Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Linkages between Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 6, 2020


Thank you so much. And thank you to the briefers – we applaud your teams’ efforts to strengthen the Council’s understanding of the linkages between terrorism and organized crime.

It is clear that in some cases and some regions, terrorist and organized criminal groups exploit and benefit from weak democratic institutions and law enforcement and take advantage of porous borders and ungoverned or under-governed territories. In some parts of the world, these conditions provide opportunities for terrorists and transnational criminal groups to coexist in the same territory, develop alliances based on common interests, and even collaborate.

Based on trends we have seen, transnational criminal organizations are unlikely to risk attracting the attention of authorities through collaboration with high-profile terrorist organizations or involvement in terrorist activity. In the instances where we see a linkage between terrorists and organized criminal groups, whole of government and whole of society approaches are vital to address the complex nature of the crimes. Strong border security, regional cooperation, and intelligence sharing between security agencies allows for effective responses to combat both and can prevent nefarious actors from taking advantage of trafficking routes and networks in regions with under-policed or porous borders.

In this regard, an important tool for Member States is Resolution 2396, in which the Security Council obligated all Member States to collect and analyze advance passenger information and passenger name records and to develop watch lists. API/PNR data can help investigators identify connections between individuals associated with terrorist and organized criminal groups. We urge Member States who need technical assistance or capacity building in this area to please request it.

Existing treaties, including the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and international counterterrorism instruments and protocols also provide a useful framework to facilitate law enforcement cooperation. The United States has used the UNTOC as a legal basis more than 650 times since 2005 to provide or request mutual legal assistance, extradition, and other forms of international legal cooperation with at least 99 countries.

In addition to law enforcement efforts to counter criminal and terrorist linkages, it is also important to engage local communities and civil society to address the underlying conditions conducive to the spread of violent extremism or transnational organized crime. Local civil society is often attuned to the complex issues in play on the ground to assist Member States in finding practical solutions.

Since the adoption of Resolution 2482 last year, the UN has made great strides to better understand the linkages between terrorists and organized criminal groups. The U.S. applauds UNODC’s capacity building programming to address these linkages. The United States recommends the UN strengthen its cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, as well as international platforms like the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

The GCTF has created good practices to assist Member States in addressing potential linkages and brings together traditional criminal investigators and those handling terrorism cases.

Mr. President, the United States looks forward to hearing the experiences of our partner countries on how they are identifying and addressing these linkages. And we will continue to work with the United Nations; organizations such as FATF, the G-7, and the GCTF; and partner countries around the world to address both transnational organized crime and terrorism.

Thank you.