"Insurgent and terror groups operating in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan are deepening their involvement in organized crime, an aspect of the conflict that at once presents enormous challenges and also potential opportunities for Coalition forces trying to implement a population‐centric counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy. Within a realm of poor governance and widespread state corruption, anti‐state actors engage in and protect organized crime--mainly smuggling, extortion and kidnapping--both to raise funds and also to spread fear and insecurity, thus slowing the pace of development and frustrating attempts to extend the rule of law and establish a sustainable licit economy. Militant groups on either side of the frontier function like a broad network of criminal gangs, not just in terms of the activities in which they engage, but also in the way they are organized, how funds flow through their command chains and how they interact--and sometimes fight--with each other. There is no doubt that militant groups have capitalized on certain public grievances, yet their ties to criminal profiteering, along with the growing number of civilian casualties they cause on both sides of the frontier, have simultaneously contributed to a widening sense of anger and frustration among local communities. Through a series of focused and short anecdotal case studies, this paper aims to map out how key groups engage in criminal activity in strategic areas, track how involvement in illicit activity is deepening or changing and illustrate how insurgent and terror groups impose themselves on local communities as they spread to new territory. It is hoped that a closer examination of this phenomenon will reveal opportunities for disrupting the problem, as well as illustrate how Coalition forces, the international community and moderate Muslim leaders might capitalize on an untapped public relations opportunity by better protecting local communities who are the main victims of it."
Combating Terrorism Center at West Point: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/