"In which context, it is perhaps unfortunate that the "Air America" people have (presumably unintentionally) named themselves after the CIA's heroin trafficking operation in Southeast Asia (the subject of a movie which, in a better world, would have crushed Mel Gibson's career before it took root). The well-meaning liberal radio types must be taking lessons from these guys."And, well, it reminded me that we had soldiers and the CIA on the ground in a region w/ somewhat similar characteristics as Laos and Cambodia, just w/o the jungle. Which prodded memories of 'once upon a time' articles we all heard and read back in November '01, similar to this: Britain and USA plan to buy Afghan opium crop:
"BRITAIN and America are to devote tens of millions of pounds to an attempt to end Afghanistan's notorious heroin trade.So, I'm curious. If we understood going in that heroin was a problem, and we were planning to buy the crop in its entirety, or in some other way deal with countering opium farming, why do we get this, from January '04 Washington Times: Osama bin Laden: a 'heroin dealer' and 'narco-terrorist':
One option being considered is to buy this year's entire opium harvest at black market prices - on the condition that farmers then plough up their poppy fields and sow a different crop.
The move to tackle the menace of heroin came as disturbing new evidence emerged that warlords of the Northern Alliance are conniving in the renewed planting of poppy fields under the cover of war."
"'It seems clear to me heroin is the No. 1 financial asset of Osama bin Laden,' Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, told The Washington Times. 'There is a need to update our view of how terrorism is financed.Oh, the quotes above are courtesy of this interesting site: Opioids : past, present and future.
'And the view of Osama bin Laden relying on Wahhabi donations from abroad is outdated. And the view of him as one of the world's largest heroin dealers is the more accurate, up-to-date view.'
Mr. Kirk wants a pronounced shift in how the Bush administration tries to stop al Qaeda funding. Up to now, Washington has focused on bin Laden's traditional sources: Islamic charities and his family fortune.
But the Bush team has choked off much of that flow, forcing bin Laden to adjust. In Afghanistan, bin Laden has the benefit of the world's largest poppy crop, as he evades capture in Pakistan's notorious border areas.
He is reaping $24 million alone from one narcotics network in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to Mr. Kirk's investigation."
"Another company reputedly owned by bin Laden is the 'Wadi al-Aqiq' Company, an export-import firm. For many years, bin Laden owned and ran the Taba Investment Company Ltd., which deals in global stock markets. He was also part-owner of the "el-Shamal Islamic Bank" in Khartoum, a joint effort with the NIF, in which bin Laden is said to have invested $50 million."And from the same document (published September '01) comes this tidbit:
U.S. Senator John Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that there are strong indications that bin Laden's al-Qaida network has profited handsomely from the opium trade. Al-Qaida militants have frequently been deployed as smugglers or as guard details for smugglers.
Opium, used in the manufacture of heroin and morphine, has an added attraction for terrorists because such drugs head to the United States and lead to problems such as addiction and crime, he said. "That's part of their revenge on the world," Kerry said. "Get as many people drugged out and screwed up as you can."