The Convergence of Terrorism and Organised Crime: An Examination of Hezbollah’s Activities in Latin America from a Crime-Terror Nexus Perspective

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Although crime and terrorism are not new phenomena, the nexus between the two has raised concerns in the last decades. Since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent decline in state sponsorship of terrorism, the convergence of terrorist and organised criminal groups has been a method of producing revenue and maintaining support for terrorist causes. After the end of the Cold War, the increasing number of weak and failed states, along with the developments within the communication and technological world, changed the nature of these relations, as the crime-terror nexus became a growing threat to the international community.

In light of growing interest in the crime-terror nexus, this thesis utilises this concept to understand the relationship between state-sponsored terrorist organisations and organised criminal groups, focusing on Hezbollah’s activities in the Tri-Border Area of Latin America. Since its inception, Hezbollah has been supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nevertheless, over the years, due to the impact of sanctions imposed by the international community, Iran has reduced its funding capabilities, and as a result, Hezbollah has expanded its criminal enterprises. By assessing Hezbollah’s involvement in a crime-terror nexus from a necessity versus opportunity perspective, this thesis argues that Hezbollah has encountered greater restrictions to access the economic resources it needs, which has justified its collaboration with criminal organisations. The Tri-Border Area allows Hezbollah to engage in criminal entrepreneurship due to certain characteristics that deem the area “a black hole”. Therefore, using Hezbollah in the Tri-Border Area as a case study, this thesis presents an extension of the “black hole syndrome” and argues that this can develop outside of fragile or failed states and that there are certain characteristics that can deem any area “a black hole” where the crime-terror nexus can successfully develop. Using qualitative data gathered from primary sources, this thesis explores the underlying incentives that drive state-sponsored terrorist organisations into a crime-terror nexus, as well as the conditions that enable the crime-terror nexus to develop and flourish.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorDavid McIlhatton (Supervisor), Rachel Monaghan (Supervisor) & David Curran (Supervisor)

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