Debunking the smuggler-terrorist nexus : human smuggling and the Islamic state in the middle east
Studies in conflict & terrorism, 2019, OnlineFirst
ACHILLI, Luigi, TINTI, Alessandro, Debunking the smuggler-terrorist nexus : human smuggling and the Islamic state in the middle east, Studies in conflict & terrorism, 2019, OnlineFirst - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/65990
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Amid increasing terrorist violence in and beyond European countries, concerns have been raised about connections between illegal migration and terrorism. Regional armed conflicts in the Middle East have led to the massive migration of people in search of safe heavens and better livelihoods, pressing upon frontline countries in the Mediterranean and throughout the EU. Multiple government and intelligence agencies report that human smuggling networks have been identified as providing a readily available conduit through which terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaida can enter Europe and the U.S. These criminal travel networks are said to rely on highly effective transnational alliances involving service providers within source, transit and destination countries. There is also widespread consensus in the intelligence circles that terrorist groups rely on the practice of smuggling for financing of terrorist activity. Nonetheless, despite the region's geopolitical significance and its demonstrated potential for spillover effects, scant systematic field research has been conducted by independent researchers to understand the purported nexus between terrorism and human smugglers within the Middle East into the Mediterranean. This constitutes a severe gap in knowledge which our study will address. In this paper, we debunk the nexus human smuggling-terrorism by comparing the Islamic State's logistics with human smuggling networks' modus operandi and organizational structures. Based on a mixed research approach that combines the analysis of a unique date-set (U.S. Special Forces) and an empirical research carried out among smugglers and migrants in the Middle East and across the Eastern Mediterranean route over the past two years, this paper will tackle the alleged connection between human smuggling and terrorist groups. What will be argued is that smuggling networks and terrorist networks have fundamental operational and structural differences. These operational and structural differences need to be taken into account in order to deconstruct harmful stereotypes on irregular migration and, consequently, develop adequate responses to analytically distinct phenomena.
First published online: 28 October 2019
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/65990
Full-text via DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2019.1678884
ISSN: 1057-610X; 1521-0731
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc
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