Abstract: The attack of September 11, 2001 has changed the approach to the concepts of terrorism and organized crime. Terrorism and organized crime are daily threats to international security and, therefore, it was seriously necessary to study the links between these two phenomena. By their nature, especially the objectives sought and the effects generated in society, activities in the field of organized crime and terrorism are placed, obviously, among offenses.

Keywords: terrorism, the phenomenon of cross-border crime, criminal network, fight against organized crime, border police, international police cooperation.

A definition of organized crime was formulated  and  presented  at  the  UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,   adopted   on   November   15,   2000, ratified by Romania by Law no. 565/2002, as follows: organized crime stands for the activities of any group of at least three people who allow those in power to enrich or control territories or domestic or foreign markets by using violence, intimidation, corruption, seeking either to pursue criminal activity or to infiltrate the legal economy.

Criminality evolves and its trends are influenced by changes affecting societies, both in   time   and   space.   This   is   a   logical consequence because criminality is an inevitable byproduct of any society. To find the  causes  of  increasing  international  crime rate is therefore necessary to consider the changes that have occurred worldwide over the last decades, especially in Europe. We might mention, as an example, demographic imbalance,       economic       and       monetary uncertainty, distortions of rich and poor nations.


Organized crime and terrorism have been  considered  completely  distinct phenomena before the day of September 11, 2001, known as America’s Black Tuesday. Committees of security studies, military and law enforcement structures approached topics of   terrorism   and   organized   crime   at   the strategic level. But often, these issues were addressed separately. In many debates, the growing threat of terrorism and transnational crime has been emphasized, but rarely have the  links  between  them  been  highlighted. Closer analysis of the main elements did not regard the essence, as the purpose, forms, distinctions, but also complementary aspects that are  highlighted  for  better  understanding and, especially, for a more efficient counteraction.

Common issues, in phenomenology, of crime and terrorism derive mainly from their common  general  characteristics:  subversion, dissimulation and transnational character. Differences between the two phenomena, as they occur in society, are observed in origin, motivational essence and purpose of their representatives.

The main difference between terrorism and  organized  crime  comes  from  the difference between weakness and / or convictions  (given  mainly  by  human  nature and culture) around which ideologies or de facto behavior of each of the two phenomena representatives emerge. The common features, but   also   differences   and   complementary aspects  related  to  terrorism  and  organized crime may be, however, more easily identified and evaluated, in terms of the main parameters that characterize their full manifestation in society and its normal status.

Complementary aspects of the two phenomena are, in particular, in the field of circumscribed activities of their common membership  in  the  category  of  offenses  / crimes against local and / or international legal standards. Regarding the origin and motivation of organized crime the prevalent desire is to achieve a material – financial win at any cost. On  the  other  hand,  terrorism  is  especially based on the feeling of intolerance and contempt   of   the   individual   /   group   to everything that is not part of its own ideology and especially to what is perceived as a threat to its current situation or aspirations, as they are outlined in the group culture.

Organized  crime,  at  its  upper structures,   requires   activities   that   can   be viewed as mostly peaceful by the ordinary observer, including office work (eg white- collar case, from the sphere of economic and financial crime, for the violence to be usually felt in the lower structures of the phenomenon; revenge actions; competition to fill market segments; illegal activity, etc.).

Regarding the objectives, terrorism aimed mainly political-ideological or political- administrative goals, including the political- administrative  takeover  of  states  or establishing new state entities. As regards the specific actions, terrorism, by its specificity, requires   (at   least   in   the   execution   part) activities that can only be classified as violent and usually have serious implications in themanagement structures of society and also in the public safety feeling.

Circumscribed  activities of  organized crime aim for objectives with serious connotations in financial economic area. Such targets may also consist of taking control of some  industries  from  the  economic  field  or with great relevance to this line.

Cross-border criminality has an international character which means that a criminal group acts in several countries, and a transnational character which refers to cooperation between criminal groups of different  nationalities  to  control  certain markets.  The  fundamental  purpose  of organized crime structures is continuous capitalization, meaning the accumulation of resources  by  illegal  means,  targeting traditional areas (drug trafficking, smuggling and tax evasion) and also new areas (terrorism, arms  trafficking,  human  trafficking, immigrants trafficking).

Transnational  organized  crime primarily   aims   for   profit.   To   effectively prevent and combat such crime, efforts should focus on detection, freezing, seizing and confiscation of crime related products. However, these operations are difficult to be achieved, due to differences between Member States laws in this field[2]. Opening borders, loosening  border  controls  and  legal  vacuum are factors that create favorable conditions to increase the crime rate.

Regarding the means of extremist- terrorist activities, these are means, par excellence, with a specific character, even in that they can not be regarded as peaceful (especially  in  the  executive  component  of those activities). For these reasons, they can not be easily hidden / concealed among means related to activity taking place currently in a given environment (officially or unofficially) endorsed  by  representatives  of  the phenomenon. Means that are used in organized crime activity are, with some exceptions, those currently in use in the particular environment or field.

In terms of the organizational framework, terrorism evolves, but especially acts, in a hidden organizational framework. This fact is a consequence of the nature of the  objectives  pursued  by  the  representatives  of the phenomenon and of the brutal methods of action that terrorist activities involve. Organized crime acts mainly in a framework that can be considered transparent, but this phenomenon’s circumscribed activities, are included, in a discreet manner, in illicit buildings / conceptual plans and execution, usually hidden.

With regard to staff training in terrorist structures, it is, par excellence, a specific training, such as to enable achieving its objectives in a hidden manner. The means that are used (including the situation in which the phenomenon is transnational) also have to be hidden.


The representatives of terrorism receive special training, including the possibility of development   in   an   environment   full   of activities to enable them to study a particular situation undercover and to act successfully, according to the aimed objective. Members of organized crime structures usually have a joint training  with  other  components  of  the operating teams. This training is completed, however,  by  matters  regarding  their willingness to act in bad faith and their disloyalty on the formal structure, institution or state within they act.

Regarding the infiltration or imposing process of own personnel by terrorist groups, it is a difficult task because it implies previously creating  specific  activities.  Although  not  a rule,  if  the  situation  requires,  in  order  to achieve the intended objectives, terrorists can (and  even  manage  to)  gain  access,  through legal channels in different target structures (providing the chance to provide information in the field or to organize and trigger a terrorist action of great impact). By force of circumstances (especially because of culture and group psychology), in general, personnelof  groups  with  activity  in  the  terrorist  area does not have the training and skills that allow easy and unnoticed access to such structures. The infiltration or imposing their own staff within objectives in organized crime, is far easier than the same action done by terrorist groups. It is possible that access to these objectives, both directly, through official channels (with respect and even exceeding the minimum standards of training required) and by using intervention / influence from other representatives of the phenomenon, to be gained from positions that allow this.

Terrorist activities are, generally, outside groups that practice, depending on the interests they serve. We find, therefore, subsidization by some states of terrorist activities   directed   against   other   states,   or against segments of their populations (state terrorism), or by donations and grants, in various forms,  from groups or organizations sharing the same ideology or the same goals (especially political-ideological or political- administrative).

An important financing source of terrorism represents, however, practised organized crime, typically by groups of persons of the same ethnic composition of those financed terrorist groups. In general, the activities related to organized crime are self-financed. Sometimes, they become the source of funding for other illegal activities (including extremist-terrorist) or even for some state budgets (the case of so- called tax havens).

In order to operate and develop, it is necessary that a terrorist organization receives (or provides) financial support. This can be provided by individuals, states (states, governmental and non-governmental organizations, political parties, etc.), regional or global, and may take forms such as: budgets of states   supporting   terrorism;   indirect   funds allocated under the cover of assistance and international aid, support to democratic, progressive forces; businessmen or immigrants grants; funds collected by the parties, religious organizations,  NGOs, individuals, etc.,  money obtained by traffickers of arms, ammunition , drugs, radioactive substances, strategic materials, human beings, works of art, fraud, tax evasion, fraudulent bankruptcy, embezzlement, forgery and  money  laundering,  etc.;  raise  funds  by taking hostages, threats, blackmail, burglary banks, attacking means carrying money or valuables.

Most countries affected by the phenomenon of organized crime have adopted and completed national legislation. They have complained about criminal activities of international origin: illicit drugs, smuggling of works of art and other national and world heritage values, illicit trade with firearms, ammunition  and  explosives,  fund  extortion, sale of stolen goods, frauds and currency or other valuables counterfeiting, kidnapping people to obtain financial benefit, false accounting   and   various   other   forms   of financial   fraud,   pimping   and   prostitution, illegal gambling games etc..

Events in the last decade and technological  progress  allowed  organized crime to exploit, at the right time, all the possibilities offered by geopolitical exchanges that took place in Central and Eastern Europe. Relations between police and government institutions highlight the following: organized crime is borderless; crime, similar to people, goods,  capital  and  information  flows  ever more freely and without constraints; organized crime has taken a new size and shape, representing a threat to collective security and democracy; crime is closely linked to urban centers, ports and economic and political strategic zones; organized crime exploits all national and regional conflicts (in the former Yugoslavia, Ireland, the Balkans, Corsica, Kurdistan or among former Soviet republics).

Due to the complexity and speed evolution of the global phenomenon of cross- border crime, there are always new forms of manifestation, and the networks involved in illegal activities are organized increasingly better,  some  of  which  having  military-type structure  with  specialized  information services,   resources   and   even   experts   in weapons of mass destruction.

Cross-border criminality is a serious threat to internal security of the European Union and its Member States. Since the adoption of the Millennium Strategy against crime in 2000, the European Union and its Member States have established principles, have  enacted  laws  and  set  up  police cooperation to combat cross-border crime.

Organized crime is a dynamic phenomenon. By changing the action domain and   modes   of   operation,   organized   crime groups have the power to adapt to economic and social changes and the measures imposed by  law  enforcement  authorities.  The Stockholm Programme prioritized the importance of protecting European citizens against   real   threats   of   organized   crime. Internal Security Strategy adopted by the European  Council  in  March  2010  and  the recent Communications of the Council on this strategy deals with organized crime as a phenomenon that manifests itself in different ways. Less serious acts such as trafficking in stolen vehicles and smuggling of counterfeit goods are manifestations of organized crime in the local organizations.

Economic recession equally affects EU citizens  and  groups  specializing  in  cross- border crime. Organized crime tends to hit the legal economic activities and may affect good functioning of public administration and judiciary system, which is the worst trend of evolution  of  the  phenomenon.

Given all this, organized crime groups have become more inventive in finding new routes, adopting new operating procedures and involving in new areas. Online betting and manipulation of sport events have become new targets   for   international   organized   crime groups.

Fight against organized crime requires well-developed  policing  and  police cooperation. It is difficult to supervise the criminality  because,  as  with  any  illegal  act, one can only see the surface of the phenomenon. Criminologists are interested in various statistics on crime, despite many existing  objections  that  the  official  statistics can not provide a valid idea of the reality of crime[3].There are different ways of doing a census of crime levels in general. On the other hand, there are very few specific cross-border crime statistics, because each state classifies its crimes under national law. According to organized crime threat assessment in the European Union – OCTA, criminal networks are divided on certain areas which sometimes overlap. Analysis of available data confirms the existence of five criminal networks with great influence on the dynamics of crime market in the EU.

The geographical center of the northwest criminal network is in the Netherlands and Belgium. Her role is the distribution of heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs and cannabis. Its influence extends into United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Baltic countries and Scandinavia. Illegal crossings can be traced from east to west (women for sexual exploitation, illegal immigration, cigarettes, counterfeit goods, synthetic drugs) and vice versa (cocaine and cannabis).


Southeast criminal network is based on its geographic location between Asia and Europe and the important role of EU output. In terms of logistics, the importance of the Black Sea defines the network and creates opportunities for trade and organized crime. Romania can be seen as an important exit to facilitate  illegal  immigration  into  the  EU, while  Bulgaria  occupies  a  central  role  in certain criminal markets such as illicit drugs, counterfeit currency and credit card fraud[4].

There are three factors that were clearly of a great influence in the evolution of cross- border crime in Europe: media development, increasing mobility of persons, goods and capital  and  the  fall  of  the  Iron  Curtain.  It should not be forgotten that increasing crime rate generally affects the cross-border crime rate. In 2009[5], EU Member States and associated countries within Schengen agreement  reported  a  total  of  106,200 detections of illegal border crossing of the EU external border. This represents a decrease by 33% compared to 2008 and refers to the decrease reported in the maritime borders by 23% and in land borders by 43%.

J.A.I. agencies network of EU where, apart  from  Frontex  and  Europol,  Eurojust and other partners meet regularly to discuss issues of common interest, continued to be a useful platform for partners, regarding exchange of information and develop common approaches. In May 2009, Frontex has also signed an agreement to work with Interpol; however, cooperation is not yet exploited at its full  potential.

Romania, like any other country, and as  EU  member  as  well,  faces  cross-border crime forms, namely human trafficking, drugs, illegal immigration,  forgery of  money,  arms trafficking,  money  laundering,  computer crime, etc.. The  main  trends that  define  the evolution of the phenomenon of cross-border crime refers to:

– amplification and diversification of cross-border crime, which is increasingly organized,    plotted    and    internationalized;

– skillful speculation on existing legislation in the area and attraction of people with decision-making power in fighting customs   fraud  and  corruption;

– the protection of illegal operations carried out and diversification in the selling of stolen    products,    values    and    proceeds;

– expansion of joining the high-income generating  crimes  with  other  violent  crimes that have serious consequences and destabilizing effects on the population (terrorism, murder contract, etc.)

– extension of the range of crime in the information technology sector (IT) by fraudulently accessing databases of institutions with expertise in national security to exploit information obtained;

–  permanent  changing  of  routes  used for trafficked goods or products to “market demand”; an increase is expected in drug trafficking  from  eastern  to  western  Europe;

– diversification of the removal of legal and professional control over border crossing of dangerous products, endangered species of fauna and flora, of the wood and forest genetic material  and  not  least  Romania’s transformation from a source of illegal workforce in a consumer for immigrants from Asia, Africa and even Europe.

In 2009, the Romanian Border Police has developed an important cooperation with the  European  Agency  FRONTEX[6].  That year represented an increase for agency activities, new concepts have been defined for operational phase and steps have been taken to close cooperation with third countries. According to this, workers of the Romanian Border  Police  participated  in  20  joint operations (of which 9 in our country) organized under the aegis of FRONTEX, as follows:

9 green border operations (one of the most important was the fifth phase of the operation Jupiter, the Romanian border with Moldova and Ukraine, which was attended by 38 representatives of 14 European Union member states, including specific logistic means);

4 blue border operations (note the work done by Romanian border guards participating in a ship in the CRATE reserve, Operation Poseidon 2009, organized at the maritime  border  of  Greece  in  the  Aegean; from 9 ships participating in this operation, the Romanian  ship  found  49%  of  all  cases  of illegal migration, Romanian border guards being  appreciated  for  their  professionalism);

– 7 air border operations.

In 2010 the Romanian Border Police (RBP)  conducted  a  series  of  joint  activities with the Frontex Agency[7], as follows: 11 op as host (4 land, 2 sea and 5 air), 10 operations as  a  guest  state  (6  terrestrial,  4  air).  Also during  2010  RBP  designated  13 representatives who traveled to Orestiada and Alexandroupolis between 11.02-31.12.2010, to participate in Operation RABIT organized by Frontex Agency. The main purpose of the operation is to ensure operational response to the pressure of illegal migration on the southeastern borders of the European Union as a result of the crisis faced at the land borders of Greece with Turkey. Romanian Border Police is  characterized  by  FRONTEX  as  an important partner, actively supporting and participating in projects to secure the external borders of EU.

Romania’s image continues to be affected by Romanian crimes committed in other states. In the last three years, the reported number of Romanian citizens with criminal activity overseas has increased continuously, reaching, in 2009, a number of over 9000[8].

90% of acts of crime committed by Romanian citizens abroad are registered in the territory of 8 countries (Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Britain). Although most illegal activities are part of the small criminality, there is occurrence of Romanian  citizens  that  are  part  of transnational organized crime channels.[9]

Cooperation between national police forces of states is not limited to tracking, capturing and extradition of criminals on international pursuit, but also covers other aspects. International fight against crime, especially against organized crime means unified actions by national police forces of all countries that have signed treaties, conventions or are part of international organizations specialized in the fight against crime. Thus, one can say that the notion of international police cooperation includes: international studies of correct  identification  of  threats,  the coordination of institutions involved, increased information sharing, harmonization of criminal procedural  legislation  of  the  States, international  legal  assistance  in  criminal matters, the development and execution of procedural acts required by the Letter of Request, to exchange data and intelligence and direct cooperation between the police in different states.

To conclude, criminality evolves and its trends are influenced by changes affecting societies,  both  in  time  and  space.  This  is  a logical consequence because crime is an inevitable byproduct of any society. To find the causes of increasing international crime is therefore necessary to consider the changes that have occurred worldwide over the last decades, especially in Europe. We might mention, as an example, demographic imbalance, economic and monetary  uncertainty,  distortions  of  rich  and poor nations.



[1] Activities analysis in the PFR in 2010.

[2] Cusson M., Rise and fall of crime, P.U.F., Paris, 1990, pp. 14-26.

[3] Council Framework Decision

2005/212/JHA of 24 February 2005 on confiscation of the instruments and assets related to crime.

[4] H.G. No. 1040 of 13 October  2010 National Strategy for public policy in 2010 -2013.

[5] OCTA Report 2009.

[6] Picca G., International aspects of the evolution of crime, International Review of Criminology and Technical Police, no. 2,1994, p.145

[7] Frontex General Report – 2009.

[8] Council Framework Decision 2005/212/JAI of 24 February 2005 on confiscation of the instruments and assets related to crime.

[9] Online source: http://www.politiadefrontiera.ro.

 Articolul a fost publicat in cadrul conferintei internatioanele de  lucrarii stiitifice AFASES 2012 ,,SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN THE AIR FORCE”