Terrorism, Organized Crime, and Social Distress

  • Robert W. Rieber
Part of the Path in Psychology book series (PATH)


In the aftermath of the bombings of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City and the federal building in Oklahoma City, newspapers published maps showing the radius of potential destruction from such blasts. The ballistic results were frightening as were other scenarios concocted about attacks on the vulnerable infrastructure of bridges, subways, buildings, and tunnels.1


Organize Crime Money Laundering World Trade Center International Crime Oklahoma City 
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    Discussions on the trials of the World Trade Center bombers, their organization and objectives, may be found in Robert J. Kelly, “The Politics of Atrocity and the Cult of Counterterrorism,” Parts I and II, Magazin für die Polizei, 23(198,199) (Oct./Nov. 1992) and R. J. Kelly, “Guilty: The Verdict against Terror in the World Trade Center Bombing,” Magazin für die Polizei, 25 (July/August 1994).Google Scholar
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    When Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia two years ago he planned to travel by train from Vladivostok in the East to Moscow in order to get a feel of the mood of the country. Somewhere east of the Urals in the Donets region, racketeers stopped the train demanding a “fee.” It was only through the intervention of high officials and the mobilization of regional police that he was able to proceed unmolested by extortionists.Google Scholar
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    In this connection, Aristotle has some useful insight. Commenting on types of government and the character of leaders, he says: When speaking of royalty we also spoke of two forms of tyranny, which are both according to law, and therefore easily pass into royalty. Among Barbarians there are elected monarchs who exercise a despotic power; despotic rulers were also elected in ancient Hellas, called Aesymnetes or dictators. There monarchies, when compared with one another, exhibit certain differences. And they are, as I said before, royal, in so far as the monarch rules according to law over willing subjects; but they are tyrannical in so far as he is despotic and rules according to his own fancy. There is also a third kind of tyranny, which is the most typical form, and is the counterpart of the perfect monarchy. This tyranny is just that arbitrary power of an individual which is responsible to no one, and governs all alike, whether equals or better, with a view to its own advantage, not to that of its subjects, and therefore against their will. No freeman, if he can escape from it, will endure such a government. The kinds of tyranny are such and so many, and for the reasons for which I have given. (Aristotle, The Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1941) II, 219.Google Scholar
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    In looking for parallels with the right-wing militia movements spreading in rural white America, mainly in the states west of the Mississippi, some similarities with urban groups are apparent. First, the wariness of federal law enforcement agencies (FBI, ATF) and the criticism of their high-handedness in dealing with ordinary citizens are matched by community suspicions and misgivings about local police forces in the racial ghettos of most large American cities. Second, in addition to the fear promoted by law enforcement the motives behind the formation of the movement may be no different in essence than those that led to urban crime families and street gangs; in short, the Arizona Patriots and Michigan Militia are matched, as it were, by the Crips and Bloods of Los Angeles.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Rieber
    • 1
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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