Hezbollah’s global tentacles: A relational approach to convergence with transnational organized crime

Christian Leuprecht, Olivier Walther, David Skillicorn, Hillary Ryde-Collins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    That terrorists, criminals, and their facilitators exploit the global marketplace is well known. While the global movement of illicit goods is well documented, robust empirical evidence linking terrorism and organized crime remains elusive. This article posits Network Science as a means of making these links more apparent. As a critical case study, Hezbollah is quite possibly the most mature globalized terrorist organization, although it thinks of itself as the “Party of God.” However, the means seem to justify the ends: this article shows that Hezbollah’s holy men have no qualms about resorting to pornography, contraband cigarettes, immigration fraud, and credit card fraud to raise funds. Beyond establishing links, Social Network Analysis reveals other important characteristics, such as the relative autonomy from Hezbollah headquarters that local fundraising networks enjoy. That finding implies a paradigm shift: Hezbollah is no less a terrorist organization than an organized crime syndicate. This is apparent in a network’s structure. Transnational Organized Crime is typically about nodes being connected to many others in the network. Yet, Hezbollah fundraising networks allow such connectivity because of the group’s typically high levels of mutual trust and familial relationships. This creates a vulnerability that can be exploited by law enforcement and intelligence organizations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)902-921
    Number of pages20
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2017


    • Hezbollah
    • Organized crime
    • Social network analysis
    • Terrorist financing


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