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Jeff Fiorito


Thesis title:

Countering the Crime - Terror Nexus: Do international intervention policies designed to control the narcotics trade enhance or impede government efforts against terrorism?

Supervisors: Dr Peter Lehr and Dr Robert Lambert

Thesis Summary

The crime - terror nexus of narcotics traffickers and terrorists is a phenomenon that has been discussed for several decades. While there exists widespread agreement that the violent non-state actors and criminal narcotics organizations share similar characteristics and cooperate, there is a great deal of disagreement regarding strategies to combat these two when they occur simultaneously.

In the current case of Afghanistan, where the international community has been engaged in both counterinsurgency and counternarcotics campaigns for over a decade, the effects have not been as successful as was once hoped. The recent Global Terrorism Index Report indicating terrorists acts are again on the rise is complicated by the release of the recent UN report which revealed that opium-poppy cultivation levels are at another all-time high.

The aim of this study will be to bring current data and lessons learned from narcotics funded terrorism in Columbia and Afghanistan into the conversation, and to explore the effects of the international intervention policies in these two regions. By updating and extending existing research through interviews with anti-narcotic and military practitioners, as well as residents of affected zones, this research will analyze the effects of international counternarcotics intervention policies on military efforts against violent extremism. With these analyses, the author will draw conclusions regarding the effects of the current policies relative to both sets of goals.

Much of the research will be original, relying greatly on fieldwork to be conducted by the researcher in the Putumayo region of South America.


Retired from the US Army after 20 years of service, Jeff spent the majority of his military career in Special Forces training and advising US and foreign military personnel. A veteran of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars, his last assignment was as an advisor to the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan in Kabul.

In his civilian career, Jeff spent ten years with international consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, headquartered in McLean, Virginia. His primary business focus was international training program management, advising government clients regarding military training policy and project management.

Jeff holds Bachelor’s of Government from Campbell University in North Carolina, a Master’s of International Service from American University in Washington, DC, and a Graduate Certificate of Project Management from Georgetown University, also in Washington, DC.

Academic Experience

Jeff has held several adjunct faculty positions: Assistant Lecturer at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC; Lecturer at University of Maryland University College in Kabul, Afghanistan; and Visiting Instructor at School of the Americas – later renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation – at Fort Benning, Georgia. He has also worked as an Academic Management Specialist at the Scoala de Maistri Militari si Subofiteri (Military Academy of NCOs & Warrant Officers) in Pitesti, Romania.