There is a connection between Middle East terrorists and the drug trade dates back more than two decades, when the United States and pro-Western governments opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. At that time the focus was on training and equipping fierce mujahideen fighters to resist communist occupation forces, but the means to that end were often the same drug money. Today it is the same thing but growing. The drugs raised in Afghanistan finds its way via smuggling routes into markets in both Europe and the United States where they are sold. In turn millions of dollars and Eros are used to fund terrorist and their terror not only in Afghanistan but around the world. Most of these same terrorist drug organizations that fuel the terror network also help to fund the Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. Part of this illicit cash provides operating capital for international terrorist Osama Bin Laden and others. Canada Drugs Direct
Afghanistan produces over 80 percent of the world’s opium supply and 90 percent of the opiate products destined for Europe and the USA. Unlike their counterparts in Colombia, the terrorists in Afghanistan enjoy the benefits of a trafficker-driven economy that lacks a national government who has any interest in combating it.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzal recently at a news conference said, “It destroys our economy, it destroys a good family life in Afghanistan, which is the most important thing to have in any country. And most important of all, drug production and trafficking goes hand in hand with terrorism, the money that’s created from drugs feeds terrorism in Afghanistan
and the rest of the world”.
US Drug Enforcement Administration DEA intelligence confirms the presence of a linkage between Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban and international terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Although DEA has no direct evidence to confirm that Bin Laden is involved in the drug trade, the sanctuary in Pakistan enjoyed by Bin Laden is based on the Taliban’s support for the drug trade, which is a primary source of income in Afghanistan. Credible DEA source information indicates ties between the Taliban and the drug trade. The Taliban directly taxes and derives financial benefits from the opium trade. They even provide receipts for their collected drug revenues.
Drug czar John Walters has acknowledged that “the struggle between narco-trafficking has to be linked with the fight against terrorism” because “drug-trafficking groups contribute to the financing of corruption and terrorism.”
Those involved in the drug trade in the Middle East are as serious about their investment as their violent counterparts in countries such as Colombia, Mexico and the Golden Triangle cartels. Attacks on foreign-aid workers in Afghanistan have skyrocketed – from one a month to one every two days – particularly in areas where opium-producing flowers are being harvested. “It’s absolutely true that security is worse in places where people are growing poppies,” said Diane Johnson, the Afghanistan program director for the Mercy Corps, a charity based in Portland, Oregon.
Afghanistan produces more opium than any other country. DEA has seen no decrease in availability, and no increase in the price of Southwest Asian Heroin in the United States and European consumer countries. This indicates that significant amounts of opiates still remain available and are plentiful in the supply pipeline. According to the United Nations, up to 60% of Afghanistan’s opium crop is stored for future sales.
“The revenue from the poppy trade in Afghanistan is more than all the humanitarian aid combined,” said Paul Barker, Afghanistan director of CARE. He’s right, of course; poppy cultivation in that country earned $1.2 billion in 2002, compared with $500 million in foreign aid, providing an incredible incentive to those who profited from poppy growing to adopt an “any means necessary” approach to protecting their largest cash cow.
Rep. Ed Royce, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs terrorism and nonproliferation subcommittee, said an Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) document highlights how vulnerable the nation is when fighting the war on terrorism.
“I’ll be asking the terrorism subcommittee to hold a hearing on the DEA report’s disturbing findings,” said Mr. Royce of California. “A flood of name changes from Arabic to Hispanic and the reported linking of drug cartels on the Texas border with Middle East terrorism needs to be thoroughly investigated.”
DEA says they will continue to aggressively identify and build cases against drug trafficking organizations contributing to global terrorism. They intend to limit the ability of drug traffickers to use their destructive goods as a commodity to fund malicious assaults on humanity and the rule of law.
According to the DEA their mission is to target the powerful international drug trafficking organizations that operate around the world, supplying drugs to American communities, employing thousands of individuals to transport and distribute drugs. Some of these groups have never hesitated to use violence and terror to advance their interests, all to the detriment of law-abiding citizens. We see in these groups today a merger of international organized crime, drugs, and terror. While DEA does not specifically target terrorists, per se, we can and will target and track down drug traffickers involved in terrorist acts, wherever in the world we can find them.
DEA’s interest in terrorism and insurgencies is based on three considerations: National Security, Force Protection, and Foreign Intelligence.
The Columbian and Mexican drug cartels now believed to be working with international terrorist is the most pervasive organizational threat to the United States.
These new combined international drug trafficking organizations are complex organizations with highly defined command-and-control structures that produce, transport, and/or distribute large quantities of Afghanistan illicit drugs.
The Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) are perfect for the terrorist because they are active in every region of the country and dominate the illicit drug trade in every area in both Mexico and the United States. Because of this new alliance Mexican DTOs are expanding their operations dramatically in order to gain a larger share of the drug market. Colombian DTOs are dominant cocaine and heroin traffickers, particularly in the Northeast; however, they are increasingly relinquishing control to Mexican DTOs in order to shield themselves from law enforcement detection. The Mexican DTOs are already major transporters and distributors of cocaine and South American heroin into the U.S. They also distribute cocaine and other drugs to numerous other DTOs and criminal groups that are also active in the United States the world’s largest users of cocaine and heroin.
Other reasons the terrorist have chosen the Mexican DTOs is they control the transportation and wholesale distribution of most illicit drugs in every area of the western hemisphere, exerting unrivaled control over transportation and wholesale distribution of cocaine, Mexican heroin, Mexican marijuana, and ice methamphetamine. Their established overland transportation routes and entrenched distribution networks enable them to supply primary and secondary drug markets throughout these regions. Mexican DTOs are further expanding their influence throughout the world.
Other organizations pandering to the global terrorist drug traffickers is Asian DTOs and criminal groups based in Canada have emerged as significant producers, transporters, and distributors of high-potency marijuana and MDMA to drug markets throughout the United States. Others are Colombian, Dominican, Cuban, and Jamaican DTOs serve as major transporters and distributors of illicit drugs in the United States. Still others getting involved are Criminal groups operating in the United States and they are numerous and range from small to moderately sized, loosely knit groups that distribute one or more drugs at the midlevel and retail level.
The drug distribution is even evolving Gangs in America and they in turn sale to the street dealers. The street dealers than get the products to the smaller dealers to distribute to our neighbors. All of this creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. And that is exactly what the terrorist want.
The U.S. indicates an increase in worldwide demand for heroin, and the resulting profitability of poppy growing in the regions of the world where terrorist organizations most flourish. U.S. and other forces have been in Afghanistan for several years – despite having ousted the ruling Taliban government, which support al-Qaeda terrorists. Fighting an ongoing guerrilla war against supporters of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in hopes of creating a stable government in Kabul and the country in general is proving to be slim.
The illegal drug market is one of the most profitable in the world. It is extremely difficult to know the global value of the drug trade since it is a business that is illegal, underground, and hard to trace. The United Nations Drug Control Program estimates that it is worth $400 billion per year, equivalent to 8% of world trade. In the United States, alone, the drug trade is worth upwards of $100 billion per year. It is now close to 20 years since the U.S. government has been fighting the “War On Drugs,” but despite the billions of dollars spent, an enormous amount of drugs continues to flow into the country. And now even more coming in from Afghanistan.
However, with poppy sales on the rise in Afghanistan local warlords whose allegiance rests comfortably with anti-U.S. factions and those whose loyalty is up for sale can be counted on to continue cultivating this highly coveted crop to raise money for local armies fighting to expel American and allied troops from Afghanistan.
According to the United Nations Drug Control Program More heroin production will mean that more drugs will be sold on American streets by the kinds of characters who would do business with terrorists. Street crime and corruption will certainly be a booming industry in the next few years. On the foreign-policy front, rising demand for illegal drugs from the United States and other countries means more money for terrorists to finance violent operations against coalition soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It means unfortunately more body bags coming home from the frontlines.
According to a DEA source who wants to remain nameless said, “There are no quick fixes to the poppy problem in Afghanistan, I would say aerial eradication is wrong, it will drive farmers, the vast majority of whom are very poor and trying to feed their families into the hands of the Taliban and that would be a big mistake”