Recent changes in the global economy and in international political alignments have greatly benefited the criminal underworld. There is no question that modern organized crime, adroitly exploiting trends and changes in the global economy is acquiring transnational capabilities and conducting transnational operations. What has been learned about terrorism since the September 11, 2001 events confirms the ability of international criminal networks to operate across borders with relative ease. The enormous wealth generated by organized international crime has also encouraged corruption, money-laundering, and the development of all types of violence, from intimidation to terrorism.
This volume examines the unfolding of transnational organized crime in different parts of the world and analyzes the major elements that will contribute to an understanding of this situation which will become more acute as the events of September 11, 2001 and subsequent ones have amply demonstrated. The problem of organized crime and terrorism must be confronted not only in social and economic contexts, but also from local, regional, cultural, religious, and international points of view. Only then can we begin to evaluate their impact on society.
It is within this framework that the international authors of the different chapters consider the implications of and the possible answers to the following pressing questions: Does international organized crime constitute a threat to the national security of democratic countries? On the international scene, is this the phenomenon that has emerged to replace communism as enemy number one in the Western world and actually worldwide? With the globalization of the economy, has transnational criminal activity now become one of the new methods of accumulating wealth? Is this wealth then used to fund terrorist activities worldwide? Are certain militant factions now using criminal means to destabilize already underprivileged countries and undermine democratic principles in general, while ostensibly claiming to defend certain political or religious-based ideologies? Is the phenomenon of international crime spreading because it has its roots in specific forms of social protest, or because it offers a means of survival for those on the fringes of society, or because different mafias are increasingly penetrating the highest levels of political and economic power?
Does the obvious inefficiency of the methods, policies, and strategies that are being used in the international fight against organized crime stem from a fundamental misunderstanding and incorrect appraisal of the very complexity of such situation?
This volume will contribute to the growing literature on transnational organized crime and terrorism and serve as a valued source of information and analysis for policy formulation at the international level.