Globsec’s “From criminals to terrorists and back”

gio globsec

Project presentation

The most well-known ISIS terrorist atrocities in Europe, including the 2015 Paris and 2016 Brussels attacks, saw individuals who in the past had been involved in organized crime and illegal trade graduate into the ranks of the world’s most successful terrorist organisation. It is now widely assumed that Europe’s terrorists are no longer radicals first and foremost but criminals who turned to political violence at some stage throughout their ordinary crime careers. Thus a threat emanating from the “crime-terror nexus” hangs over Europe.

The Italian report

The fourth quarterly report of the From Criminals to Terrorists and Back? project is focused on the case of Italy. Authors, Giovanni Giacalone and Nicolo Spagna preliminarily reveal that only 2 out of the 14 examined cases have a proven criminal past, with most profiles yet to be examined.

Interestingly, a clear-cut division surfaces: propagandist figures and action figures. The first includes all individuals involved in the dissemination of extremist material for propaganda and indoctrination. The second category includes all individuals with the will to act, either by perpetrating terrorist attacks, joining jihad abroad, or facilitating volunteers for warzones on top of performing propagandistic actions.

“So far, we have not identified a pronounced crime-terror nexus link in Italy. However, 2015 saw the quick conversion and radicalisation of an ethnically Italian family, performing this process in connection with another, Albanian family. Such cases clearly emphasize the importance of the family/clan connection, also in relation to the links with jihadi/criminal organisations in Albania, the country of origin of the latter family.”