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Understanding links between terrorists and organised crime can thwart attacks — Dr Matteo Bonfanti
More research is needed into the rising threat of cyber crime.
by Anita Makri
Investigators should capitalise more on the fact that terrorist cells often work with criminal organisations to achieve their goals, according to Dr Matteo Bonfanti, a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
You are part of the research team at the TAKEDOWN project, which kicked off last year to analyse the science on organised crime and terrorism networks. Can you give an example of how terrorism and organised crime are linked?
‘Recent attacks show that terrorists are also using tools we use in our daily life, like cars or knives. But think about what happened in Paris (France), where these guys were armed with machine guns. Who is going to deliver these arms? Most likely, these arms are brought to Europe thanks to criminal organisations.
‘If you are able to tackle this criminal organisation, and to follow the routes of weapons — and money — you can perhaps contribute to fighting and preventing terrorism. And if you are able to investigate the people connected with these activities, perhaps you also end up finding useful contacts to investigate terrorism. Or, think also about when terrorists do bank robberies to finance their activities. There are links, but it’s not exactly clear what they are.’
What does your research tell us about the impact on people, on social cohesion?
‘We try to see the problem from different perspectives. We will try to understand when measures can be adopted to prevent people from becoming operative terrorists — to act at the early stage of a person getting in touch with people who can have a negative effect on him, so you can have this person step back and reintegrate in the community.
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