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Fresh Air with Terry Gross, December 4, 2008: Interview with David Kaplan; Review of Talor Swift's new album "Fearless."


Fresh Air
12:00-1:00 PM
Behind The Terror: The Role Of Organized Crime


This is Fresh Air. I'm Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, filling in for Terry Gross. Officials in India say they are convinced the terrorist attack in Mumbai last week was planned by leaders of a well-known militant group in Pakistan called Lashkar-e-Taiba.

On Monday, the Indian government gave Pakistan a list of 20 suspects wanted in connection with earlier crimes demanding the Pakistanis turn them over. The list includes religious and political fanatics as well as organized crime figures. It provides a glimpse into a world in South Asia in which radical groups operating in remote areas increasingly work with crime syndicates to get weapons, launder money, and raise cash to fund their activities.

Our guest, veteran investigative reporter David Kaplan, wrote about international organized crime for over a decade at U.S. News and World Report. He uncovered links between crime syndicates and terrorist groups in a piece he wrote back in 2005. In it, he featured a man on India's list of suspects in the current attack, an Indian now believed to be living in Pakistan named Dawood Ibrahim. He's known as the don of Mumbai, a crime boss who controls smuggling routes for gold, narcotics, and weapons. In 2003, the American government officially named Dawood a terrorist, citing ties to al-Qaeda and to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group the Indian government suspects in the Mumbai attacks.

Kaplan is currently the editorial director at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. He's also the author of the books "Yakuza" and "The Cult at the End of the World." Well, David Kaplan, welcome to Fresh Air. Why don't you begin by just telling us what you know, or what we believe we know, about whom the Indian authorities suspect in the Mumbai attacks?

Mr. DAVID KAPLAN (Editorial Director, Central for Public Integrity; Author, "Yakuza" and "The Cult at the End of the World"): Well, this is the latest in a whole series of attacks on India and most of these are believed tied to militant Islamic groups who have mostly worked around and in the territory of Kashmir, which is a real hot-button issue in the region. This is really the most dramatic attack in many years. They've had attacks on their parliament. They've had attacks on trains, on public and private buildings, but to have 10 gunmen show up with automatic weapons and grenades in Bombay, or Mumbai as it's called now.

This is India's New York. This is their financial capital, and the place has been blooming lately. So, just to have people randomly appear and start literally mowing people down, it's been a shock to India. And I think to a lot of terrorism experts, it makes them wonder are we into a new wave of terrorism that may be low tech but just as disruptive.

DAVIES: And it's been widely reported that they are looking at groups based in Pakistan. Is there a particular group there they have in mind here?

Mr. KAPLAN: Yeah, fingers are most definitely pointing at one of the top militant groups involved in the Kashmir issue. It's called Lashkar-e-Taiba. Lashkar has been around for years, really since the late '80s, early '90s, but it's grown into a formidable organization in and of itself. It's been close to al-Qaeda for years, they speak the same language. Ideologically, these are Wahhabi, ideologically Wahhabi extremists, Sunni extremists. They believe in uniting the world under a radical Islamic sheet, and they view the Indians as heathens and occupiers and are waging a holy war.

DAVIES: Now, among 20 fugitives that India has demanded that Pakistan hand over is this character Dawood Ibrahim. Why would he be a name that would come up in this context? Why might they suspect him?

Mr. KAPLAN: Dawood is worth a whole book. This is a larger than life Al Capone-like character in South Asia. He's a household name in India and Pakistan. He's also the most wanted man in India, and he's got refuge in Pakistan. He's wanted for both organized crime and terrorist activities.

DAVIES: He's also wanted for another terrorist attack in Mumbai in 1993. What happened in that attack, and what do we know of Dawood Ibrahim's role?

Mr. KAPLAN: Well, it's been funny for me to hear commentators, both in India and the States, talk about how unprecedented this attack on Bombay is. In fact, something eerily similar happened in 1993, and this godfather, Dawood Ibrahim, was in back of it. Until '93, Dawood was really a local crime boss, and he'd become quite wealthy. He was the man to see in the slums and the streets of Bombay, controlled international gold smuggling and was involved in the drug business, extortion. He'd gone into Bollywood, India's sprawling film industry.

But after anti-Muslim riots in Bombay in '93, Dawood became a terrorist. He - from a base in Pakistan, he worked allegedly with ISI, Pakistan's Intelligence Agency, and brought hundreds of pounds of plastic explosive, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and really a whole arsenal of stuff and of guys who, just as we saw, wrecked havoc in about 10 different attacks across Bombay.

So in a real sense, we're seeing history repeat itself. And ever since then, he has been the most wanted man in India. And in fact, the U.S. is after him as well. We designated him - the U.S. designated him a global terrorist a few years ago, and there are investigations by both the FBI and DEA into this guy.

DAVIES: You mentioned that Dawood was affected by the anti-Muslim riots in 1993. Could you tell us a little bit more about those events?

Mr. KAPLAN: Yeah. Well, India's had a long history of Hindu-Muslim clashes, and things built to a head in '93 where there were riots in the city which is just - it's full of slums and high rises and low rises. It's just an extraordinary city where the tensions just exploded, and most of the animosity was directed at the Muslim population.

And I think nearly a thousand people, most of them Muslims, were killed, and this put Dawood Ibrahim over the edge. This was the city he had grown up in, his family, his extended family from overseas, from Dubai and then in Pakistan. He engineered a remarkably similar series of attacks in '93 where people lobbed grenades at public buildings and killed over 250 souls during just a day of carnage in the city. And now we sort of see history playing itself out again.

DAVIES: And it was after 1993, I believe, that he fled permanently to Pakistan, is that right? From India?

Mr. KAPLAN: He was actually in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which is kind of a modern day Casablanca. If you cover international crime and terrorism, it's kind of the old joke that all roads lead to - well, in this case, Dubai. It's the financial capital of the Middle East. It's really a relatively short flight from either Bombay, India's financial capital, or Karachi in Pakistan which are separated by, you know, years of animosity, but are culturally and commercially linked in so many ways. They're really sister cities.

And then there's this third leg of a criminal triangle, if you will, in Dubai because so much of the money and the goods go through there. This is where Dawood set up shop when he had to flee from India in the '80s. And had quite a time, he would throw these lavish parties where Indian film stars would mix with sports figures and Arab emirs. You had Bollywood figures. They would fix high-stakes gambling matches, cricket matches. And things finally got too hot for him in Dubai, and he ends up in Pakistan where he receives the official protection of Pakistani security agencies. And then he gets into terrorism.

DAVIES: We're speaking with David Kaplan. He is the editorial director for the Center for Public Integrity. We'll talk more after our break. This is Fresh Air.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If you're just joining us, our guest is veteran investigator of journalists David Kaplan. He is now the editorial director for the Center for Public Integrity. Describe Dawood Ibrahim to us. What does he look like? What's his style?

Mr. KAPLAN: Oh, he's kind of a stocky guy with dark eyes and dark hair, a mustache, likes sunglasses, one of eight sons of a struggling Bombay cop who never amounted to much. He started off as a petty crook in the slums of Bombay but very smart, very enterprising, worked his way up. And by the 1980s, his gang, which was called the D-Company after Dawood, became Bombay's most powerful.

In some ways, it's almost like "The Godfather" saga where he knocked off the old godfathers and came into his own. His big racket - smuggling black-market gold and consumer goods into India's economy in the '80s, which was then pretty closed, and then he forced his way into the Bollywood film industry and became quite a big deal.

It was - I think my piece in '05 was the first time he'd really been featured in the States in a national magazine or newspaper story. And it was fun to - well, I shouldn't use the word fun, but it was challenging to introduce this larger-than-life character to Americans because nobody cared. He's off there is South Asia in India and Pakistan. But I think one of the consequences of globalization in general, and 9/11 in particular, is characters like him, gangsters, godfathers on the other side of the world, they do matter to Americans now, and we've got to take people like that seriously.

DAVIES: You know it's so fascinating when you describe this lifestyle. The guy finances Bollywood movies. He hangs out with stars, with movie stars, and athletes and all this flashy lifestyle one could hardly imagine something less like, say bin Laden. And I wonder when he - when Dawood Ibrahim got into terrorism, did he undergo any religious or political conversion, or was this an engagement out of convenience and self-interest?

Mr. KAPLAN: Well, it's a good question, and he's given very few interviews over the years. When I did my big story on him a few years ago, I think we called 16 different numbers in Pakistan trying to track him down, terrifying these poor Pakistanis, asking is Dawood home?

Everyone thinks he's in Pakistan. The Indian intelligence's law enforcement has tracked him there. The U.S. is very interested in his movements, but very few people have actually talked to the guy in recent years. People do think that he went through some kind of religious conversion after these anti-Muslim riots in '93.

But he's also a mobster at heart. I mean, he's got a reputation for being a calm and quiet guy even when he's threatening your life. He's got racketeers from Bangkok to Dubai who report to him. I interviewed the equivalent of India's FBI when I was in Delhi some time ago and got to look at some of the files on him. If you can believe what you see, I mean they're extraordinary. They're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in criminal income and thousands of gang members, some of whom get salary checks much like a legitimate corporation. A guy who has multinational reach, is involved in heroine, and underground banking, and counterfeit CDs.

He may be a criminal, Dave, in that sense, but on the other hand, he pays homage, or tribute is maybe a better word, to Islamic fundamentalists - to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is implicated in the Bombay attacks. And this is straight out of the U.S. designation of Dawood as a global terrorist. They cite his financial support of Lashkar-e-Taiba. So it's kind of a complete circle here.

DAVIES: Now you mentioned that he is not an easy guy to track down. Media haven't been able to connect with him, but I get the sense that he's still leaves a somewhat flashy lifestyle. I mean his daughter married the son of a very famous cricket player, a lavish wedding, right? Do people know - does he have some big fancy estate in Karachi, for example?

Mr. KAPLAN: Apparently, he has several. He's not wanting for resources, but his movements are fairly constrained these days. He's on the Interpol wanted list. The FBI is looking for him. So it's hard for him to leave Pakistan. And the analysts believe that he's basically had to make his peace with the Pakistani security services because that's his home, and a guy like Dawood Ibrahim can be very useful to both Pakistani intelligence and to Islamists fundamentalists.

DAVIES: Well, that's an interesting point. Let's take first the Pakistani intelligence. What would this master criminal be doing for the Pakistani intelligence?

Mr. KAPLAN: In this dark nexus where a lot of underground activities go on, where you have to move goods and money and people clandestinely, you need people like Dawood Ibrahim - people who control smuggling routes, people who control smugglers, people who know how to do underground banking. Dawood can be a very handy guy, and the U.S. intelligence believes that he has been involved in lending his smuggling routes to al-Qaeda.

There are marriages of convenience. Gangsters and terrorists are not natural allies because they have different motivations. Gangsters are primarily motivated by profit, whereas terrorists are motivated by politics, or in some cases, religion. They're motivated by ideology. So often, people like Dawood may not be trusted by groups. But if you have this fabulously wealthy mobster in Pakistan, and he's paying money to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, well, you do build some kind of a relationship, I imagine.

DAVIES: Well, what does the government of Pakistan say about this notorious criminal apparently sheltered in their country?

Mr. KAPLAN: Don't know him. Sorry, wrong address.

DAVIES: Just not there, huh?

Mr. KAPLAN: He's the last guy they want to deal with. And it's also - you can kind of sympathize with the current government of Pakistan. It's a new government, it's a civilian government, and they've inherited just this incredible mess of a country. I mean, it almost resembles a country because they don't their northwest territories where al-Qaeda and the Taliban are active. They've got all this fighting up in Kashmir with these groups that Pakistani intelligence has supported for years. And you've got Baluchis who want us to see - it's just a real mess.

And then you've got this godfather who has ties to Pakistani officials, to their intelligence network. And it's sort of, which Pakistan are you talking about? If you're talking about the civilian government, yeah, they'd probably like to get rid of this guy. But Dawood, like great mobsters throughout history, has his protectors, and you get protection by paying people off. And in his case, he's paid them off well and he's paid them off for many years.

DAVIES: But officially, they don't acknowledge that he is in Pakistan. They deny it?

Mr. KAPLAN: Yeah. They denied it. They denied it to us. They're denying it now. So now, India has come back after this terrible series of attacks, and says it's time that you anted up, you came to the table, and you not only need to solve this crime but we got a whole list of terrorist attacks dating back 20 years that you need to come clean on. And at the top of the list, Dawood Ibrahim. Hand him over. And the Pakistanis, you know, they're just saying who?

DAVIES: One more thing about Dawood. I read a report in recent days that said that Dawood Ibrahim reportedly had provided the boat that the Mumbai attackers had set out from Karachi on. Are you aware of any such information?

Mr. KAPLAN: I'm aware of information knocking that down. You have to be careful with a lot of the reports that come out after a big terrorist attack generally, particularly in elements of the South Asian press which can be pretty fast and loose. There's been some reporting linking Dawood Ibrahim directly to these recent Mumbai attacks.

He was involved 15 years ago. He is tied to al-Qaeda. He's been a backer of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Maybe he is involved but the briefings I've had from intelligence and law enforcements suggest that there is no direct tie. And believe me, if there was, I'd be hearing about it.

DAVIES: Well, let's talk about the nexus between terrorists and criminals. Now, in 2003, the United States government officially designated Dawood Ibrahim, this master mobster, as a terrorist. What is known about his work with specific terrorist organizations that led to this designation?

Mr. KAPLAN: I think what put him over the edge, for the United States, was that he began associating with elements of al-Qaeda. Here's a world-class mobster based in Pakistan, and he's got control of these smuggling routes, he's dealing with narcotics and money laundering. Again, this could be a very useful fellow to an outfit like that run by Osama bin Laden.

You need similar things for organized crime as you do for terrorist groups. You need to move money, you need to have safe houses, you need to have smuggling routes, you need to have fraudulent documentation. So a lot of the trade craft, a lot of the tools of the trade are similar. And what U.S. intelligence found was Dawood was sharing his smuggling routes with al-Qaeda. At the same time he was providing financial support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, an al-Qaeda sympathetic organization, which has trained people who've gone to al Qaeda, has been implicated in al-Qaeda style-attacks, as we just saw in Bombay.

And in fact, when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the notorious mastermind of the actual 9/11 plot, when they finally got Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was in Pakistan at a Lashkar-e-Taiba safe house. So you need these safe houses, you need to move money and people and weapons. Dawood started associating with really the hard core of Muslim fundamentalists and extremists in Pakistan. That got the attention of the U.S. and so five years ago he was put on the global terrorist list.

DAVIES: David Kaplan is editorial director for the Center for Public Integrity. He'll be back in the second half of the show. I'm Dave Davies and this is Fresh Air.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: This is Fresh Air. I'm Dave Davies filling in for Terry Gross. Our guest is David Kaplan, an investigative journalist who spent years covering organized crime and has written about the growing links between terrorists and crime syndicates. Among the Asian crime bosses believed to have worked with terrorists is Dawood Ibrahim, a native Indian who ran a crime syndicate in Mumbai in the '80s and '90s, now believed to be living in Pakistan. He's a colorful character who's financed Bollywood films and dated Bollywood stars. He's also India's most wanted man, accused by the U.S. government of ties to the group suspected in last week's attacks in Mumbai.

Kaplan says Dawood began working with terrorists in the 1990s. You know, I read that when he had his criminal syndicate that he employed both Muslims and Hindus. Do you know if that's still the case or has he - is he now more committed to an ethnic or religious agenda?

Mr. KAPLAN: Yeah. That whole scene has changed. It's too bad because at one - well, the whole thing is too bad, obviously, but sort of in from the jaundiced viewpoint of an organized crime writer that has spent too much of my life doing. One of the compelling things you see about organized crime around the world is that it's a great leveler, that it's an equal-opportunity employer. If you look at a place like Japan, the notorious Yakuza syndicates, they're the biggest employer of ethnic Koreans and Chinese. You know, everybody is welcome if you want to make a fast buck together. And we saw the same thing happen in Bombay.

In these teeming slums, Hindu and Muslim gangsters worked very well together until these riots. India has got a major problem of discrimination against Muslims. They were falling farther and farther down the social ladder in India. India has the second largest population of Muslims in the world after only Indonesia. I think there's about a 140 million Muslims in a country of a billion mostly Hindu people. So there's tension there, and there's discrimination. And there is often unrest between the two groups and that exploded in '93. And I think for Dawood Ibrahim, that was the last straw, and the Hindus split off. His number two guy was in fact a Hindu. He formed his own gang, and they become rivals. The Indians have magazines that are just full of - I mean, there are like People magazines about organized crime. You know, they just chronicle the lives of these rather colorful figures around the region.

DAVIES: So, not only is society more polarized, the criminals are now ethnically polarized?

Mr. KAPLAN: Now, it's reached down into the underworld. Yeah, yeah. So, when I say it's too bad, it was the one place where they were working together. You know, you even see this in the Middle East where the Israeli gangsters worked with the Lebanese and the Jordanian, sort of equal opportunity if you want to steal cars or smuggle hashish, you know.

DAVIES: Well, let's talk about these ties between Islamic terrorists and organized crime. Is this a relatively new alliance? I mean, is this a product of recent years or have they always been doing this?

Mr. KAPLAN: Well, it's funny because I spent much of my career writing about organized crime, and then began writing about terrorism really as a criminal group. And that is what they are. They're criminals who engage in illegal activity. As I mentioned earlier, the motives are different and that's the great divider. But when you look at racketeering activity, terrorist groups are engaged in racketeering, OK. But they're very different because of the difference in motivation, because one is ideologically motivated and the other is pushed mostly by the need to make fast profits.

The groups started merging at some point in the '90s where, apparently because of globalization, partly because of the Cold War ended state support for terrorist organizations, the terrorist groups had to find another source of support. Now, what the Islamists were able to do - bin Laden's genius, what was, you know - al-Qaeda, they weren't so much holy warriors as they were holy fundraisers. They were very good at raising money. First, for the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan. And then, you know, for the great world jihad. Much of this money came from Saudi religious foundations. When the - after 9/11, when the U.S. and other western countries began putting pressure on the Saudis, that started to dry up.

So, al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, other groups like that had to start looking for other sources of income. Well, if you're already engaged in illegal activity, where do you go? You go to rackets. You go to drug dealing. You go to all kinds of criminal services, extortion, and there's antiquities trade that al-Qaeda has been linked to. So, again someone like Dawood Ibrahim becomes very handy to a group like that because he already knows how to do this stuff.

DAVIES: Are there particular criminal enterprises that the terrorists are drawn to, credit card scams, identity theft, I mean, are their things that they're particularly good or want to do?

Mr. KAPLAN: Boy, you put your finger on two of the most popular, yeah. Low-level frauds are very popular. If you look at what al-Qaeda types in Europe are into, a lot of the North African terrorists and terrorists wannabes, they love low-level fraud, robbing ATM machines and stealing credit cards and identity thefts. And you can make a lot of money and the consequences are fairly small and because the rackets are sort of at a low level, they don't attract a lot of police attention. So, tobacco smuggling, that's another big source. You can make almost as much money as you can smuggling narcotics, but the penalties are far lower.

So they look for windows like that and, you know, it's no mistake that so many groups on the U.S. terror list are involved in narcotic smuggling. There was a study done out Stanford some years back where they looked at the world's big conflict areas. And they found that where there's what they called contraband financing, where there were illegal rackets involved like blood diamonds or gold smuggling or narcotics, they lasted many, many times longer than areas that didn't have contraband financing.

DAVIES: You know, I wonder if religious fanatics who are in Islamist organizations have any qualms about feeding, you know, the immorality that they so often condemn by doing things like, you know, trafficking in narcotics or prostitution.

Mr. KAPLAN: Well, it cuts both ways. There was a famous saying that one of the Indonesian al-Qaeda followers said. He just said, you can take their blood, why can't you take their money? And so to some degree it's been rationalized within the ranks of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. On the other hand, al-Qaeda itself - bin Laden and his top people made a conscious decision to stay out of the heroine trade. And one of the mistakes, I think, my colleagues and I made after 9/11 was reporting that bin Laden was involved in the narcotics trade when, in fact, they made a decision to stay out, we later learned. And the reason was that they thought it was morally inappropriate, and they thought it would bring heat, and they thought it would attract the attention of authorities. And it is a consequence of getting more into criminal activity that it leaves a bigger footprint. It tends to attract attention.

DAVIES: David Kaplan is editorial director for the Center for Public Integrity. More after a break. This is Fresh Air.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: If you're just joining us, we're speaking with David Kaplan, he's an investigative journalist who's written about links between terrorists and organized crime syndicates. In a 2005 piece that you wrote in U.S. News and World Report, you quoted then-Marine Commandant James Jones of warning about the nexus of terrorist groups with criminal gangs and narcotics traffickers. He, of course, has now been named National Security Adviser by President-elect Obama. Do you think that suggests that we'll see a greater focus on this association in law enforcement in the future?

Mr. KAPLAN: I was encouraged when I heard Jones was nominated. I did have the good fortune to interview him a few years ago, and he's an impressive guy. Even more than that, I was working on a story trying to understand this nexus between organized crime and terrorism. And it's one of these investigations where the pieces were just all over the map, and I wasn't getting very good answers from people in either law enforcement or intelligence. Then I go and meet with Jones who was head of the U.S. European command, which also gave him responsibility for Africa. And he was alarmed at what he was seeing. He got it.

And as you look at this new world of threats, these transnational threats that are mobile and products of globalization and have chapters in so many countries and are so hard to track and mitigate, here was a guy who was looking a few years ahead and starting to see the patterns and wanted his people to take that on. A fact that this guy is now National Security Adviser, I think that's a good thing.

DAVIES: You know, it's interesting, because as I looked at some of what you've written, you know, I think we in the United States have come to view terrorists as, you know, these secretive cells driven - you know, run by driven fanatics. And when you described the situation in Pakistan and India, I mean, it looks like a much more kind of fluidcy(ph) of common criminals and terrorists interacting, helping each other, and it sort of - it seems like a different world and you'd have to take a different approach to deal with it.

Mr. KAPLAN: You do. It's a perceptive remark. You know, one of the things to understand about Pakistan is that there's a jihad industry. I mean, people get paid to be part of these organizations. In some cases, they'll get five, six times what they'll get on the street doing common jobs. So there's actually a profit motive to be part of these groups. If you look an outfit like Lashkar-e-Taiba, it's set up like Hamas or Hezbollah in the sense that it has schools, charity organizations, and they had a big role in cleaning up after the earthquake that struck a remote part of Pakistan, and they got good press for that.

So these - it's like I said, which Pakistan are we talking about? Are we talking about organized crime and rackets? Are we talking about public corruption? Are we talking about these social service organizations and charities? Are we talking about terrorist organizations? Well, sometimes you're talking about the same organization. Where do you even begin to attack that?

DAVIES: You know, years back, people who follow an organized crime in the United States knew there were five major crime families in New York. And I'm wondering, if you could give us a sense of the scale of the crime syndicate of Dawood, and kind of where it fits in the constellation of organized crime in that part of the world.

Mr. KAPLAN: Well, Dawood Ibrahim's crime syndicate, D-Company, is a world-class mob organization. You can talk about, I don't know, probably a half dozen major types of crime syndicates. You know, you got the La Cosa Nostra, the Italian-American mafia, and their older cousins, the Sicilian Mafia. You've got groups like the Russian mob. You've got the Yakuza in Japan, and triad organizations in China. Most of these are actually pretty disparate organizations, you have families, you have gangs. But if you've ever seen the Sopranos, you know, Soprano himself kind of runs his own rackets and people might kick money up to him, but it's pretty accurate. They're actually fairly loose networked organizations.

And now, what's happened in this era of globalization is you get both transnational crime organizations and terrorist cells who are able to operate very mobile, very network-based, just like legitimate businesses do. It's - in a flat world, in a networked world, everything changed with cell phones and the internet and cheap jet travel, and borders coming down. So what that's done is enable someone like Dawood Ibrahim, who in the 1980s was really a local mobster in Bombay, to go global. And he's got contacts across Eurasia. He's able to move goods and money and men with some facility. And this is really what gives, you know, a lot of law enforcement people who work at an international level nightmares because the crooks, the bad guys know how to do this.

They're using the technology, they're mobile, they're global. And the cops and, Lord knows, the journalists, we're all sort of one step behind trying to figure out what's really going on. So, the world's changed and people like Dawood Ibrahim - this is really a 21st century kind of gangster.

DAVIES: You know, I think a lot of people would think - would find it hard to imagine American organized crime outfits in close association with Islamic terrorists, for example. And I wonder if there are cases in India and Pakistan where criminals decide they don't want to get involved with people who have, you know, the kind of ends that they do for mass civilian casualties out of any sense of patriotism or nationalism or principle.

Mr. KAPLAN: Yeah. And I'm sure that the Indian investigators are working underworld sources in trying to find out who's seen what and that they probably got Hindu crooks that they're using as snitches to try to find stuff on Muslim mobsters and vice versa, and it's just how the game is played. You know, traditionally, organized crime is parasitical. It will feed off the host, but it doesn't want to kill it because that's the cash cow, if you will. You know, there's a famous old saying attributed to Al Capone where he said he was a hundred percent supporter of the American free-enterprise system.

Now, American capitalism was very good to Al Capone and his bootlegging. And you know, the U.S. intelligence used Lucky Luciano and the mafia to watch the docks in New York during World War II. There was a level of patriotism that mobsters have exhibited. They may be mobsters, but there are mobsters. If you look in Japan, the Yakuza are associated with these super ultranationalistic gangs that are - they revere the emperor and they take on leftist groups all the time. So, you get this - you can get a very politicized set of attributes associated with some organized crime groups. And in a way, Dawood Ibrahim is doing exactly that, except he is going to his Muslim roots. He sees his people, Indian Muslims, exploited, and he exacted revenge for this 15 years ago. And for all we know, he may still be in the game taking another piece.

DAVIES: You know, it's interesting that he was a successful criminal who employed both Muslims and Hindus, and then he becomes ideologically more committed to a radical Muslim agenda. I wonder if it cost him money to get out of the Hindu side of crime, do we know?

Mr. KAPLAN: Oh, I'm sure it did. His movements are constrained, and I mean he has access to the international narcotics trade, which there's so much heroin and opium coming out of Afghanistan now. There's probably a considerable amount of profit he can turn. But because his movements are constrained, I think he's probably a pretty frustrated mobster at this point. And the real worry may be his deputies and this next generation of globalized transnational criminals who provide the connective tissue between organized crime and terrorism and fraud and corruption generally. This is - in some ways, this is the real challenge. They have similar roots. You know, some of these kids come from dislocated and disenfranchised communities. And so, what opportunities do they have? They can join the local mob. They can join the local radical madrassa and who's going to offer them answers?

So, in a way, it's kind of a do-good cliche to say, but we've got to clean up the whole world, you know. To deal with the roots of organized crime and terrorism, you're really talking about some of the same fundamental issues about development, about economic opportunity, about getting people decent health care and opportunity, because they're breeding. You know, we've got sections of the world that are becoming increasingly off limits. There was a book done in the last year called "The Bottom Billion" by a former World Bank economist about how things have reversed. We used to have 80 percent of the world that was poor and 20 percent that was rich. Now, 80 percent is developing, but we're leaving 20 percent behind. These are the breeding areas for the worst kinds of organized crime and terrorism.

DAVIES: Well, David Kaplan. Thanks so much for speaking with us.

Mr. KAPLAN: A real pleasure. Thank you.

DAVIES: David Kaplan is editorial director of the Center for Public Integrity. Coming up, Ken Tucker on the new album by young country music sensation, Taylor Swift. This is Fresh Air.
Fresh Air
12:00-1:00 PM
Taylor Swift's 'Fearless' Follow-Up Album


Taylor Swift got a contract to write country songs in Nashville when she was just 14 years old. She released her first album in 2006 at the age of 16, and it became one of the most successful country music debuts in recent memory. Now, she's released her second album, "Fearless," filled with songs about teenage heartbreak and school romance. But rock critic Ken Tucker says there's music here that will resonate with many adults as well.

(Soundbite of song "Fifteen")

Ms. TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors. It's the morning of your very first day. You say hi to your friends you ain't seen in a while, and try to stay out of everybody's way. It's your freshman year, and you're gonna be here for the next 4 years in this town, hopin' one of those Senior boys will wink at you and say you know I haven't seen you around before. 'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them...

KEN TUCKER: When it comes to songs about the hopes and desires of a 15 year old, you get the feeling that no one speaks with more authority and catchy precision than Taylor Swift, for whom "Fifteen" was pretty much yesterday. It would usually be a back-handed complimented best to say that an album sounds like the diary entries of a young girl. But for Swift, it's a measure of her uncanny evocativeness.

(Soundbite of song "Tell me Why")

Ms. SWIFT: (Singing) I took a chance, I took a shot and you might think I'm bulletproof, but I'm not. You took a swing, I took it hard and down here from the ground I see who you are. I'm sick and tired of your attitude. I'm feeling like I don't know you. You tell me that you still love me then cut me down and I need you like a heartbeat but you know you got a mean streak makes me run for cover when you're around and here's to you and your temper. Yes, I remember what you said last night, and I know that you see what you're doing to me. Tell me why...

KEN TUCKER: It's not just the words, which of necessity are conversational to the point of barely bothering to rhyme. Swift's overwriting goal was to create a feeling of intimacy among her peers, which precludes fancy rhetorical flourishes. But it's also in the music. Her melodies combine country, soft rock, and hard-edge folk to create a fine confessional mode.

(Soundbite of song, "You Belong with Me")

Ms. SWIFT: (Singing) You're on the phone with your girlfriend, she's upset. She's going off about something that you said. 'Cause she doesn't get your humor like I do. I'm in my room, it's a typical Tuesday night. I'm listening to the kind of music she doesn't like
And she'll never know your story like I do. But she wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts. She's cheer captain, and I'm on the bleachers. Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find what you're looking for has been here the whole time. If you could see that I'm the one who understands you. Been here all along so why can't you see. You belong with me, you belong with me...

KEN TUCKER: That song features a little twang in the vocal and a little fiddle in the instrumental mix. But what it really is, is a driving pop song about being out of place. Of being the second choice to a guy who wants to be with a popular girl instead of Taylor, who's busy identifying herself as a, "girl in the bleachers". That is to say an observer, an outsider. If the set up is improbable, I'm reasonably sure a girl with Swift's impish smile was pretty popular even before she got a record contract. The song writing and vocal performance is all intense ache. And intense ache is one of the best things adolescence has always contributed to modern pop music.

(Soundbite of song "Hey, Stephen")

Ms. SWIFT: (Singing) Hey Stephen, I know looks can be deceivin'. But I know I saw a light in you. And as we walked we were talking. I didn't say half the things I wanted to. Of all the girls tossing rocks at your window. I'll be the one waiting there even when it's cold. Hey Stephen, boy, you might have me believin' I don't always have to be alone. 'Cause I can't help it if you look like an angel. Can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain so. Come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you. Can't help it if there's no one else. I can't help myself...

KEN TUCKER: One reaction you might have to this country music is to say, is this country music? Yeah. No matter how many millions of albums Taylor Swift sells, and her first one sold six, no one is going to confuse her with Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton, or even the more pop-oriented country idol of her, Shania Twain. But then again, how many teenagers are even paying lips service to country music as a vehicle for careful songcraft and impassion emotionalism. Two albums in, Taylor Swift is sounding less like a novelty act than like someone who already knows that a lot of us never stop experiencing those feelings of righteous anger, insecurity, and giddiness.

DAVIES: Ken Tucker is editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed "Fearless" by Taylor Swift. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Her interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salat, Phyllis Myers, Monique Nazareth, and Marie Baldonado, Joan Tui Westman(ph), Sam Brigger, Jonathan Menjivar, John Myers and John Shien(ph). For Terry Gross, I’m Dave Davies.

(Soundbite of song "Forever and Always")

Ms. SWIFT: (Singing) Once upon a time, I believe it was a Tuesday. When I caught your eye, we caught onto something. I hold onto the night you looked me in the eye and told me you loved me, were you just kidding? 'Cause it seems to me, this thing is breaking down. We almost never speak, I don't feel welcome anymore. Baby, what happened, please tell me. 'Cause one second it was perfect, now you're halfway out the door. And I stare at the phone, he still hasn't called. And then you feel so low you can't feel nothin' at all. And you flashback to when he said forever and always. Oh oh, and it rains in your bedroom, everything is wrong. It rains when you're here and it rains when you're gone. 'Cause I was there when you said forever and always.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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