There are many indications that various aspects and factors of large-scale war victimization could be made visible through the collection and analysis of data on organized crime in post-conflict societies. War victimization could be understood as an outcome of opportunistic criminal activity: war conditions offer a unique opportunity to criminals and criminal groups (especially those involved in military or paramilitary formations) not only to restrain their destructive personal potential, but also to attain a new identity as 'national heroes' and to gain a significantly better economic position through advantageous 'investments' in post-war criminal business. Crimes in war as well as war crimes, often perceived as basically launched by nationalistic ('blood and belonging') ideology, could be examined in a broader hypothetical framework: nationalist ideologies should be considered not only as the motivation but also as the means. By identifying themselves primarily as members of a specific nation who 'defend' (or victimize) a specific ethnic group, criminals of war provide not only the legitimization of crimes against other nations/ethnic groups, but also of crimes against (primarily political) opponents within their own ethnic group.
The main aim of this paper is to argue for the research of the continuity of organized criminal activity before, during and after ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. This kind of research is argued to be a promising tool for the assessment of links between war and organized crime victimization as a way of gaining a more comprehensive picture of the recent past. Research findings may further be used as the basis for the creation of comprehensive regional security strategies.