Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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A Further Blurring of the Terrorist-Criminal Lines, and the Emerging Role of DEA
It is interesting to note the first major conviction in the United States in a drug case tied to radical Islamist movements, in this case, the Taliban. (Many more case documents can be found here.)

“As an enemy of the United States, Khan Mohammed intended to ship heroin to the United States and use profits from that trade to assist the Taliban,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “A dangerous double threat, Kahn Mohammed purchased rockets to attack American and coalition soldiers who were risking their lives to stabilize Afghanistan. The conviction of Kahn Mohammed puts an end to this source of poison and violence.”

If there remained any doubt that Islamist militants are perfectly willing to engage in criminal activity to finance their military actions, this case should dispel them. As money from donations and charities becomes harder to acquire and move safely, the easy alternative is the drug trade.

Hezbollah learned this in its heroin trafficking days a decade ago, and continues to use a range of illicit activities to fund its operations.

In addition to showing how the lines between drug trafficking and terrorism are often blurred to the point of extinction, it is important to note the role of DEA in this.

Since 9/11, DEA has not been a major player in counter-terrorism issues, until recently. As the terrorism-crime nexus has become more clear, the DEA's long history of dealing with both money movements and criminal networks has become more relevant and useful.

It was also the DEA that rolled up weapons trafficker Viktor Bout, and before that, Monzar al Kassar, another trafficker with extraordinary talents, and also one that wanted to arm the FARC.

In Colombia, the DEA has been behind the extradition of leaders of two designated terrorist organizations, both involved in the drug trade-the right-wing paramilitary AUC and the Marxist FARC.

I believe this is the future. Religious/ideological radicalism and organized criminal groups will become less and less distinguishable in the pipelines of illicit activities we see more and more.



POSTED BY DOUGLAS FARAH
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