Middle Eastern Criminal Enterprises
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we have taken a new look at the various threats originating in the Middle East and from Middle Eastern communities in the U.S. Contrary to a prevailing notion prior to 9/11, the FBI and law enforcement in general have come to recognize that some Middle Eastern criminal groups have no nexus to terror. Instead, these groups have the same goals as any traditional organized crime ring—to make money through illegal activities.
The groups have been active in the U.S. since the 1970s in areas with significant Middle Eastern or Southwest Asian populations. These organizations are typically loosely organized theft or financial fraud rings formed along familial or tribal lines. They typically use small storefronts as bases for criminal operations.
What kinds of crime schemes do these enterprises engage in? Many kinds: automobile theft, financial fraud, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolen property, smuggling, drug trafficking, document fraud, health care fraud, identity fraud, cigarette smuggling, and the theft and redistribution of infant formula. These enterprises rely on extensive networks of international criminal associates and can be highly sophisticated in their criminal operations. Organizations often engage in joint criminal ventures with one another.
In the U.S., Middle Eastern Criminal Enterprises are most prevalent in Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and New York. Internationally, they thrive in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada.
Middle Eastern Criminal Enterprises include criminals from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.