Terrorism and the groups carrying out terrorist offences have evolved significantly over the last decade. The EU has been the target of repeated terror attacks and plots in recent years. The investigations into the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, carried out in March 2016 and November 2015 respectively, uncovered the involvement of some of the perpetrators in different types of serious and organised crime including the trafficking of illicit drugs, as well as personal contacts with criminal groups involved in the trafficking of firearms and production of fraudulent documents.

Recent investigations have revealed that terrorist groups have made use of migrant smuggling networks to allow their operatives to enter the EU. However, these cases do not suggest that terrorist groups maintain sustained engagement with OCGs involved in migrant smuggling.

The profit-driven nature of organised crime activities is in many cases incompatible with terrorist acts, which attract a great degree of media and law enforcement attention to the perpetrators.

The pursuit of criminal activities in support of terrorist activities is not a new phenomenon. However, the involvement of suspects with extensive criminal backgrounds and access to the resources and tools of organised crime networks in terrorism is particularly threatening in light of the fast pace of radicalisation and willingness to very quickly engage in terrorist attacks following the beginning of the radicalisation process.

The threat emanating from links between serious and organised crime and terrorism is two-fold. Firstly, the potential exploitation of OCG infrastructures to procure tools, such as firearms or fraudulent documents, and move goods and people may deliver lethal weapons used in attacks in the EU to terrorist groups. Secondly, involvement in serious and organised crime may allow terrorist actors to generate funds to finance terrorism-related activities.

The suspects are involved in various crime areas including money laundering, migrant smuggling, heroin and firearms trafficking, organised property crime and THB. These suspects are typically involved at a low level in organised crime and do not fill major roles within organised crime networks.