Jihad by Drugs

Farooq Sulehria


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The US media rang alarm bells at the begining of this year:'Drug money sustains Al-Qaida network'. With Osama as poster boy, Al-Qaida is the catch word these days for mainstream media in West.Because it sells.Fact of the matter,however, is: it is not mere Al-Qaida that has sustained itself through drug money.The entire network of Islamic fundamentalists engaged in terrorist activities is sustaining itself, among other sources of income, primarily through drug money.Besides Al-Qaida, according to US own State Department,12 other terrorist organisations are dealing indrugs.

The rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the post-Cold war era has attracted a lot of attention worldwide. Often it is a phenomenon seen as a political expression of Islam through terrorist methods.The September 11 events helped 'globalise' this impression.This actually is not true. The method of individual terroism is not a common feature among all the currents of Islamic fundamentalists. It in fact is one section of the Islamic fundamentalism that has resorted to the violent means in the name of Jihad. It is this Jihad branded section that has Osama as a logo. All these Jihad brand fundamentalist groups have a common bond:Afghanistan. And a common interest:drug trade.

It all started with war in Afghnaistan.The 1978 military coup in Afghnaistan, to be exact. The coup was engineered and executed by communists. It brought the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) to power. The PDPA regime promised democracy, land reforms, women liberation, education and a number of progressive measures.Though democracy was the biggest victim of the communists yet they implemented land reforms and and other progressive measures including granting of women rights. The Afghan clergy, constituting a big section of the feudal class, was hit hard by land reforms.It took up arms to resist the new reforms.The US lent help through Pakistan.Soviet Union marches in to save the 'revolution'.The Carter administration decides to give 'Soviet Union its Vietnam'. The strategy was to launch a proxy war through an army of gurellias recruited from across the Muslim world. This gurellias army was not under a single command and control.There were seven Afghan commanders leading their respective factions.The arms and training was provided by CIA, and Pakistan's ISI. Money was flowing in from 'hidden sources'.One big source was drug money.Everything was being done with CIA's aproval.Gulbadin Hikmatyar, one of the seven Afghan commanders and chief receipient of US arms and support, also became the chief drug dealer with his own heroin labs.

At the end of Afghan war in 1989, these seven groups were controlling a production of 800 tonnes of opium, more than twice the annual national production of Pakistan and Iran combined.

At the begining of 'Jihad' in Afghanistan, opium production of Afghanistan stood at 300 ton in 1982.Compared to a decade ago, this was an increase by 200 per cent.Back in 1971, the opium production in Afghnaistan was hardly 100 ton. But end of Jihad in 1989 was just begining of drug trade. The 'art' of drug trade was to reach state-of-the-art levels with fundamentalists reaching new heights of power in Afghanistan under Taliban .As the 20th century was reaching its end, the opium production has reached 3,100 ton in Afghnaistan.It had dropped from 4,600 ton in 1999 owing to dry weather.

Pakistan, Afghanistan's neighbour and base camp for these freedom fighters-cum drug lords, was the immediate victim and delineation of this Jihad by drugs phenomenon. Prior to the Afghan war even until 1980, there was not a single registered heroin addict in Pakistan.By 1989, the number of heroin addict had reached 1.7 million.The figure has not gone down since.

As the last Soviet troops crossed the Ammu Darya river into Soviet territory, the exit was celebrated at Langley (CIA's headquarter) by CIA officials.Afghanistan was abandoned from now on not merely by CIA but by the US adminstration as well.The Frankenstien, however, created by the CIA i.e Messers Al-Qaida &Co. refused to die by itself. On the contrary, the robots manufactured by the CIA, programmed to Jihad, took upon themselves to carry out Jihad wherever it was possible. Phillipines, Bosnia, Chechneya,Kashmir. And not just the countries of kafirs where Muslims were persecuted but also to Egypt,Algeria, Saudia, Tunis and Sudan where the Muslim rulers were serving the interests of USA.

The scope of Jihad had widened by now so did the Jihad budget.Many monetary pipelines had also dried meantime.The best possible and available option was to increase the dependence on drug trade.

The new groups founded during this post-Afghan Jihad period were almost entirely dependent on drug trade. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is one such group.Namangani, the IMU boss, is not just leading this Jihad outfit,but is also upto his neck into narco-trade. In 1999, 600 IMU rmed gureillas moved to Afghanistan with their families.The same year Namangani met Osama bin Laden. The IMU was facilitated by Taliban on the condition that IMU would help Taliban in their fight against Northern Alliance. In return, IMU was facilitated by Taliban to carry out its drug trade.IMU had its own labortories in Afghanistan.

Taliban , implementing the puritan Islam taht forbids drugs, had no problem with opium as on the one hand,it had become the major source of their income.They were earning $20 million through Zakat ( Islamic tax) they had imposed on opium growth. On the other hand, Taliban leadership had also 'Islamised' this 'un-Islamic' income by putting ban on hashish as it was 'consumed by Afghans and Muslims', but permitting opium as it was 'consumed by kafirs (unbeleivers) in the west and not by the Muslims.'

This was nothing new.The Lebanese-based Hizbollah had in early 1980s issued a fatwa (religious eddict) sanctioning the drug trade,saying:'We are making these drugs for Satan America and the Jews.If we cannot kill them with guns,so we will kill them with drugs'.

The effect of Taliban-IMU drug nexus led to tremendous increase in drug trafficking in Central Asian region. According to Interpol, 60 per cent of Afghan opium was reaching out through Central Asian route. Out of that, IMU is said to have a share of 70 per cent in that drug trade. Namangani using his network of members and links with Chechen fundamentalist groups has perfected the art of drug trade in Central Asia.

What is true about IMU, is true about Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) and other Muslim groups in former Yugoslavia.This aspect has msotly gone 'unoticed'.It was embarrassing as the USA and its allies were 'fighting' hand in hand with Al-Qaida and Iran against serbia.The region has paid a big price anyway.

Of late, reports by Macedonian Interior Ministery describe the nexus between terroist gropus and drug trade.Similarly, Scottish authorities released a report claiming that Albanian Islamist network have used at least $4 million in profits from heroin ,sold in European cities in 2002 to purchase weapons ,including SA-18 and SA-7 surface-to-air missiles.One Western intelligence report says that DM900 million had reached Kosovo since the guerrillas began operations and half the sum was said to be illegal drug money. The KLA was paying for weapons not just through German Mark but by heroin as well.

As early as 1994, leading British daily,Guardian , in its November 1, edition warned:'Albanian drug barons find their way around the war.' The Guardian report echoed in European press over andover again.Not just media but police investigations, inluding an investigation by Swedish police, and reports by Europen Union pointed out the connection between KLA and drug trade.Later on, the National Liberation Army (NLA),a split from KLA, got active in Macedonia.The purpose was not to protect the Albanians but to keep control over the lucrative drug trade.

Today, the civile societies across the Muslim world are held hostage by terrorist groups operating in the name of Jihad.It is the same story from Egypt's Al-Jihad to Uzbekistan's IMU.Not just the Muslim world.They have globalised their Jihad.From Philipines to Kashmir and Israel to USA, they have taken upon themselves the task of 'liberating' Muslim brethern from kafirs.In the process, they have brought misery to both Muslim world and its opressors. Drug is just one but very big aspect.

The tragedy of errors however is, Islamic fundamentalists could develop drug trade only because of their close collaboration with CIA. If the Al-Qaida & Co are guilty of running Jihad by drugs, it was CIA that promoted Jihad by drugs.Its always hard to judge who to blame: executiner of the crime or the planner.In Jihad by drug case, only history will be able to make the final judgement.



LPP (For a democratic socialist Pakistan)

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