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Crime and Terrorism
by Colonel Robert Killebrew
The U.S. has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan now for eight years, and a great deal of our best thinking and most focused military development has quite rightly gone into fighting those two conflicts. We have built an effective counterinsurgency doctrine, we have re-equipped and re-re-equipped our forces, and we have perforce built huge bases of experience in dealing with Islamic insurgent and terror organizations. This is as it should be -- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' admonition to "win the war you're in" is right on target.
In those eight years, though, as we have focused on the wars we're in, there have been some profound changes in the structure of global terrorism, particularly with regard to the relationship between terrorist movements and international crime. According to a panel of experts at a recent conference sponsored by the Center for a New American Security, terrorism and crime have now merged, to such an extent that all terrorist movements -- all of them -- have become partly criminal organizations to fund their operations, expand their reach -- and incidentally make the people on top extremely rich, while lower-level zealots continue to be recruited for suicide missions.
Robert B. Killebrew is a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Killebrew is a retired Army colonel who served 30 years in a variety of assignments that included Special Forces, tours in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, XVIII Airborne Corps, high-level war planning assignments and instructor duty at the Army War College.