Category Archives: Drug Smuggling

al-Qaeda spreads Opium in Diyala Iraq

Patrick Cockburn gives reality a leftist twist for The Independent:

The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops.

Afghan[s] with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates, north-east of Baghdad.

At a heavily guarded farm near the town of Buhriz, south of the provincial capital Baquba, poppies are grown between the orange trees in order to hide them, according to a local source.

Here is the narrative you are supposed to believe. Opium has been grown in Iraq since the Sumerian era in 3400BC. Farmers in Diyala province of Iraq cannot make a living growing regular food crops. Recently, these Afghans just happened to be walking by with everything that was needed to grow opium poppies. Farmers not realizing that opium gets processed and turned into heroin thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to grow opium between the orange trees in their orchards. The fact that the al-Qaeda “resistance” hides out here and has killed a bunch of farmers before seizing their land doesn’t have anything to do with why opium poppies are being cultivated in Diyala. That is just a coincidence. By the way, all the violence in the province is caused not by al-Qaeda but by American troops. There are not any heroin labs in Iraq.

Those who read past the first three paragraphs will discover there is more to it.

Diyala, an area of foothills stretching from just east of Baghdad to the Iranian border, with easy transit across the Iranian border, is the primary center of violence and al-Qaeda terrorist activity in Iraq. Al-Qaeda jihadists and criminals imported opium poppies and Afghan experts in opium cultivation to Iraq, first in the south around Basra and now also in Diyala. al-Qaeda jihadists and other violent criminal gangs have taken over a bunch of farms in the boonies after either killing or driving away the owners and are cultivating opium poppies and preparing for jihad operations on their stolen land. There are not any known heroin labs in Iraq, yet.

The Al-Qaeda “resistance” romanticized by the likes of Cockburn are not Minutemen or heroes. They are criminal gangs something like MS-13, the Crips, and the Bloods, only more violent and fascist and not nearly as civic minded.

Trackposted to The Virtuous Republic, third world county, Woman Honor Thyself, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, Celebrity Smack, Big Dog’s Weblog, Dumb Ox Daily News, CORSARI D’ITALIA, and Conservative Cat, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Advertisements

Farah: The Taliban and the Drug Trade

Douglas Farah writes:

Well, for those who have argued there is no smoking gun linking the Taliban to opium production, the jig is now up. NATO forces discovered 11 tons of processed opium in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan, meaning the opium was at the stage where it can be converted to heroin on about a one-to-one ratio. In other words, it was almost 11 tons of heroin.

Farah disposes of the objection that the Taliban punish drug use severely, so they could never stoop to the profitable trade in illegal drugs.

There has been a long-held predisposition in the intelligence community to believe that because Islam severely frowns on the use of drugs (particularly the kind of Islam espoused by the Taliban), the group did not really participate in the drug trade. If they execute people for drug possession, then how could they justify trafficking in the product?

Well, the answer lies in creative theology. There have been several fatwas issued by Taliban theologians since 2001 allowing a Muslim to engage in activities that are harmful to the enemy (that would be us), even if they are actions that a Muslim normally could not take.

Previous:

1. Problems with Afghan heroin
2. Helmand Means Heroin: Al Qaeda’s Heroin Smuggling Operation from Afghanistan

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Problems with Afghan heroin

Way back in May, I wrote about the bumper crop of Heroin that was going to be coming out of Helmand province in Afghanistan, and what to do about it.

It’s better to pay the farmers for 610 metric tons of opium than to have it all flooding the EU and US streets in the form of cheap heroin, with the revenues paying for weapons and salaries for Al Qaeda. There are contractual and social solutions for the problems noted in Transform, and it would help to decouple the ordinary people in Helmand from Al Qaeda and associated criminal gangs.

Today the CFR interviews Romesh Bhattacharji who provides valuable data in support of this idea.

India is one of only a dozen countries allowed to grow opium poppies to export for the manufacture of legal drugs such as morphine. Romesh Bhattacharji, former narcotics commissioner for India, says he thinks India’s system of legalized opium growing can work in Afghanistan. Bhattacharji says India’s success with poppy growing (PDF) though an international licensing program for medicine production is largely due to a village control system, where if one farmer sells their crop illegally the entire area loses its license. He urges the adoption of this method in Afghanistan, where he says eradication efforts are ineffective and swaying support for the Taliban.

It took long enough for the lefties in the CFR to wise up to this idea!

Musa Qala, recently retaken from the Taliban in a battle that killed hundreds of Taliban fighters, was home to dozens of heroin processing labs that paid protection money to the Taliban and most likely sold the heroin to Taliban approved smugglers for transport over the mountains to someplace where it could be shipped to Europe and the US. The resurgence of Afghan Heroin has provided funds that enable the Taliban and Al Qaeda to return to action in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But the fighters did collect “taxes” from businesses, farmers and others, money used to help fund the insurgency that raged across the northern part of Helmand province in 2007, a year of record violence in Afghanistan.

Fariq Khan, a Musa Qala resident in his early 30s who owns a telephone shop, said the Taliban would take about $8 from each family every month during a collection at the mosque. Though small, the amount is significant; teachers in Afghanistan are paid only $50 a month.

Trucks passing through paid $50 and poppy farmers had to turn over 10 percent of their profits, Khan said, speaking to The Associated Press in Kandahar.

Musa Qala was the site of 50 to 70 heroin labs used to process the opium poppies.

Musa Qala is iconic for the battle in Helmand province. But every little village and town around it is in the same situation. It is smack in the middle of the Afghan poppy belt, and those opium poppies grow everywhere. Every village has more than its share of heroin labs. Every lab and farmer pays protection money to the Taliban and the Taliban smuggles the heroin out of Helmand using the same smuggling lines they use to smuggle themselves and their weapons across the border with the ungoverned parts of Pakistan.

How bad is the heroin problem exactly?

Afghanistan this year produced 93 percent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient in heroin. Helmand produced more than 50 percent of the country’s opium. More than 80 percent of the province’s farmers are involved in the opium trade.

Afghan Heroin is not just a problem for the US and Europe, but also for Afghanistan.

“I have been addicted to heroin for five years now,” said Faqirullah, sleepy and half-stoned in a bombed-out building in Kabul just a short walk from the national parliament.

Today Online has more to report from a story that appears to be written by Sardar Ahmad for AFP. Snippets follow.

Nearly a million Afghans, about four percent of the population, use drugs, according to the last UN survey in 2005.
.
The figure is no doubt higher now, says counternarcotics ministry spokesman Sayed Amanullah Abdali, flicked upwards by the return every year of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan, where many first take drugs.

Another snippet.

Afghanistan is estimated this year to have produced 93 percent of the world’s illegal opium — about 8,200 tons, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
.
Until a few years ago, most of it was exported in its raw form. Today the lion’s share, perhaps 90 percent, is turned into heroin inside the country, a UN official said in June.
.
This means more profits for the drug traffickers, who are said to be linked to Taliban insurgents, and more heroin for the local addicts.

Trackposted to Faultline USA, Woman Honor Thyself, Adam’s Blog, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Walls of the City, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Celebrity Smack, Big Dog’s Weblog, Chuck Adkins, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Helmand Means Heroin: Al Qaeda’s Heroin Smuggling Operation from Afghanistan

Hayder Mili and Jacob Townsend write in the indispensable Terrorism Monitor from the Jamestown Foundation:

Any national counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan must begin with a preface noting the geographical variations of the country. In 2006, the southern province of Helmand accounted for 46% of Afghanistan’s opium production. To the east of Helmand, Kandahar produced eight percent. In other words, the majority of Afghanistan’s opium economy is built on production in two southern provinces. Of the remainder, 25% is produced in the northern belt close to the borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, with lighter concentrations in the eastern and western provinces. Based on the UNODC’s observations of recent opium planting, southern pre-eminence is likely to intensify further in 2007 [1]. The distribution of production correlates strongly with areas of ongoing insurgency/terrorism and coalition fatalities. Using NATO’s divisions of Afghanistan, Regional Command South, which includes Helmand and Kandahar provinces, is where 62% of the country’s opium is produced and where the coalition has suffered close to two-thirds of its combat deaths [2]. Basically, people are dying where poppies are thriving. (source)

Any source of funding for Taliban and Al Qaeda is an important center of gravity for the counterjihad. This seems to be unbelievably easy to solve, as there is a worldwide shortage of Opium to use for legal medicines. Why not pay the opium farmers in Helmand the same amount of money that Al Qaeda and other smugglers pay for opium and use it to produce much-needed pain-killers? It is a much better answer than interdiction and crop destruction.

Steve R. states at Transform, there are two problems with this scenario.

  • Current world-wide use of legal opiates is 400 metric tons per year. The UN opium licensing operation is currently stockpiling roughly 800 metric tons of opium (two years’ supply). Afghanistan’s current production is 610 metric tons per year, and rising. It is likely that further demand on Afghanistan’s opium will simply increase Afghan opium production under the same farmers, warlords, and Taliban.
  • Steve R. states that Afghanistan is a failed state and war zone. I wouldn’t go that far, but government control more the exception than the rule in Afghanistan, especially in the Pashtun south. The security and infrastructure situation also means that Afghan unit costs could be as much as ten times the current unit cost for opium.

So what is it, a good or bad idea?

It’s better to pay the farmers for 610 metric tons of opium than to have it all flooding the EU and US streets in the form of cheap heroin, with the revenues paying for weapons and salaries for Al Qaeda. There are contractual and social solutions for the problems noted in Transform, and it would help to decouple the ordinary people in Helmand from Al Qaeda and associated criminal gangs. Even if we don’t have anywhere to put the opium and end up destroying it, it’s cheaper than and preferable to abandoning Afghanistan to a new Taliban/Al-Qaeda occupation and dealing with the resulting nuclear Iran.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,