Would the Mafia, either as it exists now or as it existed in the days of Murder, Inc., qualify as a terrorist organization? It uses force and intimidation to further its ends, it has political aims (subordinate to its profit motive), and it has a structure and a kind of leadership. Is that enough?
I think you would have a hard time proving that the Mafia had/has “political” aims. Any involvement that organized crime has in politics is usually undertaken to prevent interference with the Mafia’s money-making activities. For that reason, I would say that the Mafia is/was NOT a terrorist group. I think it’s all about the Benjamins for the boys o’ the black hand.
In a specific sense, yes - the mafia uses “terror” systematically as a means of coercion. However…
I think you hit the nail on the head there. The mafia’s political aims exist only to guarantee and extend profits. Political power is a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
Greenpeace is listed as a terrorist group by the US government.
The most obvious trait of a terrorist organization is not its political aims. It is that terrorists murder innocent people for the shock value.
The Mafia never did that. I’m sure they killed a few bystanders, but then the Crips and Bloods would be terrorists too if that were the definition of a terrorst.
The Mafia was only in it for the money. They lost their power when their products; alcohol, gambling, and prostitution became legal. OK, technically prostitution is still illegal, but who cares?
For some reason I think this is funny as hell. I’m just imagining a bunch of guys out on a boat somewhere trying to PO whalers, and then imagining them on the same list with the IRA and the PLO somewhere in NSA headquarters.
Ha ha ha ha! Our government at work, ladies and gentlemen.
They never killed or assaulted people for refusing to pay protection money?
They’ve still got their hands in gambling, drugs, and the protection racket.
I actually agree with this. Last I heard, Greenpeace was bombing oil rigs and trying to sink whaling ships. But that is really a GD topic tangental to this thread.
How many IRA leaders (upper echelon types, not the ones lobbing grenades) would have been in the group had there never been any profits associated with running it? Terrorist groups may well be associated with politics but that never precludes their acceptance of money in exchange for hostages.
BTW, the Mafia, in the olden days, was all about politics. It was founded to give justice to Sicilians when Sicily was under French rule. Its name is an acronym, and it translates to something along the lines of “Death to all French is Italy’s cry!”, but in Italian. Does that affect things?
In 1993, after the Sicilian Mafia suffered from a crackdown (following an unexpected change in government), it resorted to out-and-out terrorist methods.
[li]March 1993 - car-bomb in Parioli, a wealthy suburb of Rome, injures 23[/li][li]March 1993 - bomb in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, kills six[/li][li]July 1993 - three car-bombs in Rome and Milan kill five[/li][/ul]
(source: A Dishonoured Society, John Follain (1995))
My guess is that the clans have yet to resort to such tactics in the US purely because they do not have the same “penetration” or face out-and-out offensives by the US Government.
I’m not convinced by that explanation. According to the book I mentioned above, the first official mention is in a 1658 document containing a list of heretics converted by the Act of Faith. In Palermo it originally meant “beauty, self-confidence, pride, graciousness and excellence” – a beautiful girl had della mafia, and might be called mafiusa. In Tuscany it meant poverty; in Piedmont it meant individual.
A widely-believed theory is that the word is derived from Arabic, during the Arab control of Sicily between 827 and 1061 - mahias (daring, impudent), ma afir (a Saracen tribe controlling Palermo), maha (stone grottoes near Marsala where fugitives sought refuge), or a mu’ afah (an association administering private justice) - itself a combination of mu’ (health, vigour, strength) and afah (to persevere and protect).
Today’s meaning was certainly understood by the mid-1800s, when plays about mobsters toured Italy and officials in Palermo reported on the criminal organisation.
Damn. I’m the victim of spurious etymology. Hey, it made sense at the time. Thanks for setting me straight. But the word still includes in its roots mu’afah-an organization administering private justice. So perhaps I was right about the group’s origins but not the word’s.
I think you might be right there, Derleth. In the 1800s there were *compagnie d’armi set up to maintain law and order in Sicily when the Bourbon rulers proved a bit useless. A lot of these armed groups turned to crime to supplement their income. Similarly, wealthy landowners used armed groups (campieri) to protect their estates, and these usually evolved into organised criminal gangs exploiting the workers.
Bugger that for coding.
I think you might be right there, Derleth. In the 1800s there were compagnie d’armi set up to maintain law and order in Sicily when the Bourbon rulers proved a bit useless. A lot of these armed groups turned to crime to supplement their income. Similarly, wealthy landowners used armed groups (campieri) to protect their estates, and these usually evolved into organised criminal gangs exploiting the workers.
*Originally posted by Derleth *
I actually agree with this. Last I heard, Greenpeace was bombing oil rigs and trying to sink whaling ships. But that is really a GD topic tangental to this thread.**
Can you substantiate what you “heard”, Derleth, cos it’s contrary to all my knowledge and experience ?