How to beat Islamic State? Crack down on cigarette smuggling

From: The Guardian | Opinion

Isis may be big budget in the Middle East, but in Europe its attackers have been petty criminals who use illicit markets. Police should focus their efforts there


One needs only to walk, as I did just prior to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in the northern open air markets of Paris to see the massive trade in smuggled cigarettes and counterfeit goods, and the availability of stolen phones used to run this trade available in the multiple mobile phone shops lining the adjoining streets. Fake documents and drugs are less visible, but also frequently available.


The links between participation in crime and terrorism are evident in the profiles of the European-born terrorists of 2014 and 2015. A terrorist involved in the attack on Charlie Hebdo had traded in counterfeit trainers and cigarettes. Amedy Coulibaly, who slaughtered people at the kosher supermarket, had an extensive violent criminal record, and the thwarted attacker of the Thalys train was a long-term small-scale drug trafficker.

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