'Crime-Terror Nexus from Below' awarded ESRC funding

Over the past eight years, Tripoli has experienced a significant rise in violence. The progressive merger of criminal and terrorist groups has led to an increase in Transnational Organised Crime. In particular, this has disproportionately affected the neighbourhoods of Qobbe, Bab al-Tebbaneh and Mankoubin. Preliminary research, based on figures from the Lebanese Interior Ministry, shows that two-thirds of Tripolitans arrested for terrorism-related charges in 2016-17 were from one of these three districts.

Dr Lefèvre's three-year project will focus on Transnational Organised Crime in Lebanon’s second-largest city as a case study. By exploring the factors and processes behind this issue in marginalised communities, the research aims to:

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  • Improve our understanding of Transnational Organised Crime
  • Raise awareness of the links between Transnational Organised Crime and extremism, and its increasing entwinement in Tripolitan neighbourhoods
  • Assess the impact of gangsterism beyond Tripoli.

However, the true value of this project lies in its unprecedented interdisciplinary focus. Alongside Dr Lefevre’s specialism in political science, his Co-Investigator, Professor Caroline Rooney (University of Kent), brings expertise in postcolonial theory. Her focus on the cultural anthropology of criminality will strengthen the conclusions of the project to produce world-leading research.

Dr Lefèvre's broad research interests focus on the changing nature of Sunni Islamism in the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Levant. His upcoming book, Jihad in the City: Militant Islam and Urban Dissent in Tripoli, will be published by Cambridge University Press in the next year.

Dr Raphaël Lefèvre is Rank-Manning Junior Research Fellow in Social Sciences (New College); Tutor in Middle East Politics