Hijacking the global political economy


Firstly, it is imperative to acknowledge that the concept of “terror” has changed drastically throughout history. While during the industrial revolution terrorist organisations used revolvers and dynamite, modern-day terrorist groups utilise complex equipment such as drones for instance,  which has been developed because of the technological expansion of the 20th century. The technological revolution has enabled improved capabilities, mobility and coordination across nations among terrorist organisations.

Globalisation has caused an increase in the frequency of transnational terrorism. Since globalisation has risen, the cost of illegal activity has fallen in comparison to legal work. Therefore,  overall level of terrorism in recent years has been exacerbating.  Paper money can now be used in the digital form of credit cards, debit cards and smart cards. Modes of digital money accommodate immediate transfer  of funds across borders, reducing a probability of being caught whilst channelling and utilising illegal sources of income. In addition, the integration of the global financial market makes  directing large sums required to fund terrorist activities challenging to locate. As a consequence, financial globalisation minimises government control on financial issues of concern and effectiveness of government bodies to monitor financial transactions. Therefore,  the inherent risk in illegal transactions used to support terrorist organisations is reduced.

Moreover, transnational terrorists benefit a great deal by international trade networks. They market their illegal goods and services with an aim to gather resources to fund and execute their criminal activities. The flexibility of global investment and distribution networks enable easy and relatively less risky trade as outlined above. A lack of government investigators exist who can manually monitor such large volumes of global transactions that are undertaken daily.

The international banking system which pledges towards clientele secrecy further accommodates international terrorism.  Banks compete for clients on the basis of their historic legacy of “client secrecy”. On the one hand, if banks deny secrecy to suspicious clients, they face a risk of losing profit and consequently an entire customer base. On the other hand, banks are bound legally and therefore cannot disclose any private client information to governments. Hence, banks are likely to continue implicitly accommodating transnational terrorists. This clearly portrays that terrorist organisations are winners in the global political economy.

Nevertheless, a few others argue that the global integration of the international political economy helps prevent terrorist incidents because it facilitates economic development and  reduces poverty, which in turn eliminates an incentive to engage in terrorist activities.  Krueger and Maleckova (2002) assessed the correlation between poverty or poor education and terrorist activities. The results revealed were interesting. The occurrence of hate crimes which are similar to terrorism are largely unrelated to economic conditions. For instance, Israeli Jewish individuals during the early 1980s involved in terrorist activities were well educated and engaged in well paid work. However, this example should be treated cautiously. An individual oriented case cannot be generalised particularly on an international level !


Economic Globalization and Transnational Terrorism [Available:http://people.tamu.edu/~quanli/research_papers/reprint_files/JCR_2004_terrorism.pdf]

Ammna Nasser (Dubai campus)


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