U.S. Official: Taliban in Opium Trade 

U.S. Official: Taliban in Opium Trade 
Posted by FoM on October 03, 2001 at 11:17:32 PT
By Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
Though Afghanistan's Taliban rulers remain deeply involved in the opium trade, there is little evidence that drugs are a major source of funding for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, top drug officials told lawmakers Wednesday.But the officials said the al-Qaida network, based in Afghanistan, benefits indirectly from the Taliban's involvement in trafficking and they are concerned that it could develop closer links with traffickers as it comes under pressure from the United States following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"Whenever you have a terrorist organization that has to have sources of money and they are geographically alongside drug organizations that produce money, then there's obviously the potential for a stronger connection between the two," Asa Hutchinson, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on criminal justice, drug policy and human resources.U.S. officials say that opium trafficking has been a major source of financing for the Taliban, the hardline Islamic militia that governs most of the country. Hutchinson and William Bach, a State Department counter-narcotics official, said the Taliban tax traffickers, sometimes accepting opium instead of cash.In anticipation of U.S. military reprisals for the terrorist attacks, the Taliban appears to be dumping its stockpiles. Opium prices in the region dropped suddenly from $746 a kilogram to $95 immediately after the attacks. It has since bounced back to $429.In the late 1990s, Afghanistan was the world's leading producer of opium, the raw material for heroin. At its peak, it supplied more than 70 percent of the world market.Last year, the Taliban ordered a halt to opium cultivation, citing religious principles. International observers confirmed production had been almost wiped out in Taliban-held areas, with the little remaining opium being cultivated on land held by the opposition northern alliance.But U.S. officials say the ban has had little effect on trafficking because the Taliban hasn't eliminated massive opium stockpiles from previous years or stop traffickers.Subcommittee chairman Mark Souder, R-Ind., called the ban "a coldly calculated ploy to control the world market price for their opium and heroin."U.S. officials have estimated that opium could provide the Taliban with up to $50 million a year. Hutchinson and Bach said al-Qaida benefits indirectly because it has been protected by the Taliban.But Bach said that drug trafficking "just doesn't seem to be the major resource for al-Qaida."Souder noted that U.S. officials have paid little attention to the Afghan opium trade because little of it entered the United States."We now must confront the new reality that the Afghan drug trade, largely without crossing our borders, has harmed our country just as much as the drugs from half a world away that reached American streets," he said. Newshawk: Nicholas Thimmesch IINORML Media & CommunicationsSource: Associated Press Author: Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press WriterPublished: Wednesday, October 3, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Associated Press Related Articles:Surging Heroin Flow Could Fund War Effort a Major Source of Revenue for Taliban Rely on Drug Money, says DEA Chief 
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Comment #2 posted by krutch on October 03, 2001 at 15:53:35 PT:
This Affirms What I Have been saying since 9/11
"Though Afghanistan's Taliban rulers remain deeply involved in the opium trade, there is little evidence that drugs are a major source of funding for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, top drug officials told lawmakers Wednesday."In other words Asa and the gang are dragging a big red herring to distract citizens from their failures. They have been yelling war on drugs since the tricky Dick years. Now, some evil gets us that has nothing to do with drugs, so they must tie it in with the war they have been fighting. Unfortunately for them this has nothing to do with drugs, so they resort to innuendo and rhetorical monkey tricks to establish a link.Stop this Bullsh*t. The attack on 9/11 can be directed attributed to poor homeland security and poor foreign policy. Forget about the drug link. It is a lie. It might get some more people on the anti-drug bandwagon, but better drug enforcement will not improve our safety from these kinds of terrorists.
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Comment #1 posted by bruce42 on October 03, 2001 at 12:14:34 PT
These people can't be this stupid, can they? It is common knowledge that Afghanistan and Pakistan are the world leaders in opium poppy cultivation. Why is this such a big suprise all of the sudden? Granted "terror- ism, ist, etc..." are the big new buzz words in the War-on-X camp, but I mean, honsetly, how transparant are their offerings to the sheepul- "ooooOOoooOooOOOOOooo good 'ole Asa told me that those dirty ragheads are selling drugs, boy I sure am glad he's around to tell us this stuff! I new those no good junkies were a buch o commies!"And we're supposed to ooo and ahhh (think smurfs) and swoon over how smart the gu-ver-ment is. What a load. It sure is nice to know we have to the WoD to ensure that the heroin market stays firmly in control of the Taliban and other agencies that operate in the Black Market. What joy and pleasure it gives me to know that Asa and his Merry Barbarian Band is there to protect me from myself by raiding, pillaging, and murdering!'Scuse me whilst I go puke. It's hard to stomach all of this warm and fuzzy from Asa and the gang.
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