Middlemen of the Transnational Crime and Terrorism Nexus

Pile of small arms in Africa
Douglas Farah, co-author of the book “Merchant of Death” and Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) has authored a new report focused on the illicit markets economy where shady middlemen broker deals between criminal groups and hold the potential to create a nexus between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups. Farah’s research exposes a world seemingly pulled from Hollywood script: A black market world where drug traffickers hire terrorist groups for protection, payments made in smuggled weapons, humans, or blood diamonds, and negotiating it all a criminal mastermind dressed in a business suit.

Farah’s report, “Fixers, Super Fixers and Shadow Facilitators: How Networks Connect” focuses on the roles these brokers typically play in various illicit markets. Using examples from Liberia’s first civil war, Hezbollah’s role in the West African diamond trade, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC’s) cocaine trafficking, Farah explains how these brokers play a crucial role in the flow of money and goods, allowing the illicit organizations to focus on their primary concerns and buffering against any potential ideological clash between groups.

As the focus on terrorist financing increasingly points to a nexus of terrorism and organized crime, Farah’s report provides another angle for strategists and analysts in both the law enforcement and national security fields to combat these illegal groups. Social network analysis doctrine has long focused on brokers or boundary spanners, such as those described by Farah, as critical nodes within a network. Farah’s report adds valuable insight to the role these shadowy actors play within the transnational criminal networks.

You may also be interested in reading Farah’s earlier report, “Terrorist-Criminal Pipelines and Criminalized States: Emerging Alliances” and this recent congressional hearing on “Countering Terrorist Financing: Progress and Priorities.”

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/s_4546