Corruption and terrorism | Farrukh Saleem


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First things first. On April 21, General Raheel Sharif broke the status quo on corruption. On March 11 2015, General Raheel Sharif broke the status quo on Karachi. On June 15 2014, General Raheel Sharif broke the status quo on North Waziristan. Imagine, a victorious general with no lust for power and a squeaky clean reputation has now thrown down the gauntlet. On April 22, the PM, walking on thin ice, responded: One, no one can give me lessons on morality. Two, accountability should begin from 1947. Three, the masses should hold Imran Khan liable. Four, the army is also culpable. Five, the media is being nonchalant.

Now the topic of the day. Corruption and terrorism are interlinked. According to the secretary-general of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “corruption….facilitates terrorism” and “corruption hampers countries’ ability to fight terrorism”.

On April 14, Admiral (r) John Kirby, spokesperson of the US Department of State, was asked: “Sir, the political parties in Pakistan have launched a campaign against PM Sharif to resign after the accusations of corruption in [the] Panama Papers….will the US support the democratic elected PM of Pakistan, or [do] you want to see the corrupt leader go home?” Reply: “The secretary has been very clear about the dangers of corruption…and what that does to fuel extremism and to increase economic instability…. So corruption is something we obviously take very seriously……”

On April 19, General Raheel Sharif said, there “cannot be…enduring peace and stability unless the menace of corruption is not uprooted. Therefore, across-the-board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan.”

According to Ashraf Rifi, minister of justice of Lebanon and president of the Arab network for strengthening the integrity and the fight against corruption, “Terrorists benefit from corruption and promote it in order to finance their activities….. Terrorism and corruption are feeding each other.”

According to the secretary-general of the OECD, “Identifying connections between corruption and terrorism and the means to break them is crucial to fighting terrorism.” The secretary-general continues that there are four connections between corruption and terrorism. One, corruption helps terrorist funding. Two, corruption facilitates terrorist attacks. Three, corruption and terrorism financing share methods to hide money. Four, corruption and poor governance undermine the fight against terrorism.

The OECD, in its analysis on offshore companies, says: “Traffickers, corrupt politicians, and terrorists need ways to raise, move, conceal and spend money. One of their main means is the use of anonymous ‘shell companies’. Security experts and law enforcement officials all agree that shell companies, or other forms of legal entities like trusts, pose a threat to national security… and can be ideal vehicles for terrorist financing.”

How does corruption hamper a country’s ability to fight terrorism? According to the OECD, “State institutions weakened by engrained and deep-seated corruption are not only less effective in fighting terrorism but are also vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist groups. Corruption in institutions such as the army, the police and the judiciary and in the defense sector is of great concern…”

How does corruption facilitate terrorism? According to the OECD, “Terrorist groups may seek funding through crimes out of financial necessity or because the potential profits associated with the criminal activity are too attractive to ignore. Terrorist may also be involved in some forms of criminal activities not only as a source of financing but also for logistics purposes in the context of terrorist attacks.”

How does corruption contribute to terrorist financing? According to the OECD, “Although awareness of corruption, organized crime and terrorist financing has been growing in recent years, the linkages and resonances between these three forms of behaviour may not be sufficiently acknowledged.”

The secretary-general concludes: One, corruption is a national security threat. Two, criminals and terrorists use similar tactics to reach their separate operational objectives. Three, the fact is that like criminal organisations, terrorists also engage in a range of activities that are greatly facilitated by corruption. Four, corruption is the ‘enabling technology’ that makes many terrorist crimes possible.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: