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Exploring The Link Between White Collar Crime And Terrorism – OpEd


The declaration is a bit obscure when it comes to finding a link between white collar crime (WCC) and terrorism. However, the need to define initially both the criminal activities arises and then the extension of links or wings can easily determine the connection between the two. The aim behind the subject is to discover the manipulation or maybe the utilization of the peaceful environment in the most violent way to achieve targets of objectives so huge that can easily fit in the definition of fourth generation warfare.

WCC can be defined as crimes that are non-violent in nature and usually involve some form of deception, or fraud, to achieve financial gain. These crimes include, but are not limited to, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, identity theft, money laundering, immigration fraud, and tax evasion etc. in short, it’s the type of crime that is peaceful in nature and would include no more violence than perhaps hard talks or harsh debate.

The criminals in WCC are mostly the business community, politicians, high scale government personnel and large organizations that would try to achieve financial superiority using the above-mentioned methods or any other method that would include secrecy and invisibility.

Terrorism on the other hand is the committing of actual violence. It’s the form of most visible crime in present day scenario. It would be correct to state that one of the aims of terrorism is violence loud and clear enough to dispense a threat or terror in surroundings to spread fear in general public. It includes public killings, open area firings and bomb blasts, etc. The intensity of terrorism if increased will eventually signify or compete with war scenarios as has been witnessed by the world in recent past.

To find a link between the two apparently different categories of crime can be actually easy if we consider the fact terrorist activity requires huge financial support. Terrorism is a fairly complex crime. It needs masterminds to plan, trained human resources to execute, an effective network of communication and an executive command and control for any activity to achieve desired impact. This all means that a huge amount of finances are required to make a plan, train the human resources, coordinate and communicate, furnish the activity from field level till the office and to establish command centre. It would requires the acquiring of land, establishing secrecy from anti-terrorism organizations and routing the finances through some channels that would go unnoticed in a perfect scenario.

This is where the WCC kicks in. The domain of snatching money in a nonviolent and secret way is actually WCC. It is easy for any terrorist organization to develop a shell company or organisation that would secretly work as finance department of the terrorist organization. Although WCC is not the only financial source of terrorism as street crimes like public snatching and kidnapping for ransom also play a role in supporting  terrorist activity, but the huge amount of financial required is fulfilled using multiple resource in which WCC plays an important role.

The practical evidence of such a system in work was found in 1990’s when Colorado police discovered the criminal activities and hidden operations of Jamaat ul furqa. The organisation had used WCC as main financial source for all the activities. The complete details of the case study are available for public on following link.

There are very rare cases also available where WCC used terrorism as a shield to hide the financial corruption, but that defies the very definition of WCC and hence will not be considered under the present topic. If an anti-terrorist organization initiates and operation against ant terrorist group or organization cutting the supply lines/finance is always a good start. This is where the former would need to divert its attention towards WCC and find out links. This would serve the dual purpose of cutting the supplies and reaching the foci of any terrorist organisation.

WCC is a financial terrorism that has a negative impact on the economy of a country by declining the financial and social condition of the masses thus forcing them to participate in unethical activities e.g. selling their children for meals, looting the people, kidnapping for ransom, some people join the underworld organisation knowingly that they may be committing suicide. This may be a smaller form of terrorism which can be handled by the administration very easily through an effective police force (non-politicized) as these terrorists are within the state, but the real terrorism is the one which is operative from across the borders, state against the state, and the state against their own people, of which examples are very clear in Kashmir, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and long outstanding dispute of Palestine. This is the real terrorism that requires an amicable solution and as this terrorism is between the states so obviously it is to be decided at a forum like the UN.

It is very disappointing that so far the UN has been unable to define ‘’Terrorism’’ because every member state has its own version of terrorism. Moreover, governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed upon and legally binding definition. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged.

To conclude, it is suggested that WCC culprits be apprehended and be dealt with an iron fist. Every state should strongly stress to the UN and all other international forums to formulate laws against terrorism so as to make this world a living heaven.

*Sadia Basharat, National Defence University Islamabad.

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