KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE, BUT YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER: THE ITALIAN MAFIA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH ISIS AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION'S DEFENSE STRATEGIES.

Author:Ball, Alexander
 
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  1. INTRODUCTION

    Since the 1860s, the Mafia has imbedded itself in the history of Italy, changing the trajectory of the country's social and political growth. (1) In the years since its establishment, the multiple Mafia groups in Italy have entrenched themselves in the country, leading to a thriving black market and a corrupt and fractured government. (2) In the early 2000s, across the Mediterranean Sea, another organized group emerged in the wake of the United States' War on Terror, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). (3) Over the past few years, the Italian Mafia began to partner with ISIS through the black market trade, bringing up the question of whether these two organizations are merely business partners or ideologically compatible organizations. (4) Italy must use its Antimafia policies and prosecution efforts to suppress terrorism in its country and the European Union. (5) In order for there to be a real resolution, Europe will need to come up with joint-legislation to attempt to stop the spread of ISIS in Europe. (6)

    This Note explores Italy's relationship with ISIS and the unfolding partnership between the Islamic State and the various Italian Mafia Organizations. (7) Part II will discuss the history of the Mafia in Italy, as well as the recent growth of ISIS. (8) Part III will look into ISIS's effect on the country today, the two organizations' relationship, and present dealings. (9) Part IV will look into Italy's current Antimafia policies and how these policies are essential to help develop new globalized policies to help combat ISIS and the Mafia, while also building stable states in the region. (10) Finally, Part V concludes in highlighting the need to implement Italy's Antimafia policies on a larger scale in order to diminish terrorism throughout the entire European Union. (11)

  2. HISTORY

    1. The Mafia in Italy

      The island of Sicily and southern Italy have a storied history of dealing with foreign intruders and handling internal struggle. (12) Starting in 1812, Parliament abolished the feudal system in Sicily causing a modernization period where the social classes violently clashed as its citizens looked to establish a new social class. (13) Citizens with common interests banded together, forming clans or families in order to protect their villages and enforce their own forms of law and order. (14) These clans or families would exploit the violent conditions in southern Italy to extort its people, eventually developing into the criminal organizations known today. (15) The four main Italian criminal organizations are the Sicilian Mafia (La Cosa Nostra), the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, the Campanian Camorra, and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia; each has its own identity, but collectively they are known as the "Mafia." (16)

      In 1861, Italy unified all of its separate regions and though it was considered a united country, it still struggled to form a centralized government, as each local administration carried a great deal of power. (17) The developing country of Italy backed the early mafia groups as they were extremely powerful and any attempt to oppose them resulted in failure. (18) These groups continued to grow until the 1920s when Benito Mussolini came to power, as he saw the Mafia as a threat to his regime. (19) Following World War II, the Mafia flourished because of a weak postwar state and through the subsequent building boom, it entrenched itself in various legal businesses, while still maintaining a hold over these regions by providing protection, work, and stability in the area. (20) Throughout the years following the war, the Italian Mafia expanded into the illicit black market and developed the drug trade in this part of Europe, as well as drove competition amongst groups in this area. (21)

    2. The Development of ISIS

      ISIS declared itself the Caliphate over the Muslim world creating a borderless empire primarily in western Iraq and eastern Syria, but with smaller provinces all across the world. (22) Following the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003, thousands of Sunni soldiers, formerly loyal to Saddam Hussein, banded together with jihadists of Al-Qaeda to form Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). (23) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi started this group capitalizing off of the Sunnis anger in order to ignite a sectarian war against the Shia population in Iraq and combat the American forces within the country. (24) Concurrently, as the war in Iraq dissipated, the Arab Spring turned into civil war in Syria and AQI began to establish its presence in this area. (25) Al-Zarqawi was killed in an American airstrike, and Abu Ayyub al-Masri succeeded him and then rebranded the group as the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). (26) Al-Masri and leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were then killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the new leader of ISI. (27)

      Owing to its continued presence in the Syrian civil war, ISI absorbed an Al-Qaeda-backed group in Syria, Jubhat al-Nusra, effectively forming a group now known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. (28) ISIS began to gain traction and control in both Syria and Iraq as jihadists from across the world travelled to join the fight. (29) In February 2014, Al-Qaeda renounced its ties to ISIS after an internal struggle persisted between the groups. (30) In June of 2014, ISIS declared the creation of the Caliphate, or the Islamic State, and made Al-Baghdadi, the Caliph, or leader, of the Muslim world. (31) Consequently, ISIS captured strong points throughout Iraq and Syria and demanded that all Muslims pledge themselves to their cause. (32) Though there has been some deterioration in ISIS's Caliphate in 2017, countless extremist groups that still remain have pledged allegiance to ISIS, gaining the organization notoriety through viral social media campaigns and terrorist attacks across the globe. (33)

    3. Italy's Antimafia Policy

      Italy has fought with the Mafia for longer than it has been a unified republic, making it no stranger to formulating policies and prosecuting organizations that are involved in crime and terror. (34) Since the 1960s, the Italian Parliament has had an Antimafia Commission organized to handle the Mafia issue and develop legislation to combat this ever growing problem. (35) The Commission's 1963 legislation titled "Dispositions Against the Mafia" marked the first time that the word "mafia" was used in legislation. (36) This Commission and ensuing legislation was the start of a fight against the Mafia, which has adapted and grown since its inception. (37) Owing to Italy's long history of dealing with the Mafia, the government has already enacted many terror policies that revolve around aggressive surveillance, wiretapping, and the prosecution of violent suspects. (38) Though Italy has had its fair share of political violence, it has evaded major terrorist attacks over the past thirty years, which many officials have associated with their Antimafia legislation. (39)

    4. Italy's Relationship with the European Union

      Italy, having supported the unification of Europe for decades, first joined the European Union in January 1999. (40) When the European Union was formed, the countries understood that globalization would mean the group as a whole would need to share problems collectively. (41) Despite having the third largest economy in the European Union, Italy has a history of a weak central government. (42) The Mafia is a global threat, as many of these organizations are transnational groups with a presence all over Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. (43)

  3. FACTS

    1. Thriving on Terror: The Development of Unlikely Partners

      1. The Black-Market Dealings Between the Mafia and ISIS

        The Mediterranean Sea acts as a strategic environment for two groups: the Italian Mafia in southern Italy and the Islamic State in Africa and Asia. (44) The various mafia groups have a strong presence in the black market in Europe, while ISIS has an expanding position in northern Africa and southwest Asia. (45) Though these groups appear to have differing ideologies and agendas, they appear to have found a middle ground, developing a coexistence in order to maintain power in their relative regions. (46) The full extent of ISIS's and the Mafia's relationship is yet to be determined, and that leaves uncertainty about the degree of concern that the Italian officials should have when considering how to combat these two cooperating parties. (47)

        The Mafia used the current migrant crisis to exploit the turmoil in Italy and grow ties with other radical organizations, such as the Islamic State. (48) Italian authorities uncovered that some of Italy's major refineries from Puglia to Venice had quantities of oil exceeding their limitations, and believe that ISIS-affiliated organizations helped to smuggle in excess oil from countries such as Libya and Syria. (49) This led Italian authorities to believe that oil is coming from ISIS-controlled refineries in these countries, but authorities find it difficult to shut down these operations. (50) The growing number of migrants travelling into Europe allows the Mafia to exploit the crisis and broaden its connections across the Mediterranean Sea, as government officials are inundated with high numbers of immigrants travelling into Italy. (51) The oil trade between the Mafia and ISIS is leaving Italy with difficulties, as law enforcement agents struggle to tie the two groups together and face an uphill battle to prosecute the organizations involved. (52)

        As ISIS struggles to control its physical territory, ISIS expanded its presence internationally through its teachings, practices, and black market trade. (53) ISIS found a need to pursue new means of revenue streams going beyond oil smuggling and extortion, now venturing into the drug trade. (54) This led to the development of new smuggling routes from northern Africa and western Asia that cross through Sicily and Mafia controlled territory. (55) The two groups are using...

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