Pubdate: Tue, 14 Aug 2007
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2007 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Sara A. Carter
Bookmark: (Terrorism)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A former director of the Drug Enforcement Administration warned
federal officials shortly after the September 11 attacks that violent
drug cartels from Mexico were teaming with Muslim gangs to fund
terrorist organizations overseas.

Asa Hutchinson, who also has been a Homeland Security undersecretary,
said that in 2001, DEA agents uncovered the link between the drug
cartels and terrorist groups but too few government officials listened.

"I think it's important to recognize that the link between terrorism
and drug trafficking exists," said Mr. Hutchinson in a phone interview
from Arkansas. "While we are fighting terrorists, we should not
neglect our fight against drug traffickers. We shouldn't neglect it,
because the link is there."

Last week, The Washington Times disclosed a confidential DEA report
substantiating the link between Islamist sleeper cells in the U.S. and
Mexican drug cartels. The report, which included several documented
U.S. investigations into the terrorist/cartel connection, stated that
Middle Eastern operatives funded terrorist groups with drug money
linked to Mexican cartels.

Furthermore, the 2005 document suggests that some Islamist terrorists
are disguising themselves as Hispanics.

In 2001, Mr. Hutchinson said, he told federal officials that
terrorists would use any internal weakness if government officials
failed to maintain adequate resources, a foolproof immigration system
and enhanced border-security measures. He became director of the DEA
just one month before al Qaeda operatives hijacked four U.S. jetliners
and killed almost 3,000 people.

"After September 11, our agents interviewed some of our sources in
Mexico," Mr. Hutchinson said. "During the course of that, they started
seeing the connection globally between terrorists and drug

During his three years at the DEA, he said, intelligence agents
discovered that Middle Eastern gangs were having pseudoephedrine, an
over-the-counter drug, shipped from China and smuggled into the U.S.
from Canada, to Mexican drug syndicates for manufacturing

These "large bulks" of pseudoephedrine were then sold to cartels and
transported with the aid of the Muslim gangs to "super meth labs" in
Mexico. The proceeds from those sales were then transferred to Middle
Eastern terrorist organizations.

"We know some of the money wound up back in the hands of terrorist
organizations in the Middle East," Mr. Hutchinson said. "It is a
partnership of convenience. The drug cartels would probably like to
distinguish themselves from terrorists, but their tactics are nearly
the same. They just may not ask what they are smuggling. They may not
know; they may not care."

Afghanistan, he said, may be one of the most obvious examples of
narcotics profits funding terrorist groups, particularly the Taliban
militia that harbored Osama bin Laden before the September 11 attacks.
According to the U.N. World Drug Report for 2007, which was issued
last month, Afghanistan is responsible for 92 percent of the opium
produced in the world last year.

"Wherever you look globally, you see extremist groups benefiting from
drug trafficking," he said. "You see the Taliban benefiting from
opium. We see money coming from drug trafficking in the United States
making its way back to terrorist groups overseas."

The 2005 DEA report includes photographs of known Middle Easterners
who "appear to be Hispanic; they are in fact all Spanish-speaking Arab
drug traffickers supporting Middle East terrorism from their base of
operations" in the southwestern United States. These "persons of
interest" use fake U.S. documents and their facility with Spanish
allows them to blend in.

"I believed that was a possibility from the time I became director of
the DEA," Mr. Hutchinson said. "It should be no surprise to anyone
that terrorists would exploit our weakness." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake