Terrorist and criminal organizations rely on corruption and organized violence to operate in their social, criminal, and economic environments.
For example, in 2017, Lebanese-Sierra Leonean businessman Kassim Tajideen was extradited from Morocco to the United States. Tajideen has ties to the terrorist organization Hezbollah and was already designated as a terrorist operative by the United States in 2009. Yet he remained at the head of a company that included dozens of companies, some of which committed environmental crimes such as illegal logging in Africa. , illegal coal trade, and blood diamond exports.
Tajdeen was sentenced to five years in prison for conducting transactions with U.S. companies worth more than $50 million and engaging in transactions outside the United States that involved transfers of up to $1 billion through the U.S. financial system.
Another example in 2022 involves Israeli authorities shutting down a Turkish ports company from the port of Haifa because one of its controlling shareholders operated the Lebanese port of Beirut and was also a director of a shipping company with ties to Hezbollah. This is related to the fact that they were disqualified from participating in the bidding.
Environmental crime: the biggest source of funding for organized crime
These examples support a 2018 Interpol report that environmental crime is the largest source of funding for organized crime groups and terrorist organizations. According to the report, profits from environmental crimes account for 38% of terrorist organizations’ total income, making illegal logging, animal trafficking and illegal coal mining just as important to them as “traditional” sectors such as drugs. It means that it is important. Human trafficking, kidnapping, trafficking, extortion, looting, donations.
Due to the climate crisis, there is a trend toward financial investment (responsible investment) based on ESG (environment, society, and governance).
In the current era, there is a need to introduce additional indicators beyond ESG to raise awareness and support the economic fight against terrorist and criminal organizations. Possible solutions could facilitate money laundering and terrorist financing issues based on dedicated indicators, allowing companies and regulators to target entities and company owners identified as being linked to criminal and terrorist factors. Encourage them to refrain from investing.
In the current reality, corporate responsibility at the national and corporate level has become extremely important, recognizing the link between terrorist and criminal organizations and activities, especially in the field of environmental crime in conflict zones and developing countries. . However, this may reflect the inability of the international community to prevent, raise awareness of, and control environmental crimes and their perpetrators.
We need to raise the awareness of investors and regulators on this issue, both in terms of environmental responsibility and public safety in developing and developed countries.
Daniel Cohen is Director of the Policy and Technology Program at the Abba Even Institute at Reichmann University and a doctoral student at the Faculty of Business Administration at Bar Ilan University. Effie Geminer, former senior civil servant.