Pubdate: Thu, 27 Sep 2001
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company
Author: Robert S. Weiner
Note:  The writer was director of public affairs for the White House Office 
of National Drug Control Policy from May 1995 to July 2001
Bookmark: (Terrorism)


A Sept. 22 editorial called on the government to do more in the way of 
tracking the assets of terrorists, but it missed a key point: drug money.

The editorial mentioned how the Clinton administration successfully went 
after the Cali drug cartel's assets in the 1990s. But these days terrorism 
and drug trafficking around the world are linked. The attorney general has 
missed the same point when he has declared that the drug laws are better 
than the terrorism laws. Actually, he can use the drug laws to prosecute 
and track the terrorists.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of the opium poppy, the crop 
refined into heroin. Its poppy cultivation area has quadrupled since 1990. 
Despite recent claims of reductions, the Taliban government has nurtured 
the development of an infrastructure for the production of heroin "in 
contrast to several years ago when nearly all heroin refining took place 
outside the country," according to the State Department.

We could stop a huge portion of the funding for terrorism if we went after 
the money of the drug traffickers. Osama bin Laden and his network have 
cells in dozens of countries. Drug money laundering worldwide is estimated 
at $200 billion to $400 billion.

The attorney general, the secretary of state and the new drug czar should 
devote resources to find and block the funding base of the drug traffickers 
in key terrorist states such as Afghanistan and Colombia. In so doing they 
will be strengthening our national security.

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