Monday, March 09, 2009
Northern Ireland attack: terrorism, criminality or a new blend?
"They really don't have a lot of support but can randomly cause problems in terms of assasinations, bombings, etc.," is the assessment of my colleague Elena Mastors, a professor of national security studies at the Naval War College and a terrorism expert. This is not a large group, perhaps numbering no more than 500.
And others have wondered whether the Real IRA is not more akin to an organized crime group that carries out "political" attacks from time to time to try and legitimize its existence. After all, law enforcement sources indicate that the Real IRA has been involved in smuggling, kidnapping, robbery and extortion operations.
This does seem to be a growing worldwide trend, where the stark dividing line between political and criminal groups is fading away. We have seen this in Colombia, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And I worried last week whether this is a trend manifested by the assassination of the president of Guinea-Bissau.
On a side note for consideration, then: is this a sufficient trend to warrant retaining the Homeland Security Council as a separate interagency body, rather than devolving its functions back to the National Security Council?
Worry about violence and instability in US first.