Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Balkans: Gang Rules

Balkans: Gang Rules:
The Kosovo government is under increasing scrutiny by Western European democracies. The Western Europeans are focusing on the corruption that plagues the new government. The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo has also criticized the corruption. The complaints are legitimate but a lot of Balkan observers are chuckling. Many senior government ministers have ties to the old Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which led the resistance against Serbia. The KLA had deep links to Balkan smuggling rings and to international narcotics traffickers. Even supporters of the Kosovar Albanian cause looked askance at dealing with the KLA because of the crime links. Criminals move into government and, presto, it's corrupt. Police reports of Serbian gangsters dealing with Albanian gangsters also receive the what-else-is-new treatment. These are Balkan smuggling rings, and they play rough.

Medieval Microcredit? Pledging and Rural Credit in England During the Middle Ages � Medievalists.net

Medieval Microcredit? Pledging and Rural Credit in England During the Middle Ages � Medievalists.net

Before the banksters:

Abstract: How do credit markets function in societies where legal contract enforcement is weak? This paper uses a model to examine how the institution of personal pledging aided the development of credit markets in medieval England. It demonstrates how the practice of pledging improved repayment rates by lowering enforcement costs, mitigating the problems associated with adverse selection, and provides an additional source of mutual insurance. By combining the model with historical evidence, it can be shown that pledging helped to enable illiterate peasants to gain access to capital markets.

Introduction: How did credit markets emerged in medieval England? This is the puzzle addressed in this paper. It is a puzzle because credit markets developed in England in the absence of institutions like notary credit or widespread access to debt registries, which played important roles in the development of credit in continental Europe. Most peasants were illiterate and rural credit was typically based oral contracts. Moreover, the legal institutions responsible for enforcing contracts were weak.

For this reason the study of rural credit was neglected by historians until recently comparatively. They emphasized the importance of a non-market economy based on the manor in which money was not the dominant medium of exchange and land was held by customary tenure and was rarely permanently alienated.2 Research in the past few years, however, suggests that a rural credit markets did exist in medieval England and that they were comparatively effective enabling a broad swathe of the population to access capital.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bulgaria health minister charged with graft

Bulgaria health minister charged with graft :
Minister charged with mismanaging vaccine contract.

Former Croat deputy prime minister arrested - Top News - Croatia - Dalje.com

Former Croat deputy prime minister arrested:
Police on Tuesday arrested a former Croatian deputy prime minister and economy minister who had been the subject of a probe over his role in a major corruption affair, the interior ministry said.

The East African�- UN shows Kenya links to both sides in Somalia

The East African�- UN shows Kenya links to both sides in Somalia:
Kenya serves as “a major base” for Islamist groups battling Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, the United Nations says in a recent report that also details the Kenyan government’s training of TFG forces — in apparent violation of a UN embargo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

China mining company causes unrest in Niger / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com

China mining company causes unrest in Niger / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com:
As resource-hungry China expands its mining operations in Niger, Tuareg rebels say China enriched a corrupt government at the expense of locals.

Kenya ‘fails’ reality test: News24: Africa: News

Kenya ‘fails’ reality test: News24: Africa: News:
Kenyans' faith in their rulers is at its lowest, the pledged reforms are nowhere to be seen and many argue that, as the government doubled in size to accommodate feuding parties, so did corruption.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Seven bailed in Guinean drug investigation | www.english.rfi.fr

Seven bailed in Guinean drug investigation | www.english.rfi.fr:
In Guinea, seven army officers arrested last year in connection with drug-trafficking have been released on bail. However, the son of late president Lansana Cont�remains in jail. The suspects were arrested in February and March 2009 by the Guinean anti-drug squad.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greece's Bottom Line: Too Many Tax Cheats : NPR

Greece's Bottom Line: Too Many Tax Cheats : NPR
The government estimates that the underground, untaxed economy in Greece is nearly one-third of gross domestic product, or some 113 billion Euros. That means billions in uncollected taxes.

Mexico: As drug planes get seized, cartels adapt -- Signs of the Times News

Mexico: As drug planes get seized, cartels adapt -- Signs of the Times News
Gone are the days when twin-engine planes could fly directly from Colombia to staging areas in northern Mexico. Those long-range flights raise too much suspicion on radar.

Greece to Default ‘At Some Point,’ UBS’s Donovan Says (Update1) - Bloomberg.com

Greece to Default ‘At Some Point,’ UBS’s Donovan Says (Update1) - Bloomberg.com:
“I think it’s in an impossible situation...”

DAWN.COM | International | Kenyan government anti-graft efforts a facade

DAWN.COM | International | Kenyan government anti-graft efforts a facade:
“The entire infrastructure of governance in Kenya is corruption,” said Job Ogonda, executive director of Transparency International’s Kenyan chapter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gambia: The Gambia’s Turbulent Political Landscape: What Does the Future Hold for the Miniscule West African Nation?

Gambia: The Gambia’s Turbulent Political Landscape: What Does the Future Hold for the Miniscule West African Nation?:
Citing regional experiences of state collapse in Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory-Coast, it should be noted that an analysis of Gambia’s unfolding political realities falls along similar trajectories.

Niger coup: Good for Tuareg rebels, bad for uranium investors / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com

Niger coup: Good for Tuareg rebels, bad for uranium investors / The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com:
The military junta announced it will audit all uranium exploration permits awarded before last month's Niger coup. Evidence has emerged that the permits enriched the ousted president and devastated the Tuareg population.

EU Urges Bulgaria, Romania to Step Up Fighting Crime (Update1) - BusinessWeek

EU Urges Bulgaria, Romania to Step Up Fighting Crime (Update1) - BusinessWeek:
Bulgaria is showing “poor results” in its fight against graft and organized crime, while Romania has “not been able to keep the momentum” going on its efforts, the European Union said in a report today.

Criminal gangs, not terrorists, are the biggest threat to Scotland, warns former top cop | The Sun |Home Scotland|Scottish News

Criminal gangs, not terrorists, are the biggest threat to Scotland, warns former top cop | The Sun |Home Scotland|Scottish News:
"Organised crime is a growing issue for Scotland and Glasgow in particular. They demoralise and destabilise communities and take over business."

Italian mafia Ndrangheta extends to Portugal: report - People's Daily Online

Italian mafia Ndrangheta extends to Portugal: report - People's Daily Online:
The Iberian Peninsula has become the new frontier for the crime syndicates who have been engaged in illegal activities like money laundering in the past years, Italian investigators said.


Guniea Bissau is a former Portuguese colony.

A True Portrait of a paranoid leader

A True Portrait of a paranoid leader:
For many in the West, Yahya Jammeh in geopolitical terms is a small ruler, but his continual madness is more a concern for peace and stability of the Senegambia sub-region. Gambia is a show case example of West Africa’s fragile democracy and every signs are that one man’s greed for power can break the country into political conflict similar to that of DR Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The dispatches of Gambia today are hallowing poverty amid pervasive feelings of hopelessness.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Drug Trafficking Through Panama Has Increased - Stephenson - Panama Guide

Drug Trafficking Through Panama Has Increased:
Drug trafficking in Panama has increased 'alarmingly' - as have the number of murders, said US Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson. 'We have seen an alarming increase in the amount of cocaine and other drugs transiting the seas and Panamanian soil, leaving a trail of death and corruption,' said the diplomat at a forum on organized crime.

Moving into the Costa Jamaican-British Yardies were the Jamaicans who immigrated to Britain in 1950s | Costa del Gangster

Moving into the Costa Jamaican-British Yardies were the Jamaicans who immigrated to Britain in 1950s | Costa del Gangster

Friday, March 19, 2010

Land Grab Links

The West Africa Observer discusses the Global Land Grab and other topics.

It cites the following as useful links regarding the land grab:

  • International Land Coalition:
    “Commercial Pressures on Land” is one of the International Land
    Coalition’s global initatives aiming to promote a wide collaboration
    between civil society organisations, intergovernmental organisations
    and research based institutes.The website provides access to a large
    document database including analytical studies, briefing notes,
    policy papers, laws and many other resources. It also links to a
    dedicated blog to further discuss land acquisition issues.
  • FAO Land Tenure website:
    This website offers access to various FAO publications, studies, policy
    series, notes, guidelines and various other information sources on
    land tenure and related issues.
  • LandNet:
    This regional West African land network is specialised in land issues
    at the national and regional levels. LandNet is represented by four
    national member organisations (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Togo)
    and by individual members in more than 10 West African countries.
  • The Hub Rural:
    The Hub’s goal is to assist West and Central African stakeholders
    (states, inter-governmental organisations, civil society organisations
    and development partners) to promote coherence in rural
    development programmes worldwide.


The following map contrasts population and soil characteristics of the Sahel. Note that this region corresponds to that where much drug smuggling and related activity is taking place:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kenya - Ministry appeals to UK over funds

Kenya- Ministry appeals to UK over funds:
Acting permanent secretary Magdalene Wambua said the UK could count on the government’s determination to stamp out corruption.

Reuters AlertNet - Gambia accuses former army officials of coup plot

Reuters AlertNet - Gambia accuses former army officials of coup plot

Whether these accusations are true or not, something unusual is now happening in the Gambia.

Wachovia pays $160 mln to settle drug money probe | Reuters

Wachovia pays $160 mln to settle drug money probe | Reuters:
Bank was accused of laundering Mexican drug money

Eastern European mafia is well-connected in the West, says leading expert | World | Deutsche Welle | 17.03.2010

Eastern European mafia is well-connected in the West, says leading expert | World | Deutsche Welle | 17.03.2010:
The 'gangster economy' is what Roth calls it - that's the title of his latest book, set to be published in April. And he says there's not much Western law-enforcement authorities can do to combat it.

'The main problem is that it's difficult for investigators to distinguish between legal and illegal activites,' Roth told Deutsche Welle.

He also says that, given how dependent Western European countries are on Eastern European energy, Western politicians are reluctant to pressure their Eastern counterparts to fight organized crime.

Key political risks in Western Balkans

Key political risks in Western Balkans

Tensions dating from the 1980's remain unresolved.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

African borders poorly policed | DefenceWeb

African borders poorly policed | DefenceWeb:
Most African governments do not know what is moving across their borders, because they lack the funds to properly patrol their borders, waters and territory, and to monitor their air space.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Guyana Observer News - Guyana has a growing drug-trafficking problem

Guyana Observer News - Guyana has a growing drug-trafficking problem:
Porous borders, policing and security are low priority issues. The refusal to accept UK funding to train the security services to protect the people and the nation was based on the lame excuse of trampling on sovereignty. The same argument was thrown to the wind, when the President went at taxpayers’ expense all the way to Iran to invite them into the country on the pretext of mineral mapping. If this is not allowing outsiders to trample on the country’s sovereignty, then what is? They are also turning a blind eye to the influx of Brazilians swarming over porous borders. Guyana is becoming free for all while the local and indigenous people are paying a heavy price.

Jamaica Gleaner News - Tough inner-city realities - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010

Jamaica Gleaner News - Tough inner-city realities - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010:
I reproduce the quotation Levy uses to communicate the outcome of this phenomenon: 'Violent gangs arise when young people face a future of limited opportunity and despair, when for military, political, social or economic reasons the life that awaits a young person has been stripped of meaning and validity.' (Deborah Prothrow-Smith). This is why much of what has been written about solutions to the problem of crime and violence, not just in Jamaica but elsewhere, has focused on the importance of initiatives which help people to retrieve a sense of self-worth, dignity and respect.

Jamaica Gleaner News - Jamaica's killing streets - Garrison politics the crux of crime - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010

Jamaica Gleaner News - Jamaica's killing streets - Garrison politics the crux of crime - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010:
I argue for a simple point staring in our faces, that the root of the problem is to be found in what the political parties with popular consent have done in their quest for power - converted communities into garrisons and transformed instruments of unity and solidarity into war machines. Authoritarian garrison structure with violent ways turned communities into killing fields, robbing them of their cohesion, vitality and ability to function as communities. Youth corner crews, drawn into community defence, became community gangs and a dominating force in the communities.

Irregular Warfare: Brazil's Fight Against Criminal Urban Guerrillas

Irregular Warfare: Brazil's Fight Against Criminal Urban Guerrillas
Pagination or Media Count : 99

Abstract : In this monograph Major General Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro contributes to the discussion of urban guerrillas, their impact on society, and the role of the armed forces in countering criminal elements. The rise of urban guerrillas is a result of an evolution in command and control capabilities, weapons, and doctrine that has given them strong influence over the daily lives of citizens living in neighborhoods where government support and control is limited or absent. The favelas (ghettos, slums) of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo provide the setting for General Alvaro's monograph. What makes the monograph compelling is that this Brazilian story has universal application in many locales that are under-governed and under-supported by constituted authorities. Criminal groups like the Red Command and Third Command have been able to thrive in the favelas because of ineffective policing and lack of government interest. These Brazilian gangs have filled the void with their own form of governance. Criminal urban guerrillas have latched onto revolutionary doctrine, such as the "Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla" (a translation is appended), so as to give political legitimacy to their lawlessness. These gangs terrorize the residents of the favelas, holding them hostage to criminal exploits while keeping government legitimacy and security in check. As in the United States, when the general welfare of civil society is at risk, the President may call upon the armed forces to aid the police or take control. A notable difference between the two countries is the expansive role that Brazilian armed forces can take. Chapters are as follows: Introduction; Foundations of Brazilian Organized Criminal Factions; The PCC, Brazil's Most Powerful Organized Crime Faction; The Main Criminal Factions in Rio de Janeiro and Connections with the PCC (Comando Vermelho, Terceiro Comando Puro, and Amigos dos Amigos); Brazilian Organized Crime Foreign Connections; and The Armed Forces' Role.

Descriptors : *GUERRILLA WARFARE, *MILITARY FORCES(FOREIGN), *LAW ENFORCEMENT, *URBAN WARFARE, *GOVERNMENT(FOREIGN), *BRAZIL, *CRIMINALS, PUBLIC SAFETY, DRUG SMUGGLING, CRIMES, PROPAGANDA, SABOTAGE, PRISONERS, PRISONS, PARAGUAY, COLOMBIA, TERRORISM, POLICE, MILITARY TACTICS, HOSTAGES, ORGANIZATIONS, LEADERSHIP

Subject Categories : SOCIOLOGY AND LAW
MILITARY FORCES AND ORGANIZATIONS
UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

Mafia deeply entrenched in Australia

Mafia deeply entrenched in Australia:
'The links with the mafia families are steadfast and deeply rooted in Australia where permanent traditional links with the Calabrian clans have been solidly established ' the report says. 'Clans like Sergi Barbaro Papalia have been active through their Australian affiliates for some time.'

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jamaica Gleaner News - United States vs its 'backyard' - Washington always wins - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010

Jamaica Gleaner News - United States vs its 'backyard' - Washington always wins - Lead Stories - Sunday | March 14, 2010
THE FACE-off between Washington and Kingston over reputed Tivoli Gardens enforcer Christopher 'Dudus' Coke has revived memories of similar clashes between the United States and countries in this region.

How rice smugglers enrich Benin, Togo Republics

How rice smugglers enrich Benin, Togo Republics:
Due to the high import duty in Nigeria, rice is brought in enroute Benin and Togo. The Nigerian Customs Service appears to be helpless as this trend continues to the benefit of the two West African countries.

The illegal way of moving goods across borders is eating deep into Nigeria, crippling the country’s economy. Last year alone, the country was said to have lost a whopping N16.3billion to the nefarious activities of smugglers whose population is increasing.

Besides, observers say the federal government’s loss owing to unlawful importation of rice through the nation’s land borders may peak at N50 billion in the near future should the status quo remain.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mexico: U.S. Cops For Sale

Mexico: U.S. Cops For Sale:
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security report that since 2008 Mexican cartels have made a concerted effort to bribe law enforcement agents in the U.S..

Serbia's drug mafia threatens top officials daily - World - Javno

Serbia's drug mafia threatens top officials daily - World - Javno:
Serbian drug traffickers are sending daily death threats to the country's top officials, including president Boris Tadic, Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said.

Friday, March 12, 2010

News - Africa: Gambia drug chief re-arrested

News - Africa: Gambia drug chief re-arrested:
The chief of Gambia's national drug agency has been re-arrested as part of a drug trafficking probe barely 24 hours after he was released, military sources said on Friday.
....
Sources have confirmed that all of those arrested, including the police and navy chiefs, the former fisheries minister and the army's number two, were all still being detained and have not yet been charged.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trinidad and Tobago: The World's Newest Narcostate - By Dorn Townsend | Foreign Policy

Trinidad and Tobago: The World's Newest Narcostate - By Dorn Townsend | Foreign Policy
But, unfortunately, the Port of Spain government helps stoke the drug trade and the gangs. The country's annual per capita GDP has risen from about $11,000 to $18,800 in the past decade due to strong exports of natural gas and steel. Still, unemployment remains high, and to create jobs, the government spends about $400 million per year on make-work projects. The bulk of this money is ultimately funneled to gang leaders, who administer "grants" and distribute "salaries." Indeed, corruption -- always a problem in the country -- is reaching new heights. According to several security analysts, a damning unofficial study carried out by the government in 2009 suggested that almost 90 percent of police officers were regularly involved in illegal activities. Those pursuits ranged from running and selling drugs, to colluding with gangs by renting out weapons to criminals, to performing extralegal killings.

Guatemala and organised crime: Reaching the untouchables | The Economist

Attempts to stop drugs money corrupting public life in Guatemala are making some progress.
Free from prosecution, many veterans of the intelligence and security services who had run right-wing death squads regrouped into crime gangs with a lucrative kidnapping business, some of them continuing to serve in the police. Their profits were used to buy off witnesses, judges, and politicians. These networks, present in almost every government agency, joined forces with international drugs traffickers, giving them new funding and firepower.

Jamaica and organised crime: Seeking Mr Coke | The Economist

American anger at Jamaica’s slowness in handing over an alleged gang boss:
The community influence his lawyer credits Mr Coke with means that the police might find it difficult and dangerous to find and arrest him. Given his father’s fate, it would be understandable if he were reluctant to submit himself to extradition. If the American allegations of political links are well-founded, some Jamaican public figures may fear that Mr Coke’s arrest would lead to the disclosure of embarrassing information. It is rumoured that he has deposited incriminating documents with lawyers, to be released in the event of his untimely death.

Taming Brazil's favelas - Telegraph

Taming Brazil's favelas - Telegraph:
But despite the positive results, the 'invade, shoot and leave’ police tactics are still going on in other favelas, because the police don’t yet have sufficient resources to expand the programme to the whole city....

Greek riots: Up to 60,000 people take to streets to protest against government | Mail Online

Greek riots: Up to 60,000 people take to streets to protest against government | Mail Online:
Thursday's strike - the second in a week - brought the country to a virtual standstill, grounding all flights and bringing public transport to a halt.

Spain to crack down on corrupt politicians after spate of scandals - Times Online

Spain to crack down on corrupt politicians after spate of scandals - Times Online:
Spain is to crack down on corrupt MPs and mayors after a spate of scandals that have shaken the already frail public faith in the country’s political establishment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kosovo: Two years of Quasi-state - Peace and Collaborative Development Network

Kosovo: Two years of Quasi-state - Peace and Collaborative Development Network:
Two years has gone since Kosovo Albanians declared their independence from Serbia. However calling to Kosovo needs country code 381 – which is Serbia – or by GSM 377 44 (via Monaco Telecom) or others via Serbian operators. This because as at this time, Abkhazia, Kosovo, Transnistria, Somaliland, South Ossetia and others are not in the ISO 3166-1 standard due the absence of recognition by the United Nations. Situation is one minor example about Kosovo “statehood”. Besides formalities – like that the province is administrated as international protectorate by foreign powers – the on the ground status is more complicated and even going more far away from drawing board ideals of Washington and Brussels.

Drug cartels are on the move - Vindy.com, The Vindicator

Drug cartels are on the move - Vindy.com, The Vindicator:
Are Washington’s drug interdiction programs really helping reduce the supply of drugs? Or are they just chasing the drug lords out of one country only to see them reemerge in another?

Gulf Cartel goes public on break-up with former allies Los Zetas - Monsters and Critics

Gulf Cartel goes public on break-up with former allies Los Zetas - Monsters and Critics

Many discussion about illicit developments assert that various groups, e.g. FARC and al Qaeda, are "linked," in some coordinated, directed, coherent movement.

However, as the above article detailing the breakup of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas illustrates, illicit groups can have divergent goals and purposes, that they can delink, diverge, and even fight one another.

So the next time that you hear that, say, the 'Ndrangheta may be doing business with the Burmese, take the report with a grain of salt and recognize that this probably does not mean that they are therefore subsidiaries of some larger Moriarity/Fu Manchu type conspiracy.

The Pain in Spain

The Pain in Spain

The primary difference between Spain's problems and Greece's is that Spain is much larger.

While the market has not yet reacted to Spain's problems, look ahead toward June, when many of its debts will fall due.

AFP: Gambia president slams drugs as top brass arrested

AFP: Gambia president slams drugs as top brass arrested:
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh vowed Tuesday 'zero tolerance' for drug-trafficking after 11 top officials, including the police and navy chiefs, were arrested in a swoop believed linked to drugs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Internet Problems

My ISP is experiencing "technical difficulties," so posting will be scanty until "these issues are resolved."

Guatemala News | Drug trafficking a major security threat for Guatemala and the Region

Guatemala News | Drug trafficking a major security threat for Guatemala and the Region:
Drug trafficking is often protected by local gangs, maras, that appear to have established criminal associations with Mexican drug cartels.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Art Theft Central: An Economic View on Forgery

Art Theft Central: An Economic View on Forgery:
An economic analysis of fakes differs substantially from the legal and the art historic views which both tend to propose repressive policies against imitations. But there are large economic benefits from copying. In particular the 'propagation effect' yields utility to both consumers and creators of the original. In contrast the harmful effects of fakes are small and are mitigated by emerging institutions guarantees sellers with reputation 1 .

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The spread of counterfeiting: Knock-offs catch on | The Economist

The spread of counterfeiting: Knock-offs catch on | The Economist:
Counterfeiting “used to be a luxury goods problem”, says Therese Randazzo, who is in charge of protecting intellectual property at America’s customs service. Now people are trying to traffic counterfeit items that have a “wider effect on the economy”, she says, such as pharmaceuticals and computer parts. A new study by America’s Department of Commerce shows that fakes have even infiltrated the army. The number of counterfeit parts in military electronics systems more than doubled between 2005 and 2008, potentially damaging high-tech weapons.

Stabroek News - Guyana bearing burden of drug fight

Stabroek News - Guyana bearing burden of drug fight:
‘more walk, less talk’ needed from US

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Terrorism’s new target: Econo-Jihad

Terrorism’s new target: Econo-Jihad
Jihadist terror organizations have set economic terrorism as their new target, intending to harm and paralyze Western economies, the United Sates in particular, claims Prof. Gabriel Weimann, expert researcher of terrorism over the Internet at the University of Haifa. Prof. Weimann monitored websites hosted by terrorist and terrorism-supporting organizations and concludes: “For the Jihadists, the present economic crisis signifies an ideal opportunity and platform to leverage a economic terrorist campaign.”

In the course of a study that was carried out over a number of years, Prof. Weimann surveyed public and encoded websites run by Islamic terrorist organizations, forums, video clips, and practically all the information related to Islamic Jihad terrorism that is flowing through the network.

According to Prof. Weimann, the focus on economic terrorism was set in motion with the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers, when Osama bin Laden stated on the video tapes that he sent out that these attacks mostly damaged the United States’ economic base and that these attacks, which cost $500,000 to carry out, cost the U.S. $500 billion.
Other publications by bin Laden himself and by other terrorist leaders show that they understand that Western and U.S. power lies in their economic strength and that the jihad movement should focus on damaging this power by employing various tactics, including: hitting international corporations directly; harming international corporations by means of 1.5 billion Muslims boycotting them, which would pressure the respective governments to adjust their policies; striking at resources that were “looted” from Muslim countries, such as oil-drilling companies in Iraq; assassinating key personalities in the global economy, most of whom they believe are Jews, and killing anyone who collaborates with these personalities.

Monitoring the Muslim terrorist-related information on the Internet, Prof. Weimann also revealed that the armed struggle against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan is aimed at prolonging American expenditure on maintaining forces in these countries, and not necessarily at military defeat. The jihadists believe that this would help drain America’s financial resources and eventually critically damage the American economy. Therefore, they aim to make the U.S. open as many military fronts around the world as possible.

Another result of this new focus on Econo-Jihad is an increasing jihadist interest in websites and online information on the American and Western economies, so as to glean an understanding of how these economies can be hit the hardest. Not only official websites are monitored: forums and e-mails of individual surfers are penetrated too. By tracking Jihadist forums, Prof. Weimann has found that these surfers are increasingly following Western finance-related media publications too, as well as expert and academic analyses of the factors influencing Western economy, such as the war in Iraq, global terrorism, natural disasters, oil prices, unemployment rates, and declines in the stock market.

“One might think that an Econo-Jihad is less violent, but this is not the case. Jihadist Internet monitoring alongside terrorist activity in the field, is evidence that the economic turn actually influences the terrorists’ targets, which have included oil-drilling infrastructures, tourism, international economic institutions and more. Indeed, Islamic terrorism’s future devices will focus on targets that will yield the most economic damage,” Prof. Weimann concludes.

BBC News - Newsnight - On the trail of the vultures picking over Liberia's debt

BBC News - Newsnight - On the trail of the vultures picking over Liberia's debt:
Over the last five years the UK, US and other countries have written off billions of dollars in loans to the world's poorest countries in an attempt to make poverty history.

But a small group of ruthless financiers - the vulture funds - have been trying to divert that money into their own pockets. Greg Palast reports on their latest target, Liberia, and on moves by UK MPs, prompted in part by a previous Newsnight investigation, to outlaw such funds.

Is Dubai attracting illegal trade? | Al Jazeera Blogs

Is Dubai attracting illegal trade? | Al Jazeera Blogs:
But it's not just assassinations and money laundering affecting Dubai's reputation.

Afghanistan's opium kings, Somalia's pirates and Iranian and Indian mafia are all believed to use Dubai as a key staging post for their illicit activities.

Stonewalled on extradition request, US questions Jamaica as ally in drug trafficking fight | StarTribune.com

Stonewalled on extradition request, US questions Jamaica as ally in drug trafficking fight | StarTribune.com:
In a report Monday, the State Department suggested corruption could be holding up the extradition request. It noted Coke has ties to the governing Jamaica Labor Party and essentially controls the barricaded Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in west Kingston, the home constituency of Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Guatemala police chief arrested | News Portal

Guatemala police chief arrested | News Portal:
Guatemala’s chief of national police and the country’s top anti-drugs official have been arrested over alleged links to drug trafficking.

British cocaine trade blocking 'inadequate' - mirror.co.uk

British cocaine trade blocking 'inadequate' - mirror.co.uk:
The Home Affairs Select Committee said it saw no evidence attempts to stop the drug getting in had affected its 'ready availability' on the streets of Britain.

Police, the UK Border Agency and the Serious Organised Crime Agency were stopping as little as 12% of supply - meaning up to 30 tonnes were still reaching the UK every year, it said. In a report the committee identified a 'culture of complacency' at UKBA over cocaine seizures.

Italian mafia creating 'alternative' government - MP

Italian mafia creating 'alternative' government - MP: "
Ansa quoted Giuseppe Pisanu, head of the parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission, as saying that the mafia's ultimate objective was to create an alternative to the government through control of the economy and finance, facilitated by its ability to corrupt politics.

Slovenia 2010 Crime & Safety Report

Slovenia 2010 Crime & Safety Report : "
Organized crime activity is a problem, but to a lesser extent than in neighboring countries. There is suspected involvement in narcotics trafficking, auto theft, fraud, tax evasion, counterfeit goods, and alien smuggling. However, as a member of the Schengen area, Slovenia exerts strict control over its borders and procedures for visa issuance.

Drug Lords Are Still Running Guyana � Wendy Cooper's Weblog

Drug Lords Are Still Running Guyana � Wendy Cooper's Weblog:
Bribes and coercion see Guyana’s dons continuing to operate with impunity despite some strides made by local law agencies in investigating drug crimes, the 2010 US State Department Inter-national Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) has found.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hunt of the Sea Wolves � Blog Archive � Somali pirates set to gain from Asia coal boom

Hunt of the Sea Wolves � Blog Archive � Somali pirates set to gain from Asia coal boom:
Companies involved in this seaborne coal trade said they have already had to swallow higher costs due to taking longer routes to avoid pirate hotspots and insurance premiums.

US report says Balkans remain major drug route (SETimes.com)

US report says Balkans remain major drug route (SETimes.com):
The Balkans remain a major transit route for drugs moving from production to consumer countries, despite efforts by local governments to combat trafficking, the US State Department concluded in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report published on Monday (March 1st)

Bulgaria: Key Bulgarian Mafia Bosses Revealed to Be Former Policemen - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency

Bulgaria: Key Bulgarian Mafia Bosses Revealed to Be Former Policemen - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency:
The inspection was carried out by the Information and Archives Directorate and Human Resources Directorate over recent media claims that some of the top gangsters were collaborators of the Interior Ministry.

Bulgaria - transit country of heroin and cocaine

Bulgaria - transit country of heroin and cocaine:
Despite the development of the reforms in the administration of justice and the new legislation, lack of financing, inadequate equipment, continuing corruption and the formalistic judicial procedures continues being a challenge in the fight against drugs.

Corruption Matters

Reports accumulate over corruption in Kenya, Greece, Bulgaria, Guatemala, and Italy.

Although none of these reports individually provide much new information to this blog's readers, their combined impact contributes to the drip, drip, drip of political malaise that we have been witnessing.

On a positive note, the Bulgarian government does seem serious about combating corruption; however, there's apparently quite a lot of corruption in Bulgaria for it to combat.