Author Biography

Colin P. Clarke is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, where his research focuses on insurgency/counterinsurgency, unconventional/irregular/asymmetric warfare (including cyber) and a range of other national and international security issues and challenges. At the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, he is an affiliated scholar with research interests related to transnational terrorism and violent non-state actors. He is an associate with New York University’s Center for Global Affairs (CGA) Initiative on the Study of Emerging Threats (ISET). At Carnegie Mellon University, Clarke is a Lecturer in the Institute for Politics & Strategy (IPS) and teaches courses on U.S. Grand Strategy and Insurgency & Terrorism. Clarke is the author of Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare (Praeger Security International, 2015).



Subject Area Keywords

Gangs and criminal organizations, Irregular warfare, Law enforcement, Narcotics trafficking, Nonstate actors, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Transnational crime


To date, much of the literature on the financing of terrorism and insurgency has focused at the macro-level on groups involved in financing their organizations through involvement in the drug trade. This paper discusses some of those implications, but argues that to better understand the threat faced by the new generation of jihadists in the West, security forces and intelligence services must also look at the micro-level of how lower level trafficking, drug dealing and petty criminal activity, combined with prison radicalization and ties to the black market and illicit underworld, combine to present a new spin on a longstanding threat. To be sure, the micro-level is even more difficult to counter, given already poor community-police cooperation and relations in the marginalized communities throughout the West. Further, the threat from drug trafficking at the micro-level can be equally as nefarious, as smaller cells are given greater autonomy to finance plots, recruit new members and ultimately conduct attacks in developed democracies. The paper concludes with some policy recommendations geared toward helping host-nations build capacity in critical areas, including law enforcement and intelligence, from the local to the state to the federal level.


The analysis and opinions contained in this article are those of the author solely and do not represent the analysis and opinions of The RAND Corporation or any of the other institutions or organizations he is affiliated with.