Student entries

Criminal gangs and Terrorism

In late November 2019, federal, state and local law enforcement led a series of arrests and seizures in Georgia. According to a typical news account:

A multi-agency investigation in north Georgia has led to several federal charges and 13 arrests across two states in connection with a major criminal organization…two search warrants were executed…led to arrests of people from both Georgia and Tennessee. Charges included Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act violations, violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, firearms possession counts and numerous counts tied to illegal drugs.

Among the arrests were people that the ARDEO statement suggests were members of or associated with the Aryan Brotherhood, a criminal organization “that is involved in violence, firearms, and transportation of illegal narcotics.”

This case highlights an inclusion challenge for tPP. News accounts consistently refers to the Aryan Brotherhood as a CRIMINAL organization. However, the charge rhetorically labels  gang activity TERRORISM, and the Brotherhood is an organization that can produce organized political violence and has a socio-political agenda.

Do we include the case based on the group, since the Aryan Brotherhood has been known organizationally to support political violence? Do we include because state speech labels the crime as terroristic? Do we exclude because  the defendants are labeled as criminals and not social or political actors?
To make the question more complex, in recent weeks, President Trump has threatened to begin designating Mexican drugs cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs). According to the New York Times:

President Trump revived this idea [of narco-terrorism] in an interview last week with the former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. “Are you going to designate those cartels in Mexico as terror groups and start hitting them with drones and things like that?” Mr. O’Reilly asked. “I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated,” Mr. Trump responded. “I have been working on that for the last 90 days.” He was referring to putting some of the cartels on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

If this were to occur, it would have major impacts on (not only tPP but also) US domestic policing policy, national security policy, and questions of legality and counter-terrorism measures.

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