Vienna, 10 July 2017 – Terrorism, and its links to drugs and crime, is recognized, including by the UN Security Council, as a threat to global peace, security and development.
It is also widely acknowledged that terrorists and extremists require funding for their heinous acts, and criminal activity is often a major source for such funding.
Although information is fragmented, our analysis reveals a number of terrorist groups prospering from their involvement with criminal activities.
In Afghanistan, UNODC estimates that the Taliban last year raised a minimum of 150 million USD, around 50 per cent of their total income, from taxes and direct involvement in the illicit opiate trade.
Boko Haram has helped smuggle heroin and cocaine, as well as trafficked people and natural resources across West Africa. Further north, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is thought to be involved in cannabis and cocaine trafficking.
Profit-driven links exist in East Africa between Al-Shabaab and Somali pirates, and the terrorist group is also thought to be widely implicated in the charcoal smuggling trade.
ISIL is involved in brutal kidnappings for ransoms, cultural property trafficking, as well as the illegal trade in oil.
Further research is needed in all these cases, but they illustrate the cooperation that exists between terrorism and crime.