Bin Laden and a truck full of dope?

January 30, 2010

Despite overwhelming evidence that terrorism is funded by zakat payments and other traditional revenue streams of Islam (see here, here, here, here), the U.S. attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara perceives a world of symbiosis between terror and…drugs.

Mr. Bharara sees the connection as being so intense that he has disbanded his office’s old terrorism unit—which had successfully prosecuted culprits of the first World Trade Center bombing and the East Africa embassy bombings in the 1990s—and is replacing it with a new, merged, “Terrorism and International Narcotics” unit.

See excerpts below, or the whole story here, from the New York Times:

The United States attorney in Manhattan is merging the two units in his office that prosecute terrorism and international narcotics cases, saying that he wants to focus more on extremist Islamic groups whose members he believes are increasingly turning to the drug trade to finance their activities.

United States Attorney Preet Bharara is merging two divisions in his Manhattan office.

Some Western law enforcement and intelligence agencies have long pointed to what they say are the symbiotic relationships that sometimes exist between terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers, from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Hezbollah in the Middle East to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC…

By merging the units, Terrorism and National Security and International Narcotics Trafficking, Mr. Bharara said he is combining two groups that have developed many of the same skills — working overseas, often using classified information, to build complex cases against sophisticated targets…

The move effectively doubles the number of prosecutors in the office handling terrorism cases as it prepares for the trial of the self-described mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and four other former Guantánamo Bay detainees. It is a major undertaking that will unquestionably prove to be a significant draw on the unit’s resources…

[T]wo government officials who track counterterrorism issues played down the notion of a recent increase in narcotics activity by Islamic extremists. One, a senior Obama administration official, said that most extremists were reluctant to get involved with people outside their group who do not share their ideology. But he noted that as the need for financing grows, such concerns recede.

But officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration, who have worked closely with the narcotics prosecutors in Mr. Bharara’s office, say the growing use of Africa as a route to move hundreds of tons of cocaine from South America to Europe has underscored the problem.

One of the officials, Derek Maltz, who heads the D.E.A.’s Special Operations Division in Virginia, which works with more than a dozen other law enforcement and intelligence agencies to stymie major traffickers that operate across international boundaries, acknowledged that the increase was difficult to quantify.

But he added, “Every day, in my position I see more and more examples — real examples — either through credible informants or actually investigative activity, where you start to see different groups involved with drug traffickers”…

The original terrorism unit in the prosecutor’s office was the first of its kind in the nation, and its lawyers were long the pre-eminent terrorism prosecutors in the nation, winning convictions in the first World Trade Center bombing case and the bombing case stemming from Al Qaeda’s 1998 attacks on United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, among others.

The new unit comes into being at a time when the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn has brought a series of terrorism cases that some officials say have equaled or outpaced recent cases brought by its counterpart in Manhattan, something that would have seemed unimaginable in years past.

The Brooklyn office has obtained indictments against the Denver airport shuttle bus driver arrested this fall in a Qaeda bomb plot and against two of his associates. It has also won the cooperation of a Long Island man who spent months in Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and took part in two attacks against American troops, and has dismantled the United States fund-raising operations of the Tamil Tigers, a Sri Lankan terror group.

Gretchen Peters, whose book “Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda” was published in May, said her research showed a long history of Qaeda involvement in the drug trade.

But she noted that the group’s senior cadre served more as facilitators, setting up meetings between traffickers and other powerful figures in the region.

“It’s wrong to think that you’re going to find Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri driving a jingle truck full of dope down the Kandahar highway,” she said.

Good line, Ms. Peters!


  1. Osama bin Laden Blasts U.S. for Global Warming, Pizza:


  2. Well, there is another net of drugs between Venezuela and Sahel/Sahara funding Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Planes have been found in the area full of cocaine. But experts think that the shipments are regular and often.

    I really think these are good news. In fact, it’s about time someone tries to fight the connection between drugs and terrorism.

    • Have you noticed the OIC member state in south American subcontinent ? if you have ignored the Islamic pocket in American neighborhood, then do take one more look…. because it will also be opening a human slavery/trafficking gateway !

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