Fostering awareness on nexus between corruption and terrorism

ASEAN calls for research to enhance knowledge on the nexus between corruption and terrorism

Posted on 30 March 2018

The battle of Marawi (Philippines) between the Government and Islamist Militants, May 2017

Against the background of recent terror attacks in the region and returning terrorist fighters from Syria and Iraq, the Defense Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China called for greater cooperation to counter terrorism defining it as the most serious security threat to the region. Anectodical evidence indicates that corruption is an enabling factor for terrorists' operations, for example in 2016 in Sabah (Malaysia), investigations led to the sacking, suspensions and transfers of 100 immigration personnel - for facilitating the travel of ISIS members to the Philippines.

But despite this increasing evidence of the nexus between corruption and terrorism, analysis on the phenomenon is still scarce; to address this gap, UNODC, jointly with the Embassy of Canada in Indonesia, organized a roundtable in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a view to map existing initiatives and plan the way forward in terms of analysis and data gathering, looking in particular at law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Representatives from the Government, civil society, Embassies and International Organizations participated in the event.

Participants agreed that there is enough evidence to the fact that corruption of public border officials enables terrorists to travel clandestinely and gain access to targets or smuggle weapons. It was highlighted that obtaining false documentation usually entails corruption of border officials who remain very vulnerable. Movement of funds across border to finance terrorist activities was identified as a special challenge, to be addressed through coordinated efforts among Financial Intelligence Units, Anti-Corruption Agencies, Special Police Departments and financial institutions. UNODC is currently developing a set of activities to address these issues.