Terrorism as Organized Crime

“Terrorist Networks Are Organized + Terrorism Is a Crime = Terrorism Is Organized Crime”

That’s the formula that Blue Planet: Informal International Police Networks and National Intelligence presents to the reader, and author Michael D. Bayer makes a good case for it. Bayer, a former chief of the Department of State’s transnational criminal investigative office, takes the view that police around the world are better positioned to know what’s going on in their local areas, no matter how remote they seem from the wider world. Through informal contacts with colleagues in their own countries and abroad, they can gather and disseminate vital intelligence to detect and suppress “worldwide manifestations of destabilizing violence, often indiscriminately labeled ‘terrorism.’”

I found Blue Planet to be an intriguing read for a number of reasons. It presents a reasonable and clearly written case for greater involvement of the police in fighting terrorism, argues forcefully against the post-9/11 militarization of U.S. anti-terrorism effort, and cites a number of fascinating case studies of how informal international police networks, even including such relatively closed societies as Cuba and China, have worked effectively to apprehend criminals. (Some of these stories could be the basis for your next suspense novel!)

Blue Planet also makes the interesting point that both international criminal operations and terrorist networks often use the same illegal methods (smuggling, money laundering, drug trafficking), and who better to learn about those links than those already tracking organized crime?  According to a recent RAND report cited in the book, “For terrorist groups that cannot or will not abandon terrorism, policing is likely to be the most effective strategy to destroy terrorist groups. The logic is straightforward: Police generally have better training and intelligence to penetrate and disrupt terrorist organizations. They are the primary arm of the government focused on internal security matters.”

Blue Planet is not just another policy report. It’s an insightful and intellectually stimulating book that also includes some terrific true crime stories. You can read it here on the National Defense Intelligence College Web site or track down your own copy here.

4 Responses to Terrorism as Organized Crime

  1. chadams says:

    The problem is terrorism specifically targets the civilian population. We then give up more of our liberties to feel safe even though it probably didnt help as much as we think. This country managed to defeat a King and his army just because most owned weapons. We need to get back to taking care of ourselves and not letting terrorists or criminals control our lives. Stop fighting a ground war bring our troops home. We have long range bombers that can be sent out on a daily basis and drop bombs from the U.S. I say we just start sending them and blowing stuff up. That is what our military is for, go in destroy and come home. Then we just let those bombers remind them a couple of times a week who they are dealing with. Each person should buy a weapon and learn to use it so if some terrorist or criminal tries to harm them they will be prepared to deal with it. Anyway that is my two cents.


  2. Virtually all acts of terrorism can be interpreted as being motivated by the desire for wealth and power. The means used by terrorists to obtain these ends are universally regarded as criminal acts.

    The failure of the United States prior to 911 was due to fact that public policy was not based upon the principles of risk/threat management. Had public policy been based upon such a process, I believe 911 would not have take place and the United States would not now be engaged in two wars.

    After 911 the public did not learn that attacks of 911 were as much due to the incompetence of US policy makers as it was due to the fact that many people around the world hate the United States, because of the role it plays in the domestic policy of other nations.

    Instead, an individual employed by the US government sent letters filled with anthrax to news anchors and US politicians who opposed the Patriot Act.

    This act was used to inflame fear in the public mind and to gain support for a war against an enemy which the public was wrongly told posed a immanent threat to the people of the United States.

    During the course of that war more people around the world came to hate the United States because of the role it plays in the domestic policy of other nations.

    Because the United States has not developed a domestic or international policy based upon the principles of risk/threat management, most of the money it has invested in mitigating threat has been wasted or worse has created new threats.

    We live in a universe filled with threats of all kinds. The use of the principles of risk/threat management to understand those threats and to appropriate money to mitigate risk still needs to be implemented in the United States. Had it been prior to 911, to Hurricane Katrina, to the Mortgage Crisis, and thousand other failures of US policy, the people of United States would be prospering.


  3. zannias vasilis says:



  4. alejandro gomez says:

    Desearia saber si en “the blue planet”; se hace mencion a lo que opina el ciudadano comun y de que manera influye esto en las estrategias contra el terrorismo.


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