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Terrorism and organized crime is a highly prevalent issue in the US today due to sustained threats over the last decade regarding the September 11 bombing in the country and other terrorist activities and threats in many parts of the world. The American Government continues to increase its efforts to protect the people of America from such incidences. It is in such determinations that institutions such as the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force was formed to further understand the composition, organization, and many other elements of terrorisms and organized crime for better combating of the same. This paper, therefore, will address the formation structures, targets and tactics, and threat capabilities, as well as the center of gravity of terrorist and organized crime organizations to inform policy formulation against these organizations.
Targets and Tactics
Tactics and targets used by most terrorist and organized crime organizations in the US vary as they become more complicated for their analysis and counteraction. The most common tactics used include hijackings, kidnapping, bombing, assassination, armed assault, and incidents of barricading hostages. Each of these tactics is used differentially depending on the situation of the attack and the objective of the attack (Alda & Sala, 2014). When a terrorist group or organized crime organization wants to force the targeted government into negotiations and does not necessarily want to harm the targeted groups, it is most likely to use the methods of kidnapping, hijacking, or barricade hostages. On the other hand, the organization can use the tactics of bombing, assassination, or armed assault when they wish to create a general feeling and climate of fear among its targeted group, retaliate a previous situation or incident, eliminate specific persons, or to negatively affects a process that contravenes the terrorist group's interests.
Terrorist and organized crime organizations follow specific organizational structures that best suit their interests. A general structure of terrorist and organized crime groups includes a central leader at the central level of the organization. This is the overall leader of the organization and issues commands to all the operations of the organization (Rollins & Wyler, 2013). The central leader is then followed by cadres at the middle level. At the lower levels are recruits who engage in continuous acts of training and indoctrination. These are the ones mostly used in carrying out the organization's mission while the central and mid-level cadre leaders do most of the planning of these missions. Another significant element in the structure of these organizations is that most of them have two wings of operation. One is the political wing that is more overt in its dealings. This is the wing that makes the voice of the organization heard through public relations, gains political and resource access, and is even registered as a nonprofit organization. The other is the military wing, which is a more secretive and covert wing that carries out the organization's terrorist acts. Finally, terrorist groups use cellular structures in their organization. A cell comprises between three to ten people and is a basic component of function in the organization.
Reporting and Communication Strategies
Terrorist and organized crime organizations have reporting structures and communication strategies that are unique to their structure and objectives. The first level of communication occurs within a cell. Referred to as the Lone Wolf Communication, members of the cell remain only in communication among themselves and act independently of the central organization of the group. This way, the organization maximizes its security as communication within the organization is almost non-existent and thus can be hardly intercepted by law enforcement offices. These groups also use blind communication, especially when information needs to be relayed between cells (Alda, & Sala, 2014). Blind communication means that members of one cell receive information from the central organization or other cells without necessarily knowing the identity of the communicator. They can receive letters on a post without a return address to keep the identity of the larger network obscure for the safety of the organization. Finally, these organizations use Steganography as a way of disguising information. Using this strategy, communicators within the terrorist group will hide an image within a message or another image to make it difficult to interpret the information.
Terrorist and organized crime organizations in the US pose a significant threat to the country. Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS have managed to carry out terrorist activities in the country before and the threat is still high. Organized crime organizations, on the other hand, like traffickers of narcotics and criminal gangs, remain a major threat in the country. Prisons continue to swell with perpetrators from these groups. Combined, terrorist and organized crime organizations are a nightmare and constant worry both to the citizens and government of the US because of the magnitude of the threat that they pose.
Center of Gravity
Terrorist organizations are basically based on ideologies and these ideologies are propagated by their central leadership. The central leadership is strong and enjoys immense support from the group's members. It is virtually a god of the organization, and hence, is the organization's center of gravity that if disabled, the organization becomes ineffective. A perfect example of this was Osama Bin Laden of Al Qaeda (Rollins & Wyler, 2013). The once strong and highly influential terrorist organization was crippled after the death of its leader and many years after his death, it is yet to regain its previous strength. Organized crime organizations, on the other hand, rely critically on their supply chain. Mostly narcotics organizations, the lifeline of these organizations is their supply chain through which they are able to get their hands on narcotics. Destroying the supply chain renders them ineffective and would eventually drive them out of operations and this has been the agenda of the US to destroy the supply line of drugs from Mexico and Columbia among other countries in South America.
The US remains a hotspot target for various terrorist and organized crime organizations. This is partly due to differences in opinions for terrorist groups and a sound economy for narcotics' dealers. These organizations have been largely successful in maintaining a healthy level of threat to the US due to the continued sophistication of their methods. This has thrown so much weight on law enforcement departments and policy formulators in the country in order to keep up with these threats. To achieve this, there is need to understand trends that cut across terrorist and organized crime organizations.
Alda, E., & Sala, J. (2014). Links between terrorism, organized crime and crime: The case of the sahel region. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 3(1), 1-9. Retrieved from https://www.stabilityjournal.org/articles/10.5334/sta.ea/
Rollins, J., & Wyler, L. S. (2013). Terrorism and transnational crime: Foreign policy issues for Congress (Vol. 1). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/20130611_R41004_91aec4806badbec499f707178ae6968b193790e3.pdf
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