US Supported Afghan Government Warlords Control World Heroin Trade 35

There is an execellent interview with former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, General Hamid Gul, here. He makes some very strong points. It is undoubtedly true that it is warlords in the US-backed Karzai government who control 90% of the world heroin trade, and that the trade has expanded to its highest ever levels under coalition control. It is undoubtedly true that US foreign policy in the region is dictated by the desire to access Central Asian oil and gas. It is also undoubtedly true that the US works closely with Mossad and with India in Central Asia, and that many of its attacks appear calculated to stir up rather than ease conflict.

Turning the focus of our discussion to the Afghan drug problem, I noted that the U.S. mainstream corporate media routinely suggest that the Taliban is in control of the opium trade. However, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Anti-Government Elements (or AGEs), which include but are not limited to the Taliban, account for a relatively small percentage of the profits from the drug trade. Two of the U.S.’s own intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, estimate that the Taliban receives about $70 million a year from the drugs trade. That may seem at first glance like a significant amount of money, but it’s only about two percent of the total estimated profits from the drug trade, a figure placed at $3.4 billion by the UNODC last year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has just announced its new strategy for combating the drug problem: placing drug traffickers with ties to insurgents ?”and only drug lords with ties to insurgents ?” on a list to be eliminated. The vast majority of drug lords, in other words, are explicitly excluded as targets under the new strategy. Or, to put it yet another way, the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government and helping them to further corner the market.

I pointed out to the former ISI chief that Afghan opium finds its way into Europe via Pakistan, via Iran and Turkey, and via the former Soviet republics. According to the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, convoys under General Rashid Dostum ?” who was reappointed last month to his government position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army by President Hamid Karzai ?” would truck the drugs over the border. And President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been accused of being a major drug lord. So I asked General Gul who was really responsible for the Afghan drug trade.

“Now, let me give you the history of the drug trade in Afghanistan,” his answer began. “Before the Taliban stepped into it, in 1994 ?” in fact, before they captured Kabul in September 1996 ?” the drugs, the opium production volume was 4,500 tons a year. Then gradually the Taliban came down hard upon the poppy growing. It was reduced to around 50 tons in the last year of the Taliban. That was the year 2001. Nearly 50 tons of opium produced. 50. Five-zero tons. Now last year the volume was at 6,200 tons. That means it has really gone one and a half times more than it used to be before the Taliban era.” He pointed out, correctly, that the U.S. had actually awarded the Taliban for its effective reduction of the drug trade. On top of $125 million the U.S. gave to the Taliban ostensibly as humanitarian aid, the State Department awarded the Taliban $43 million for its anti-drug efforts. “Of course, they made their mistakes,” General Gul continued. “But on the whole, they were doing fairly good. If they had been engaged in meaningful, fruitful, constructive talks, I think it would have been very good for Afghanistan.”

Referring to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, General Gul told me in a later conversation that Taliban leader “Mullah Omar was all the time telling that, look, I am prepared to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for a trial under Shariah. Now that is where ?” he said [it] twice ?” and they rejected this. Because the Taliban ambassador here in Islamabad, he came to me, and I asked him, ‘Why don’t you study this issue, because America is threatening to attack you. So you should do something.’ He said, ‘We have done everything possible.’ He said, ‘I was summoned by the American ambassador in Islamabad’ ?” I think Milam was the ambassador at that time ?” and he told me that ‘I said, “Look, produce the evidence.” But he did not show me anything other than cuttings from the newspapers.’ He said, ‘Look, we can’t accept this as evidence, because it has to stand in a court of law. You are prepared to put him on trial. You can try him in the United Nations compound in Kabul, but it has to be a Shariah court because he’s a citizen under Shariah law. Therefore, we will not accept that he should be immediately handed over to America, because George Bush has already said that he wants him “dead or alive”, so he’s passed the punishment, literally, against him.” Referring to the U.S. rejection of the Taliban offer to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or hand him over to a third country, General Gul added, “I think this is a great opportunity that they missed.”

Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.”

The full interview ranges more widely and is well worth reading. I was unaware that Gul had been banned from the UK and US. But I am unsurprised. I can tell you from direct inside knowledge that the UK/US view is that the ISI is riven with Al-Qaida sympathisers. This suspicion is directed at Pakistanis who are in fact not in any way Al-Qaida sympathisers, but simply ask sceptical and critical questions about the “War on Terror”.

The demonisation of such people again tends to create the very conflict and anti-Western feeling which is pretended to be the concern. In fact conflict, which the US sees itself as in a position ultimately to win militarily, tends to be the aim. General Gul evidently feels that destabilisation of Pakistan is a US strategic goal. That is certainly increasingly the result of US policy, but I doubt it is acknowledged, even internally, as an aim.

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35 thoughts on “US Supported Afghan Government Warlords Control World Heroin Trade

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  • Frazer

    To Anon

    I read your comments with interest and a good deal of humour.

    You are obviously paranoid and see shadows in corners where none exist.

    I am not the bad guy, in fact I have dedicated 15 years of my life to helping people less fortunate than myself, regardless of race , creed or religeon.

    You do not know me, yet you are frightened of people like me, I wonder why ?

    Oh, and by the way, I am an agnostic.

  • Jon

    anon: “The good guys is [sic] Islam”.

    Well, there’s a broad and sweeping statement! A case of “our religion good, yours bad”, surely?

    I have commented here on occasions about there being no one Islam, since it has variations of extreme and moderate reading just as any other belief system. I have met Islamic scholars with extreme views (see link to article I wrote in June) and I have met Muslims with specifically moderate views too. I tend to find that those towards the latter end of the spectrum would not insist that everyone should convert to Islam, or that Islam is “better” than Christianity, or Buddhism, Zoanastrianism etc. Instead, the thoughtful Muslim chaps I met whose reading of Islamic texts specifically reject extreme interpretations – there was a genuine respect for other peoples beliefs, and a moderate outlook that intends for people of all faiths and none to rub along together just fine.

    Insisting that Islam is the only way, then, works against that, in my view.

  • Ingo

    My problem with all religions is that they are used like flannels, washing off and giving absolution, or as swaddling cloth for the prevailing morals of the millenium, the believe falls to the wayside when politics and vested interests raise their ugly head.

    Add to that a strict hirarchial code with all its excesses, personal intentions and machiavellian desires and you have what we got today. Self critic is seen as heracy, if anybody remembers the debates around mkodern theological thinking between Dr. Kueng and the Catholic church, it was futile and dogma proofed to be the brake to any modern libertarian theological movement, it would have been great if Woijtila and his close advisor for 20 years then, Raztinger, realised that they could save millions of poor lives by dragging the catholic church into the 20th. cnetury, never mind the 21st.

    But it was not to be and today, riven by sexual scandals, again due to dogmatic insistence on mediaval practises, the catholic church has lost hundreds of millions due to their inappropriate sexual behyaviour with minors and anyone else for that matter, celebacy does not seem to be all the rage anymore and I detest pious morals from arch bishops who themselves have covered up for those that went against the ‘sacriments’ of the catholic church.

    Religion and politics are one unholy mixture, I leave it as that.

  • [email protected]

    Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed a hidden Fact that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the public and American Congress that President Jimmy Carter secretly authorized $500 million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and “de-stabilize” the Soviet Union…

    The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4 billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means “student”).

    These people were sent to the CIA’s spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught “sabotage skills” – terrorism.

    Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, In Pakistan; they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS.


    As America teetered on the brink of entering World War II, Charles A. Lindbergh gave a fateful speech that did more damage to the America First movement for peace than all the propagandistic efforts of the pro-war groups he named in Des Moines that day. In his oration, the great aviator and American hero sought to define who and what had brought us to the point of no return:

    “The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt administration.

    “Behind these groups, but of lesser importance, are a number of capitalists, Anglophiles, and intellectuals who believe that the future of mankind depends upon the domination of the British empire. Add to these the Communistic groups who were opposed to intervention until a few weeks ago, and I believe I have named the major war agitators in this country.”

    “The First World War was by far the bloodiest conflict in human history up to that time. Schwartz and Skinner noted, “Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a war for democracy against ‘Prussian dictatorship,’ but that was propaganda. Germany had civil rights, an elected parliament, competing parties, universal male suffrage, and an unparalleled system of social democracy.” Germany was far more democratic than either the British or French empire.”


    “The West’s policy – in other words, the policy of the Anglo-Americans, as the European Union does not have a policy worth citing – toward the Middle East has long been formulated by Bernard Lewis. The British-born Lewis started his career as an intelligence officer and has remained in bed with British intelligence ever since. Avowedly anti-Russia and pro-Israel, Lewis reaped a rich harvest among US academia and policymakers. He brought president Jimmy Carter’s virulently anti-Russian National Security Council chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, into his fold in the 1980s, and made the US neo-conservatives, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, dance to his tune on the Middle East in 2001. In between, he penned dozens of books and was taken seriously by people as a historian. But, in fact, Lewis is what he always was: a British intelligence officer. . . .

    The recent developments in Uzbekistan have all the hallmarks of the same process. This time the objective is to weaken China, Russia, and possibly India, using the HT to unleash the dogs of war in Central Asia. It is not difficult for those on the ground to see what is happening. The leader of the Islamic Party of Tajikistan, Deputy Prime Minister Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda, has identified HT as a Western-sponsored bogeyman for “remaking Central Asia”. . . .

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