A new report from the Crime Terror Nexus project which has as its aim documenting links between crime and terrorism across the EU; and is a project of Panta Rhei Research Ltd. It is funded by PMI IMPACT, a global grant initiative of Philip Morris International that supports projects against illegal trade. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of links between crime and terrorism (the crime-terror nexus) in the UK and Ireland, highlight potential risks, and make a series of recommendations for how such risks can be mitigated. It concludes that it seems clear that organised crime in Britain and Ireland has become a multi-faceted, entrenched and dynamic phenomenon, and that the threat from terrorism – be it jihadist, far-right, or Northern Ireland related – will preoccupy security agencies in both countries for years to come. It says that, though illicit activities are notoriously difficult to measure, it says it has found evidence for links between crime and terrorism in 3 areas:
- Among paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, which have been deeply involved in organised crime in Northern Ireland and across the border;
- In British prisons where criminal and terrorist milieus have connected and cross-fertilised; and
- Among British jihadists whose criminal skills may be used for terrorist purposes.
Recommendations include action on prisons, terrorist financing, better data collection, information sharing and collaboration between security agencies as well as between government and non-government actors. But, in the light of Brexit, the most urgent area of action is with regards to Northern Ireland, and the “harder” the border, the greater the pay-offs for organised crime.