Organized Crime As Security Threats Criminology Essay

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The UK's most reckonable alliance is its exceptional relationship with the US (Wilkinson, 2007: pp.37). Her close allies include EU and NATO members, Japan and most Commonwealth member countries. The global presence of Britain and the added influence she commands is further strengthened through her trade relations, armed forces and assistance in development which maintain a high of approximately 80 military installations and alternative deployments around the world. The Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force are known collectively to be the British Armed Forces or officially as HM Armed Forces (Kapteyn, 1983: pp.27) .

With the most technologically advanced and trained armed forces, she has about the fourth highest expenditure in military services in the world despite being ranked 25th in terms of manpower. Expenditure in defense accounts for a reasonable portion of the sum total of the national GDP. The UK also maintains the biggest air force and Navy in the entire EU and is placed second largest in NATO (Smith, 1996: pp. 245). The Royal navy is said to be one of a few blue-water-navies together with the French and the US Navies. Britain's Defense Ministry is said to have signed £3.2 billion worth contacts to ensure the construction of new super carrier size aircraft carriers in 2008 (Smith, 1996: pp.274). UK is among five countries recognized for having nuclear weapons which utilize the Vanguard class, a submarine base Trident II which is a ballistic missile system. The Armed Forces of Britain are charged with ensuring protection to the United Kingdom and its territories overseas to keep off terrorists (Bryden, Caparini & Marenin, pp.266). This has led to a promotion of global security interests of the UK and also maintaining international efforts of peace keeping (Smith, 1996: pp. 87).

UK is also an active member and regular participant in NATO which includes the "Allied Rapid Reaction Corps" and the "The Five Power Defense Arrangements" and other coalition operations in the world. The UK maintains facilities overseas like Brunei, Ascension Island, Belize, Canada, Germany, Kenya, Cyprus, Qatar, Falkland Island and Diego Garcia. These units not only ensure a good relationship with its allies overseas but also manage immediate response to terrorism, calamities and monitoring of activities to secure the UK.

Organized Crime and Terrorism in the UK

The threat level system was created by the UK to keep British citizens informed of the level of threat the UK faces as a result of terrorism at one point in time (US General Accounting Office, 2004: pp.8). This helps police and other law enforcing bodies to make decisions on staff allocation. The level of threat is a representation of the likelihood of an attack taking place in the near future. They do this by taking considering the fact that some attacks take long to plan while others seem to be planned within a short time. The levels of threat are categorized under "critical, severe, substantial, moderate and low" based on the likelihood and strength of the attack. The security Service, otherwise known as MI5 and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center (JTAC), work hand in hand to determine UK's threat levels (Wilkinson, 2007: pp. 192).

In January 23rd 2010, Hertling & Donaldson reported that the UK's international terrorist level had risen to "severe". Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary had reported the previous day that the increase of the level meant that there was a strong possibility that an attack would occur in the future and that a continuing high level of threat in the UK is visible (2010: para.1). Around the same time, the M15 was reported to speculate that this was an indication of the likelihood of the UK falling victim of terrorist attacks. According to Hertling and Donaldson, the heightened alerts have led to the government's suspension of direct flights to and from Yemen (Hertling & Donaldson 2010, para. 3).

Hertling & Donaldson also report of India's alert to her airports and national airlines on the 22nd of January after reports by intelligence claimed that hijackers may try to takeover a plane flying into South Asia. The Civil Aviation Ministry of India ordered additional searches to passengers before they were allowed to board the plane while at the same time the inclusion of sky marshals was seen necessary (2010: para. 5). According to Hertling & Donaldson, Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda were behind a plot on the 25th December to blow up a Northwest Airline plane by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on its approach to Detroit (2010: para 6).

Later, a declaration was made that the overall level of threat of the US had risen to "yellow," a third of five levels of threat alerts, which indicated that the US is at a significant risk of attack (US General Accounting Office, 2004: pp.21). The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on January 20th that security had stepped up following attempts of attack on Christmas day which included a "no-fly-list" that listed terrorism suspects and another list of individuals who would be subject to added security screening before boarding flights that were headed to Britain. The intelligence agencies in the nation focused on investigating individuals before they reached the country (Hertling & Donaldson, 2010: para. 10). The move by Britain to constantly monitor the possibility of threat and another one of coming up with a highly technologically equipped and trained defense force is an indication of the amount of threat terrorism poses to the UK and reflected to other countries alike.

Organized crime in the UK has with time been contained by the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) which is a non-executive departmental unit that is sponsored by the Home Office despite its operations being independent (White & Cobain, 2006: para.4). The new nationwide force is reported to be enforced by the police department in the UK which is claimed to be in a better position to prevent the prevalence of international drug traffickers who end up settling in the UK. White and Cobain report that Charles Clarke, the Home secretary, claimed that SOCA which was dubbed the FBI of Britain had confidence in the team to take out notorious gangs in the UK that ended up settling in the UK as a result of bribing customs and excise officials and also causing damage to the community, adding up to approximately 40 billion pounds (White & Cobain, 2006: para. 3).

White and Cobain further report of the Baybasin gang which is a Turkish cartel that is alleged to control up to 90% of the total heroin imports into the UK (2006: para. 2). The gang is said to have settled in Edgeware, Middlesex around the mid 90's after their gang leader told investigators in the customs department that he knew of the involvements of some senior Turkish politicians in the undertakings of the drug trade (2006: para.2). In the world today, organized crime has its links to past organized criminal activities. This is an indication that organized crime is a social trend that is necessitated by societies need to make money and generate powerful social rings that dictate the flow of activities within a certain society. Louis J. Freeh is an example of a director of organized crime in New York's southern district in the 80's. Later, he became the lead prosecutor of the pizza connection case. Sterling's book, Octopus, has appreciated extensively Louis J. Freeh contribution to the case. His appointment as an FBI agent in 1993 was followed by his need to coordinate international law enforcement in the battle against organized crime. Third world and developed countries continue to face the problems that arise from organized criminal activities that bring about terror in the communities. Advanced societies such as the sophisticated British civilization with its state of the art defense bodies continue to suffer under the hand of organized crime.

Apart from the creation of security bodies that offer counter terrorism protection to the societies, different communities craft different methods of dealing with terror and organized crime. The set up of SOCA and the FBI is an example of counter terrorism approaches in the UK and the US respectively. The added commitment of police forces to curb the problem of organized crime and terrorism has been used in other democracies with the inclusion of other special units that handle terrorism. Italy has increased pressure on the famous mafia system of social ills. At the same time, European borders continue to loosen. This way, mafia groups find their way to other countries that they can continue with their illegal activities. France has displayed an increasing number of pizzerias that are run by Italians who use them as money laundering and smuggling premises. Gangs in France are reported to look into, golf courses, casinos, restaurants and other premium properties of real estate (Sullivan, 2002: pp.45).

International Terrorism and Organized Crime: A Comparison

Conceptually, international organized crime and terrorism are viewed as separate units. Organized crime is perceived as being motivated by economic gain while transnational terrorism is seen as being in pursuit of ideological or political models. In this sense, organized crime is a business and is at creating attention to their enterprises so that they can survive the hand of the law. The main goal of terrorism is to create a wide range of public profiles (Standing Group Organized Crime, 2007: pp. 3). The UN Security Council however noted the similarity between international terrorism and international organized crime, money laundering, illegal drugs and firearms and the movement of deadly weapons and materials like nuclear components. In addition, terrorists and perpetrators of organized crime use similar means of achieving their goals which cause terror, pain and at times deaths to their victims. After 9/11, many people raised concerns about organized crime and terrorism posing a serious threat to the well being of human beings. It is evident that both organizations also conduct their operations unlawfully using extreme violence, reprisals, kidnappings, threats, extortion, assassinations and their operations are done in secret in order to run away from the law (Standing Group Organized Crime, 2007: pp. 6).

The existence of terrorist groups also relies on the fragile balance between the environment within the organization as well as the external environment. An empirical evidence of the collapse of the organizations owing to changes in the external organization is inevitably demonstrated. The internal organization environment that deals with leadership and other activities within the organization are bound to face changes that favor existence of organizations (Standing Group Organized Crime, 2007: pp. 6).


The line between organized crime and terrorism is often made unclear by the different reasons behind the practices and their resulting effects. In this perspective, it would be enlightening to deduce that the two are separated by legal content in such a way that terrorists face different legal sanctions from perpetrators of organized crime. The effects of the actions of terror and organized crime lead to death, oppression and people living in fear.