Any discussion about the economic resources that flow into the coffers of modern terrorist organisations must first address two essential distinctions: one which comes to mind almost immediately (but is far less common nowadays), and another which is perhaps less obvious but much more relevant for a full understanding of the dynamics involved.The first and more obvious distinction is the one between modern terrorist organisations and criminal cartels. These two types of organisation have fairly different core businesses on paper. But the distinction between the two has grown gradually less significant since the end of the Cold War with the result that the main sources of funding for terrorist groups worldwide have ceased to be either certain regional powers capable of playing an independent role (as was the case with Libya under Muammar Gaddafi) or the governments of one of the blocs.

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