—ISI Chief highlights Afghan drug money being the main source behind terrorism in Pakistan
—Obama’s Af-Pak doctrine fails to address the issue of Drug Mafia in Afghanistan
—Indian Diplomatic Missions in Afghanistan keep drafting terror plans for Pakistan
—RAW’s terror plans executed through finances provided by Afghan drug mafia
—Xe Service set to safeguard drug transpiration across Afghanistan
By Makhdoom Babar
While the Chief of ISI, Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, while briefing a special committee of the Parliament here at Islamabad stated that Afghan soil was being used for terrorism in Pakistan and that Afghanistan’s drug money was the major financial source of funding this terrorism, he was having more than 100 percent authentic evidences to prove the same which shocked the MPs and the disclosures of the ISI boss shocked many of them, belonging to the ruling alliance , reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that the clandestine community across the world is alarmed by the findings of the latest drugs survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that reveals that the volume of the drug money that is generated from Afghanist touches nothing less than three trillion US Dollars per year. Contrary to the belief that an American military presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia would discourage the illicit trade in narcotics, recent studies by the ODC have confirmed that Afghanistan's drug trade has actually risen to new heights. It has not only successfully recovered from the opium ban, imposed by the former Taliban regime but has in fact surpassed all previous records of opium production in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban imposed ban, Afghanistan's share of the global opium yield in 2001 diminished to 10% in 2001 from approximately 70 % the year before. However, according to the latest ODC data, the share of Afghanistan in world's drug trade has again skyrocketed to 92%. Once, while presenting the World Drug Report at the National Press Club in Washington, the then UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said, "Afghanistan's drug situation remains vulnerable to reversal because of mass poverty, lack of security and the fact that the authorities have inadequate control over its territory," Investigations carried out by The Daily Mail in this direction reveal that in addition to opium poppy cultivation, another serious development, which has further complicated the situation, is the emergence of a large number of heroin laboratories in Afghanistan. While previously Afghanistan was responsible for the proliferation of opium poppy throughout the world, now the poppy is being increasingly processed into opium and heroin within Afghanistan. This "value-addiction" has, on the one hand, significantly increased profit margins for the drug barons and on the other hand created immense problems for the countries neighbouring Afghanistan, which are facing a tremendous surge in the influx of opium and heroin form that country. The increase in the number of seizures of opium and heroin along the Iran-Afghanistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan as compared to raw poppy seizures bear testimony to the fact that Afghan smugglers are now resorting to heroin production within Afghanistan. One has also, therefore, to look into the smuggling of Acetic Anhydride into Afghanistan from the region. Acetic Anhydride is one of the precursor chemicals, which are used in the processing of opium poppy into heroin, and its production and trade is supposed to be under strict international control in accordance with the international drug control treaties. Against the backdrop of these developments, the following questions intrigue one's mind: (i) why action has not been taken by the Karzai government and the US-led coalition to address the situation? And (ii) what role the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to sensitize the international community to this grave situation is playing? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions expose a glaring contradiction between the professed commitment to the cause of drug control at the international level and the actual policy being followed by the important players at the international scene.
The Daily Mail's investigations further indicate that despite the serious security implications of the increased drug trade from Afghanistan as well as the socio-economic hazards associated with heroin and opium addiction which is receiving a boost due to increased availability of these drugs in the international markets, the US-led coalition and the Karzai government have closed their eyes to the poppy cultivation and heroin production supported by Afghanistan's warlords in control of various provinces of the country where Kabul literally has no control.
It is of great concern that the members of the Northern Alliance, who are known for their direct links to the production of opiates, constitute a considerable portion of the government at all levels. Ironically, Northern Alliance members in the Interior Ministry are now responsible for counter-narcotics operations. Furthermore, high-level officials in Kandahar, Helmand, and the Defence Ministry are also reportedly tied to the drug trade.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that Mr. Izzatullah Wasifi, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was arrested by the US authorities from Caesars Palace California along with his wife Fereshteh Bebahani on 15th July 1987 for the trafficking of high quality heroin. Wasifi was sentenced for three years and 8 month while his wife was sentenced to three years probation. However after the formation of Karzai government at Kabul, Izzatullah Wasifi was made the Governor of Farah province of Afghanistan and later, in 2008, his brother, Hamid karzai, appointed him as the all powerful Chief of Afghanistan’s General Independent Administration of Anti-Corruption with responsibilities to prevent the Opium growth and Heroin production and its illicit export. Keeping in view, it is nothing stunning to notice that the person who many years back was a drug trafficker is today Afghanistan’s chief anti-drugs trafficking officer.
The Daily Mail’s findings further reveal that after being made Governor of Farah province in 2001, Izzatullah Wasifi, who used to be anchor between the Afghan drug barons and the Western drug buyers and who himself used to run drug trafficking operations, established close links with some four governors of Karzai government and formed a new, huge and comprehensive drug network. Getting investments from foreign allies, Wasifi established a massive chain of the Heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. He later came up with the proposal of forming of an all power full General Independent Administration anti-corruption with responsibilities to check heroin production and its trafficking and his brother, the Afghan President, wasted no time to appoint him the chief of the said department. According to underworld informants, Wasifi today is considered to be the world’s biggest heroin producer and trafficker with an estimated annual income of around a trillion US dollars. According to some reports, his ex-wife Fereshteh Bebahani, who was convicted with him for drug trafficking in 1987 and now lives in Los Angles, California, is also one of his associates and books orders for the supply of heroin to the US and Latin America.
The Daily Mail’s findings reveal that the US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) has declined to pursue the eradication of opium poppy crops under the pretext that the activity was beyond its mandate of maintenance of peace and security in Afghanistan. Clearly, the US is avoiding a potential conflict with the Afghan warlords, the major beneficiaries of drug,s whose political support is essential for the sustenance of Karzai government. However, in doing so the US is ignoring the strong nexus, which exists between the drug economy and the continuing instability in Afghanistan and the growing terrorist activities in the region. The Afghan warlords have been netting huge profits from the drug trade emanating from poppy production in areas under their control. According to ODC figures, in 2009 drug revenues in Afghanistan reached US $three trillion, and amount that is much higher than the total assistance provided to Afghanistan every year by the International community.
It is not difficult to see that the Afghan warlords have a vested interest in ensuring that the State remains week in Afghanistan so that they can continue with their profit-yielding drug trade without the fear of a strong action by the central authorities. Consequently, the warlords are channelling a portion of their drug earnings to fuel terrorist activities and attacks against Karzai government and coalition Forces. Thus by giving a free-hand to the warlords and drug barons in return for their political support to the Karzai government, the US is in fact undermining its own objective of peace and security within Afghanistan.
Not only is the drug money being used in sustaining instability within Afghanistan but it is also one of the major financial sources for terrorist attacks in the neighbouring countries, mainly Pakistan. In a bid to capitalize on the political chaos and war-lord culture prevailing in Afghanistan, India for the opened four new Consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif, Heart, Jalalabad and Kandahar besides reopening an oversized Embassy in Kabul, closed after the departure of Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan. This makes Indian diplomatic representation the largest in Afghanistan., bigger even than that of the US, India does not have any big legitimate commercial interests tied to these Afghan cities, neither does it have any expatriate Indian Community nor frequent travelers to or from India and Afghanistan, seeking visas of passport assistance. Taking into account the current socio-economic and security conditions in Afghanistan, there seems to be no commercial or consular justification for India to have opened a Consulate in the small-remote Iranian town to Zahidan on the border of Balochistan province of Pakistan. These Indian consulates are actually working to strengthen bonds with the Afghan warlords and drug barons who are one and the same owing to the entrenchment of drug culture in the Afghan political structure. The Government of Pakistan has gathered sufficient evidence linking recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan with the financial assistance from the drug dealers. While training to the terrorists of The Terror Brotherhood is being provided by Indian intelligence agency RAW's personnel stationed in the Indian Consulates in Afghanistan, financing for terrorism against Pakistan is invariably being done through drug money. Disclosure of a former Interior Minister Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat about the existence of six Indian terrorism training camps in Afghanistan is a clear pointer in this direction.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the maiden horrific attacks by this narco-terrorist nexus was carried out in July 2003 on a Shiite Mosque in Quetta, Balochistan, killing 53 worshippers which was followed by a number of such attacks and sabotage activities since then.
"The US must understand the strong relationship between drug production and terrorism and should, therefore, recognize the need for strict action against drug production in Afghanistan. The US administration must redefine its priorities in Afghanistan and realize that the elimination of drug economy is an issue of peace and stability and a sine qua non for its success in the war-on-terror. I am surprised that Obama’s Af-Pak doctrine does not throw any light on the Afghan drug issue, which, to be very hones, is the main issue,” expressed Adrew Moses, a renowned US analyst, when contacted by The Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that on its part, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has to play a more proactive role in increasing the awareness of the international community about the seriousness of the drug problem in Afghanistan. While the ODC has been expressing its concern about the increased production of poppy and heroin in Afghanistan in terms of its socio-economic fallouts for Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries, the United Nations has failed to highlight the grave consequence of the illicit drug production on regional and international peace and security and its links with terrorist activities against neighbouring countries such as Pakistan. The ODC has been advocating progressive elimination of poppy cultivation from Afghanistan through the implementation of sustained alternate development programmes. However, it has chosen to keep silent vis-à-vis the existence of countless heroin laboratories in Afghanistan about which it has sufficient data (3). While the policy of alternate development is relevant to the issue of poppy cultivation, action against heroin manufacturing should be based on strict law enforcement measures as it as a purely criminal activity. To this end, the ODC must initiate a concerted campaign at the international level to increase pressure on the authorities in Afghanistan to launch an immediate offence against the criminal syndicates involved in the heroin manufacturing and smuggling business. The ODC must not shy away form its responsibility in deference to the skewed considerations and political shortsightedness to the US and the Karzai government. It must also urge the US and Karzai government to neutralize warlords' efforts to keep the evil trade alive. The influx of precursors into Afghanistan from countries such as India has also to be probed. India is the largest producer of opium into heroin, in the region. There is a need for timely measures in the larger interest of the international community.
The Government of Pakistan also needs to attend to the imperative for raising international awareness about the serious challenges of Indian-sponsored narco-terrorism from Afghanistan, Pak-Afghan warlords and their involvement in drug trade. Apart from being a victim of terrorist activities financed from Afghan drug money, Pakistan has also suffered the most from the menace of heroin addiction. With upto 1.5 million heroin addicts, Pakistan is a country with largest concentration of more proactive international strategy to flight the narco-terrorism nexus in Afghanistan. Population afflicted by this form of addiction. As such Pakistan has a strong stake in lobbying for a more proactive international strategy to fight the narco terrorism nexus in Afghanistan.
A highly credible Western intelligence agency report suggests that for the Afghan and the US government, the primary issue should be to halt this drug trafficking and to block the Drug Barons from grabbing power in Afghanistan, if these governments seriously desire to eradicate terror networks from Afghanistan and halt the financial supplies to various terrorist and extremist groups across the world.
According to Jonathan Smart, a noted American writer, Karzai government has constantly been asking neighbouring Islamic government of Pakistan to take more and more steps to bust absconding Taliban and al-Qaeda members and keeps alleging that al-Qaeda operative carry out subversive activities inside Afghanistan from across the border. However it has minimize the activities of the Drug Barons in Afghanistan who are in fact the major source of survival for the al-Qaeda operatives or other fundamentalist groups in any part of the world. Jonathan writes that Karzai government is having its eyes wide shut over the issue, without realizing that the Afghan Drug Trade had become something like IMF or the WB for the al-Qaeda or other terror groups across the globe.
According to some reports, Pakistani Intelligence agencies that have made maximum arrests of the al-Qaeda operatives and other terror groups or individuals and interrogated them comprehensively, also learnt from certain arrested accused that these groups were sufficing on the money, generated through the afghan Drug Trade. On the other side, Pakistan's Anti Narcotics authorities have often been asking the Pakistan government and Islamabad's Foreign Office to take up the drug trafficking issue with Kabul. However the Pakistan government is yet to take up this issue with Karzai government strongly and harshly as it is bent upon establishing extraordinarily cordial relation between Kabul and Islamabad. Despite the fact that Pakistan and Afghanistan governments have signed a number of accords and agreements for a joint terror combat and eradication of the menace of drug trade with Interior Ministers from both the countries holding frequent meetings, it remains a matter of prime concern for Islamabad that Kabul has not moved even an inch to counter the drug business in Afghanistan.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that to add to the miseries of Pakistan, the US officials have actually been making huge payments to the Afghan drug mafia’s “Route Guards” as protection money for safety on certain transportation routes across Afghanistan. According to the findings of a US magazine The Nation, the contractors both US and Afghan pay protection money to the Taliban (and warlords) to ensure that supply convoys are able to travel through Afghanistan without being attacked while some of these contractors have US connections and/or connections with Afghan politicians and up to 10 per cent of funds allocated for transport go for protection from attack.
These findings further reveal that a small firm awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to NCL Holdings; NCL is a licensed security company in Afghanistan.
What NCL Holdings is most notorious for in Kabul contracting circles, though, is the identity of its chief principal, Hamed Wardak. He is the young American son of Afghanistan's current defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim WardakAbdul Rahim Wardak, who was a leader of the mujahedeen against the Soviets. Hamed Wardak has plunged into business as well as policy. He was raised and schooled in the United States, graduating as valedictorian from Georgetown University in 1997. He earned a Rhodes scholarship and interned at the neoconservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. That internship was to play an important role in his life, for it was at AEI that he forged alliances with some of the premier figures in American conservative foreign policy circles, such as the late Ambassador Jeane KirkpatrickJeane Kirkpatrick.
Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, although the firm may have operated in Afghanistan before then. It made sense to set up shop in Washington, because of Wardak's connections there. On NCL's advisory board, for example, is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer. Bearden is an important voice on Afghanistan issues; in October he was a witness before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator John KerryJohn Kerry, the chair, introduced him as "a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer." It is not every defense contracting company that has such an influential adviser.
But the biggest deal that NCL got, the contract that brought it into Afghanistan's major leagues was Host Nation Trucking. Earlier in 2009, the firm, with no apparent trucking experience, was named one of the six companies that would handle the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to the web of bases and remote outposts scattered across the country.
At first the contract was large but not gargantuan. And then that suddenly changed, like an immense garden coming into bloom. Over the summer, citing the coming "surge" and a new doctrine, "Money as a Weapons System," the US military expanded the contract 600 percent for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: "service members will not get food, water, equipment, and ammunition they require." Each of the military's six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360 million, or a total of nearly $2.2 billion. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10 percent of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defense minister's well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.
These findings indicate further that in this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. "It's a big part of their income," one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon's logistics contracts, hundreds of millions of dollars, consists of payments to insurgents.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that at a few routes, the Afghan drug mafia has now hired the service of the Black Water’s guards to ensure the transportation of drug shipments out of Afghanistan and Izzat Ullah Wasifi’s drug network is on top in awarding the contracts to Black Water for safe transportation of its heroin shipments to Europe and America. It makes it like you need the service of Afghan Drug to protect inward shipment in Afghanistan and at the same time, the service of Black Water’s guards are required for outward consignments.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the drug transportation from Afghanistan is set to touch new horizons soon as Blackwater’s legal woes haven't dimmed the company's prospects in Afghanistan, where it's a contender to be a key part of President Barack Obama's strategy for stabilizing the country.
Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan's troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training; aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago. Some reports indicate that the Blackwater is likely to be given the top Policing contract for Afghanistan by Karzai government
1. Tamara Makarenko: "Crime, Terror and the Central Asian Drug Trade". Makarenko is a consulting editor for Jane's Intelligence Review.
2. Hearing testimony of Bernard Frahi, chief Operations Branch of ODC, at the US House Committee on International Relations on 19 June 2003.
3. Data is available through intelligence sources of the US, UNODC own surveys and intelligence provided by neighbouring countries such as Pakistan.