As organized crime plays an increasing role in funding terrorism, research at the University of Kansas aims to pinpoint hotspots in Eurasia where drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism coincide. According to Homeland Security News Wire, the three-year project will also look at the conditions under which terrorist-trafficking alliances are forged and changed and the ability for governments and international organizations to monitor, prevent and dismantle the terrorist and criminal activity.
A better understanding of the connection between trafficking and terrorism in Eurasia improves U.S. national security, Omelicheva said. Ultimately, the project hopes to identify trafficking and terrorism hotspots where the U.S. military can direct assets to disrupt the activity.
The connection between terrorism and organized crime can be a complex one, Omelicheva said. For example, drug dealers and traffickers can be recruited while in prison to be terrorists, creating a hybrid identity.
Deciphering if acts of violence are terrorism or organized crime can be difficult. In some tumultuous areas of Central Asia, bombings or assassinations have been attributed to terrorism when they were actually part of a drug turf war.