1. Dissertation Topic : Terrorism
2. Working Title of Research Project: Terrorism: It’s Impact on Economic Growth of Small Island Caribbean Economies.
3. Brief Synopsis
The economies of the Caribbean Islands have over years emerged to be a popular destination for tourists from Europe and North America (de Oliveira Santos, 2014). The region hosts millions of tourist every year, an aspect that has led to the development of infrastructure and amenities such as luxury hotels, beaches, expansion of financial sector, and entertainment joints (Miller, 2005; 639). These facilities have become a key pull factor for Europeans and North America tourists. Nevertheless, experts have expressed fear that the appeal of the idyllic islands has exposed the Caribbean region to global terrorism (Jessop, 2015). One key target linked to Western nations is the presence of American and European tourists. Recent revelations have highlighted that terror groups are targeting tourist facilities after the Libyan killings. The approach seeks to spark a bioterror pandemic by attacking tourists in controlled environments such as ships, hotels and air carriers using Variola major and Bacillus anthracis.
The reality of attacks is real with Americans and Britons being advised by their embassies not to use Caribbean Airlines because of the potential terror threat in recent years (Mail Online, 2014). Attacking cruise ships as well as airlines and executing a weapon of mass destruction will result in extensive loss of lives, as the case of 9/11 attack. Many Caribbean islands also play host to offshore universities like medical schools, vet school with thousands of US nationals, an aspect that will remain a pull factor for terrorists.
One key element that makes Caribbean economies more vulnerable to global terrorism is a weak security structure (Jessop, 2015). The region is characterized by poor policing mechanisms, lack of coordinated intelligence and relatively unsophisticated security apparatus. The weakness of the criminal justice system in addressing global threats is highlighted by a thriving drug trafficking industry, an aspect that ISIS seeks to utilize. In a bid to strengthen its position in global matters, Daesh has been exporting terror to far nations. In his article Financial Times, editor Sam Jones an experienced scholar in transnational threats notes that ISIS is strategizing on establishing new areas and expanding the cyber program (Jones, 2015).
In this plan, Caribbean nations have become a recruiting ground for ISIS (Cbsnews.com, 2016). For instance, the security agencies in Trinidad and Tobago have revealed that an estimated 130 of its citizens together with their family are in Syria (Fox News Insider, 2015). ISIS media materials have also shown individuals such as Abu Mansour al-Muhajir from Twin Countries and Abu Zayd al-Muhajir, a Trinidadian urging Muslims from the Caribbean to join them in fighting infidels (Kissoon, 2015). Security agencies have also established that citizens from Caribbean nations have been radicalized while serving jail terms in foreign countries (Chossudovsky, 2015). Such development would pose a terrorism threat to motherland countries if these individuals returned with extremist ideologies (Sputniknews.com, 2015).
Although the principal targets are the West and North America, Central America is strategic in the execution of the plan because of its connection with the target countries (Baron, 2015). Terrorist organizations want to utilize existing illegal drugs trade in the region as well as the porous borders and poor policing (Camacho, 2013). For instance, following enhanced surveillance system after the Paris attacks, individuals of Syrian origin were also arrested in St. Maarten in French territories (Gould and Rahman, 2015). Intelligence revealed that the individuals had visited several countries with minimal suspicion.
Another weakness in the region is a complacent foreign policy (Loop News, 2015). All governments in the Caribbean region have adopted isolationism, an approach that is informed by postulation that global scares such as terrorism can only affect and destabilize large economies (Smith, 2015). However, weakness in this assertion has already been highlighted with the current trends in international relations where terrorism is affecting all economies. Another key weak point in the Caribbean is a vulnerable financial market that has made the economies a transit area in the international drug trade and money laundering activities. Experts fear that the sector may become a target for terrorist activities in a bid to raise and mobilize resources.
For years, Caribbean nations have adopted an isolationism approach to global scares. The foreign policy is informed by a theorized institutionalism approach where the economies see security issues as concerns of dominant economies in international politics. However, the ISIS strategies have highlighted the inadequacies in the premise. In recent months, the group has utilized its subtle recruiting tactics to win hearts of many Caribbean Muslims and establish a recruiting network that is coexisting with the criminal gangs. Many experts feel that Caribbean Islands are a critical target because of its connection with the West Europe and the U.S. The events are a wake-up call to the agencies and policymakers in the region to restructure the systems and formulate adaptable security policies.
4. Research Problem
One of the key features of the Caribbean region is the complex interaction of cultures from Africa, Asia, and Europe, an aspect that is of significant attraction to tourists and visitors and of critical importance to scholars and adventurers. The pull factor is further complemented by beautiful landscapes and geographical features. The nations have exploited the environmental and sociocultural diversity to develop amenities and infrastructures that have allowed it to outdo competition from other regions actively engaging and notably dependent on tourism such as the Middle East and North and East Africa. Also important to mention is the political stability, socialcultural and religious tranquillity enjoyed in the Caribbean region. This is relative to the political, sociocultural and religious instabilities that prescribe daily lives in other renowned tourist destinations of the world. The role of tourism is highlighted by the decision by nations such as Aruba and Trinidad and Tobago to abandon oil exploration for tourism development (West, 2002). According to recent World Bank economic reports, Caribbean countries have been classified as tourism-dependent economies.
The service industry contributes to 14.2 % of GDP, employs 11% of citizens, and is the biggest source of foreign exchange (Kennedy, 2016; Van Harssel, Jackson and Hudman, 2015). However, recent events have put the future of the tourism in a feeble position. The shift of global terrorism could cripple the tourism-dependent economies as witnessed in other renowned tourist destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Kenya (Salih, 2014; 143). Although these countries have diverse economies, the disruption of tourism sector by terrorism has negatively affected key aspects such as foreign exchange, employment, and performance of service delivery. The socioeconomic disruptions would result in a state of anarchy that would turn the Latin world to a breeding ground for terrorism.
Besides internal disruptions, the vulnerability of the Caribbean region would also have deleterious impacts on Canada and the United States. With the Caribbean region having a solid relationship with countries such as France, the U.K, and the U.S that are against Daesh operations, the region could become a secondary target for terrorism. People intending to engage in terrorist activities could exploit Citizenship-by-Investment program to be recognized as citizens of Caribbean countries and use the conveniences enjoyed by Caribbean citizen to shift to the North America undetected. Such was the case of St. Kitts and Nevis where citizens of the Caribbean country enjoyed visa free waiver, however, an Iranian born economic citizen of St Kitts and Nevis used the visa waiver privilege to access Canada, while and others using the new found citizenship privileges to circumvent United States Financial Sanctions imposed base on their country of birth.
However, the waiver has been revoked by Canada because of national security concerns. The US also had the same concern. This was expressed through Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, as lax controls were giving terrorists a safe harbour (program and Author, 2014). The arrest of 14 Syrians in Antigua & Barbuda in July 2015 also highlights far-reaching impacts of weak border control. The individuals were asylum seekers who wanted to enter the United States under the assistance of smuggling rings existing in the region (Antigua Observer, 2015). An attack on a cruise ship could also result in thousands of deaths, an aspect that could be hardest felt by American and European nations.
Terrorism elements in the Caribbean will thus have grave impacts on both internal and international aspects. This should inform engagement with global partners, enhanced intelligence collecting system, stringent banking policies, restructuring the prison and police department, as well as border control measures.
5. Aims of Research
The study will seek to describe the vulnerabilities and the impact of a terrorist attack on the economic growth of small island Caribbean fragile economies in most cases solely dependent on tourism. The study will seek to show what can lead to a terrorist attack such as mere proximity to the United States of America, tourism industry with most of the tourists from the United States and Europe, finance and banking sector and the United States currency Correspondent Bank with the recent trading limit with all correspondent banks in the Eastern Caribbean, offshore investments and the effect of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), being efforts by the Unites States Government to curb money laundering and terror financing, offshore tertiary institutions of learning predominantly consisting of United States citizens and border patrol and existing security strategies that make the Caribbean nations vulnerable to terrorism. The study will also assess the capacity of existing systems in tracking concerns that pose a threat to security concerns and resulting effects on economic growth. The ultimate objective of the study is to identify weak points and provide recommendations that can seek to contain the current threat of terrorism to these fragile dependent economies of the region. Research questions to consider that will drive the research will include but not limited to
– Terrorism, is it a threat to Caribbean economies.
– Which sector of Caribbean economies are most vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
– Is it a real threat to the tourism sector in the Caribbean.
– What can be done to mitigate against a terrorist attack.
– What can be done to mitigate against the effect of terrorist attacks on the economic growth of Caribbean economies.
– What is terrorism in this regard- International terrorism
6. Research Design and Basic Data Collection Approach
The approach to the study to be conduct will be a library based, where literature reviews will be conducted. The research design will show the existing threats, weaknesses and vulnerabilities and how they can affect economic growth. Data will be collected from statistics, tax, government finance and planning offices and sustainable development offices of identified Caribbean countries to show linkages, contribution of tourism sector and other offshore institutions to economic growth.
The data collection approach will be to review and utilize existing stock of data from literature such as books, World Bank reports, Central Bank reports, journals, newspapers, and websites. However, the use of data will be strategic and carefully analyzed where only information significant to building on the proposed argument will be used.