‘Narco-renditions’ in Afghanistan

Trading with the Enemy

By —— Bio and Archives--January 8, 2008

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“Dear David, I badly need your help.

Some time ago a Russian newspaper “Vremya Novostei” published a story written by Arkady Dubnov, one of the best informed Russian journalists on Central Asia, about the alleged role of the US Air Force in heroin traffic from Afghanistan to Europe.

He wrote that the US Air Force transported 85% of heroin produced in Afghanistan. Dubnov quotes anonymous Afghani sources (there are also some accusations of Karzai’s brothers who take part in this scheme).

The article also claims Afghan warlords have some deals with local US and British commanders not to liquidate the poppy plantations etc. What do you think about that? Have you ever heard about such possibilities? Best regards, Andrei.”

This is a letter I received from my Russian friend, Andrei Soldatov, a respected investigative journalist and the Managing Editor of an Internet Magazine “Agentura.ru”. Soldatov is young (in his 30’s), not a Putin crony and a very brave reporter (Dubrovka, Beslan, Chechnya, Lebanon war), who had many times clashes with the Russian special services over his objective reporting and publishing. That’s why I trust him. The only national economy of Afghanistan is virtually the narco-business—worth some $ 10 billion or more per year. I have been receiving hints since a year or so that the ISAF forces in Afghanistan, the American and the British forces there in particular (at least some units) are deep-rooted in the Afghani narco-business. It seems that the U.S. Government is tolerating it, and the British Government, too. The worse part of the whole dirty scandal is that allegedly some heroin is purchased from Taliban guerillas, in exchange for weapons. Thus, the ISAF (NATO) is selling weapons to the enemy, who later uses them against soldiers of the Alliance in battle. It is exactly the same corrupt practice that had been so popular (and still is) in Chechnya, where the Russian forces were selling Russian weapons to their enemy—the Chechen Jihadists they fought against. The main motive is, of course, money. But the Russian soldiers are poor devils, while the U.S. Air Force troops by comparison are elite, well paid and equipped.

Arkady Dubnov wrote: “Paradoxically as it is, British servicemen and their American colleagues have found themselves now dragged into the international mafia that buys drugs made in Afghanistan and smuggles them abroad.”

I wouldn’t exclude such a possibility. There could be even more opportunities for the Turkish, Albanian, Russian and other wholesale drug dealers to infiltrate Western services. Some time ago, a trusted information source told me that some CIA so called “rendition flights”, secretly executed over several years and passing through Western and Eastern Europe could be used for drug trafficking. CIA planes, beyond any control, landed in Bosnia, Kosovo, also in Poland, Romania, Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain and in other European countries. Some of these countries and territories were either mafia strongholds (for example Bosnia and Kosovo). Others were main drug markets (Germany, Britain), still others (like Poland, Romania) could be transit route countries, controlled by Russian mafia organizations. And that’s not to mention Turkey, where the ‘bubbas’ operate, distributing heroin all over Europe and beyond. 

While the international human rights organizations focused on the investigation of alleged CIA kidnapping and torture of al-Qaeda suspects and prisoners, they never paid any attention to a fair possibility that the infamous, secret and uncontrolled CIA “rendition flights” could be used to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan to Europe.

This is only an allegation, but perhaps some institutions of the European Union (EU) should pay serious attention to this other possible dark side of the CIA “renditions”.

On the Afghani side, it seems that the whole pro-Western administration of President Hamid Karzai, and also his two brothers, Kajum Karzai and Akhmed Vali Karzai, are head-to-heels involved in the narcotics trade.

Quoting an American expert, Arkady Dubnov wrote that: “The US expert who attended the Kabul conference last month [October, 2007] said that drug dealers had infiltrated Afghani state structures to the extent where they could easily paralyze the work of the government if the decision to arrest one of them was ever made.”

The ISAF military forces - American, British, German, Polish and of other European nations – are trying hard to pacify the situation in Afghanistan, fighting against the Taliban resurge offensive, while at the same time a part of them is ‘stabbing them in the back.’ One wonders why this situation is tolerated by the U.S. government and some European governments?

The answer could be easier to guess than expected:

“Some Afghani businessmen believe” – wrote Arkady Dubnov – “that the United States and the government in Kabul need trafficking to keep the Afghani financial market in shape. In other words, these revenues enable the Afghani Central Bank to maintain the local monetary unit at the proper level. Without them, it would have taken substantial financial injections from Washington.”

The same seems true for a lack of effective control over the destruction of poppy fields in Afghanistan. As the (poor) income from the poppy cultivation is the only means of subsistence of Afghani villagers, they are not interested to lose it. So far, drug dealers pay them. But if the poppy fields could be effectively destroyed (defoliated) by ISAF forces or the Karzai administration officials, the only choice left would be to charge the U.S. and European taxpayers with an additional burden to support the Afghani population.

But by allowing illegal exports of opium (and heroin) from Afghanistan (“Afghani opium reaching the international market accounts 93% of global production”) the West is funding the radical Jihad world-wide. Any other solutions in sight? It’s high time to find some.

Original Article translated to English

US AF serving Afghani drug dealers

Arkady DubnovArkady Dubnov, Vremya Novostei,
Oringinal Article

Afghani drugs are as much a pressing problem of the international community as the global warming is. Existence of the problem is recognized by everybody but a solution to it is not known. An international conference on the subject took place in Kabul in late October. According to the UN report presented there, Afghani opium reaching the international market accounts 93% of the global production. Fifty percent of Afghani drugs is produced in Gilmand on the border with Pakistan, a province where British troops are quartered.

Persuading the House of Commons to send British troops to Gilmand last year, Premier Tony Blair capitalized on the danger to Great Britain posed by Afghani heroin. Paradoxically as it is, British servicemen and their American colleagues have found themselves now dragged into the international mafia that buys drugs made in Afghanistan and smuggles them abroad.

The information this publication is based on came from various Afghani sources that cannot be identified for quite understandable reasons. All the same, indirect evidence indicates that the Western military is involved in traffic. An operation against poppy plantations was to take place in several southern and southeastern provinces of Afghanistan this May (they were to be sprayed with defoliants). Sources in administration of Kandahar and Jalalabad say, however, that commanders of the US and British contingents in these provinces made a pact with the Afghanis and cancelled the operation.

Sources point out that interests of the Western military involved in trafficking out of Afghanistan (usually by US military aviation) coincide with interests of Afghani chieftains who control poppy fields. Afghani officials say that 85% of all drugs produced in southern and southeastern provinces are shipped abroad by US aviation.

There are several ways of shipping drugs abroad. Some sources maintain that the chain begins with civilian salesmen - usually Americans acting under the cover of all sorts of non-governmental organizations and security firms. They buy “goods” from Afghani wholesale dealers and take them to military bases (usually the airfield in Kandahar). A well-informed source in Afghani security structures claims in the meantime that the American military never deals with Western civilian structures and works with local Afghani officials directly. It is these officials who deal with field commanders, from Taliban more often than not, who are in charge of drug production. The Talibs control bank accounts money is transacted to in all sorts of devious ways via the Afghanis living in the United States and West Europe.

As a matter of fact, money is not the only commodity drugs are paid with. Weapons will do too. Afghani sources claim that drugs-for-weapons barter deals with the Talibs are widely used. (One cannot help recalling the “deals” between our servicemen and the mujahedin during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.) It may be added that the mujahedin nowadays get weapons from the northern provinces to which the merchandise is smuggled in the first place from Asian states. Insiders say that a great deal of merchandise passes via Shurtepa, a settlement on the Afghani-Turkmen border. Insiders say that weapons and munitions are ferried to the Taliban-controlled provinces of Afghanistan by American or British armored vehicles.

Several explosions occurred in Kabul and in Usuzgan and Bamian (the provinces controlled by Taliban) in early November. Well-informed Afghani sources identify the targets of these explosions as the Shi’ah who control poppy fields and production of heroin. They were “punished” for the temerity of trying to deal with the American and British military directly. The explosions were arranged by the Talibs defending their “turf”. They also served as a warning to the Western servicemen to stop fooling around and deal with the Talibs only.

As for Kandahar, the British stationed there deal with drug dealers in the local power structures. The Afghanis themselves identify these latter as the brothers of the president Kajum Karzai and Akhmed Vali Karzai, Governor Asabulla Haled, and Senator Shir Mohammad. A powerful explosion rocked Akhmed Vali Karzai’s mansion in summer 2003. World media and particularly Die Deutsche Welle covered this episode extensively. What they never reported, however, was the fact that the explosion had taken place in the arsenal located on the premises of the presidential brother’s mansion. Well—informed sources claim that the explosion followed a discord over a deal between Karzai’s men and the US military. The former wanted two Stingers delivered to the mansion. One of the options suggested to the US military was that the Afghanis could pay for the Stingers with drugs…

President Karzai and his Interior Minister Akhmad Jalili had a row several years ago. Jalili was forced to resign and emigrate to the United States. Some sources imply that the row was caused by Jalili’s intention to compile a list of principal Afghani drug dealers for the UN and Interpol. Karzai apparently had valid reasons not to want the list compiled.

The US expert who attended the Kabul conference last month said that drug dealers had infiltrated Afghani state structures to the extent where they could easily paralyze the work of the government if the decision to arrest one of them was ever made.

As for the Northern Route of the traffic to post-Soviet Central Asian states, US and British servicemen are less involved with it. The north of Afghanistan is controlled by contingents from the Scandinavian countries, Italy, and other NATO states. Senior officer of Tajik security structures told this correspondent that the Russian military was directly involved. (Protection of the Tajik-Afghani border is the Tajik prerogative nowadays, but the Russian military has not exactly withdrawn from Tajikistan.) Sources in Dushanbe claim that Russian commanders retained control over the corridor used to smuggle drugs to Russia.

Some Afghani businessmen believe that the United States and the government in Kabul need trafficking to keep the Afghani financial market in shape. In other words, these revenues enable the Afghani Central Bank to maintain the local monetary unit at the proper level. Without them, it would have taken substantial financial injections from Washington.

Arkady Dubnov, Vremya Novostei, November 27, 2007, p. 5. © Translated by Ferghana.Ru

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David M. Dastych -- Bio and Archives | Comments

David Dastych passed away Sept.11, 2010.

See:David Dastych Dead at 69

David was a former Polish intelligence operative, who served in the 1960s-1980s and was a double agent for the CIA from 1973 until his arrest in 1987 by then-communist Poland on charges of espionage. Dastych was released from prison in 1990 after the fall of communism and in the years since has voluntarily helped Western intelligence services with tracking the nuclear proliferation black market in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. After a serious injury in 1994 confined him to a wheelchair, Dastych began a second career as an investigative journalist covering terrorism, intelligence and organized crime.

Other articles by David Dastych


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