The nexus between terrorism and transnational organized crime in Eastern Africa

25 May 2016  - Vienna: Although neither a new phenomenon nor a generally established or homogeneous trend, a convergence between terrorism and transnational organized crime in various ways - including in the Eastern Africa region - requires a common and transnational response. This was the conclusion of the panel at a high-level side event jointly organized by the UNODC Regional Office for Eastern African (ROEA) and the Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) at last week's Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). The side event on 25 May focused on the complexity and various linkages, but also a strategy and regional programme activities to negate the convergence between terrorism and transnational organized crime in Eastern Africa. The distinguished panel included the Attorney-General of Kenya, Hon.Prof. Githu Muigai; the Director of Counter-Terrorism for Interpol, Mr. Pierre St-Hilaire; and UNODC 's own Chief of the Terrorism Prevention Branch, Mr. Trevor Rajah, and the Head of the Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism Prevention pillars for the UNODC Regional Office in Eastern Africa, Mr. Johan Kruger.

The side event provided a platform to identify threats, trends, and how to tackle TOC, the growing nexus between terrorism and TOC, and to propose solutions to combat root causes and mitigate consequences.

Mr. St-Hilaire (Interpol) provided examples of areas where information-sharing, a key element needed in this area, breaks down, including maritime crimes such as drug trafficking and piracy, where overly-classified or silo-ed data related to drug samples collected by international military forces mandated to stop piracy are virtually unreachable to local police.  While seize-and-dump tactics for drugs in the Indian Ocean result in preventing much of the drug product from reaching the shores of Eastern Africa, neither the networks, nor their financing or their ultimate destination, can be identified. Another key area requiring additional coordination and collaboration to de-link terrorism and transnational organized crime is the financial aspect: it is still difficult to connect the discoveries of the myriad agencies involved with following the money associated with such crimes. Countries and international organizations both struggle to find relevant information and to bridge the gap between the 'need to know' and 'need to share' cultures related to information and intelligence exchange.

The Attorney- General of Kenya reiterated the challenges encountered by national agencies when they need to work together on topics such as wildlife or piracy crimes, and consequently to research connections to other crimes and criminal networks. Nevertheless, he detailed the positive example of Uganda, which has managed to create a task team of multiple national agencies that work together at the country's entry points to cross-reference goods and people traffic, and explained the importance of both domestic and cross-border coordination and cooperation as the essential basis to combat trans-organized crime and its linkage to terrorism.

To conclude this candid and enriching exchange of views, all participants called for an ever-stronger collaboration between countries and agencies as the only way to tackle the growing nexus between terrorism and trans-organized crime. 



Johan Kruger (Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programme)

Tel: + 254 207621058; Email: