TAKEDOWN Empirical Research Report Published
As the body of literature and several research studies indicate, there is a knowledge-gap between the scientific community and first-line-practitioners, law enforcement agencies or security solution developers. In order to be able to develop new tools and solutions for supporting the target-groups in their daily work, a major objective of TAKEDOWN is to examine the needs, requirements and perspectives of these stakeholders in a comprehensive empirical research applying both quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Summing up the Empirical Research
Based on the outcomes of the empirical research that lasted for about one year in total and actually involved all TAKEDOWN-partners, the empirical research report explores the views and experiences of key stakeholders on the issue of organised crime and terrorist networks. The report seeks views on their experience of organised crime counter-terrorism policy and the drivers of both phenomena. It then draws upon the same methods to explore the various pathways of offenders into organised criminality and terror activities before assessing the influence of governments, law enforcement and the military on organised crime and terror networks. Finally, it looks at views on the various measures against organised crime and terror networks and at what challenges they may pose, before outlining solution approached.
The activities of organized crime raising particular concern among our informants were associated with the illegal drug business and with cybercrime. On both, however, there was a sense that information and knowledge remain incomplete. More collaboration between researchers, practitioners, experts and the civil society was advocated as a way forward to remedy this situation. Only in some national contexts was concern also addressed towards the complicities and partnerships between organized crime and the official world.
Opinions about the causes leading people to join organized crime networks converged on prevailing etiologies based around learning processes and environmental circumstances. In brief, cultural background and social context were the core explanatory variables. The responses to organized crime favored by our informants emphasized technical and professional, rather than social, measures. This may reflect the composition of informants, who were preponderantly operating in law enforcement agencies.
The major areas of concern relating to terrorism were identified as propaganda and recruitment. Cultural heritage and social marginalization were seen as the major drivers leading to involvement in terrorist activities. Individual pathology was discarded, while the role of religious leaders was also deemed essential. Strengthening international cooperation was regarded as crucial in the fight against terrorism, as was the involvement of Muslim communities in preventative projects. Educational programs were also advocated, while invasions of countries were seen as being detrimental.
Only a section of our informants believed in the prevalence of hybrids, namely criminal groups combining elements of organized crime and terrorist networks. Skepticism characterized the views of many others, who underlined the difference between the two types of organization and found the very crime-terror nexus ambiguous.