Before departing from her position as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton stated at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is “not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise.” Recognizing the interconnected nature of these multifaceted illicit networks, Clinton affirmed that to combat them, “we’ve got to have a better strategy.”
The former top U.S. diplomat was voicing a conviction increasingly shared by governments and multilateral organizations around the world, which are beginning to recognize that today’s most pressing security challenges are too connected, transnational and vast for states to confront either one at a time or unilaterally. Institutional integration will be needed to combating interconnected threats, and while there will be growing pains -- bureaucratic change is difficult -- there are indications that key stakeholders are moving in the right direction.
The most recent evidence of the interconnectedness of the world’s threats, particularly the links between terrorism and organized crime, was AQIM’s Jan. 16 attack on Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is thought to have masterminded the attack, is nicknamed “Mr. Marlboro” because of his involvement in cigarette smuggling -- an enterprise through which AQIM gets much of its financing.