Terrorism and organized crime: Italy addresses need to coordinate actions

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NEW YORK, AUGUST 6 – Addressing an open debate on linkages between terrorism and organized crime, Italy underlined the crucial need for the international community to act in a coordinated manner and further promote the exchange of information and best practices.

“This debate is especially timely in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the vulnerability of individuals and groups to violent extremism while exposing economic and financial systems to major risks of unlawful behaviors. The deteriorated socio-economic environment has increased the danger of speculation, fraud and corruption, and created favorable conditions for organized crime and terrorism as well as the malicious nexus between the two”, an Italian delegate said, recalling Italy’s steadfast commitment to the fight against terrorism and organized crime within a framework of respect for fundamental guarantees and the protection of human rights.

Italy has a long experience in this matter, and has adopted a series of legislative, institutional, and effective operational tools building on legal framework developed in the 1970s to counter terrorism, and, in the 1980s and 90s, to counter organized crime. The National Anti-Mafia Directorate – a centralized judicial authority to coordinate investigations into organized crime – was established in 2001. Its mandate was later extended to cover terrorism, so it was renamed the National Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism Directorate. Today the Directorate plays the essential role of coordinating the work of all of Italy’s main stakeholders, and has access to all the files managed by the District Prosecutors’ Offices. This mechanism has achieved great results in countering all forms of terrorism at both the domestic and the international level.

Innovative operational tools have been developed within this framework. These include non-conviction-based confiscation measures, which have neutralized or considerably reduced the economic power of the main criminal players. Electronic surveillance and the so-called “collaborators of justice” have also been successfully employed to collect evidence for trials on terrorism and organized crime.

Furthermore, a Financial Security Committee was established in 2001 within the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance with a key role in the implementation of UN Security Council’s sanctions against terrorist networks. Finally, the Committee on Anti-terrorism Strategic Analysis, established within the Ministry of the Interior, coordinates the work of the various law-enforcement agencies and intelligence services. The Committee draws on a network of security experts in different sectors, including: drug trafficking; national and international databases; cultural heritage and natural resource protection; and trafficking in cultural property. To better fight trafficking in cultural property, in late 2015 Italy established the Task Force UNITE4HERITAGE of the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The Task Force also works to counter interlinkages between illegal trafficking in cultural property and the financing of terrorism. (@OnuItalia)