candidate at Benedictine University and also holds master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Air University. In 2003, she was a National Defense Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, where she immersed herself in a year-long study of the nexus between organized crime and international terrorism. Her resulting book won the 2004 Air Force research prize and was published by AU Press. She is a cleared professional for the MASY Group, a national security and intelligence firm; contributing editor for The Counter Terrorist magazine; and a guest lecturer for federal and state law enforcement agencies.


" ... 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 ... ."
e-International Relations

" ... aimed at North America, but much applies to the UK."
Professional Security Magazine Online

" … the reader’s awareness of this alarming alliance of politically or religiously motivated terrorists and materialistic criminals will undoubtedly be heightened by this work."
—Hugh J. Martin, Retired Police Chief, Wisconsin, in Security Management