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Future gangs will have roots in terrorist organizations

Terrorist organizations that exist today and operate based on a belief system are already on an inexorable path to becoming the new organized crime gangs.



October 12, 2006
By Andrew Wareing

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That is the conclusion of Toronto-based Chris Mathers, a crime and risk
consultant, and author of Crime School: Money Laundering and a speaker
at a recent gathering of the ASIS International Toronto chapter. In his
lively 45-minute presentation, he pointed out that there have been some
very unsuccessful attacks by terrorists including one in Syria against
fortified American military positions. However, while these may be
examples of terrorism at its most ridiculous, there is a real threat to
governments, businesses and the public in general.

He says
professionals in the field of corporate security need to keep
themselves educated on the issues and realities of terrorism and use
their knowledge to raise awareness in their own organizations of the
threats that can rapidly come up to their front door.

“This
isn’t the threat of terrorism, this is the promise of terrorism,” says
Mathers. “It’s going to happen. We’re lucky they were able to interrupt
the last one (June 2 to 3, 2006) but I know for a fact that there are
other organizations out there that are sufficiently motivated and
singular of purpose to lay a device in public. It’s not about being
American or not, they want us dead because we’re not them.

“The
main tenant of my book is that organized crime and terrorism are two
horns of the same goat,” he says. “Organized crime usually gets its
start by pursuing an ideology. The problem is that you need to do
crimes in order to afford your activity like selling drugs, money
laundering, extortion, and others.

“As organized crime develops,
it loses touch with its ideology and moves toward the goals of wealth
and power,” he says, citing what is now commonly recognized as the
Mafia, for example, may have started with Italian resistance to
invaders, which some say started as an acronym from an Italian phrase
that meant “death to the French” but might have other sources. Other
terrorist organizations have also used criminal means to fund their
activities.

Mathers says, with organizations like Al Qaeda and
Hamas, “we’re seeing the first infant steps of Islamic organized crime.
With Al Qaeda, it’s the same thing with links to narcotics, kidnapping,
extortion and war taxing and human smuggling. You need to be able to
pay the bills when terrorists operate.”

And this is a problem
for Canada because the country looks like an attractive location to
open up operations, Mathers says, in part because of Canada’s relaxed
approaches to immigration and criminal prosecution and because it is
adjacent to both one of the largest markets and the largest target in
the world — the United States.

He says the public can’t see all
the activities that are underway to deal with the threat of terrorism
in the intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies but there is
a lot going on, in part to prevent public backlash against Canadian
Muslims, not involved with terrorism but who could be tarred with the
same brush.

Mathers says many companies that send people abroad are aware of the threats that are out there and are taking precautions.

“Most
of the clients I have are pretty hip to it. They don’t put their people
in harm’s way. They have ransom insurance and they make sure they give
their people good in-country briefings,” he says. “And if it doesn’t
make sense to do business there, then they’re not going to do the
business there.”


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