HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Afghan Drugs Linked To 'Terrorism' -UN Official
Pubdate: Tue, 18 Sep 2001
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Reuters Limited
Author: Sergei Karazy


DUSHANBE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Tajik authorities burned a haul of 
drugs smuggled from Afghanistan on Tuesday in a public display 
witnessed by a U.N. senior drug representative who said the narcotics 
trade was linked to "terrorism."

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of heroin, most of which 
makes its way to Russia and Europe across neighbouring Tajikistan and 
other former Soviet Central Asian states.

"There is a big concern...about the linkages between drug smuggling 
in this region and other forms of illegal activities, including 
trafficking of firearms and terrorism," Antonella Deledda Titchener, 
regional representative for the U.N. drug control and crime 
prevention office, told Reuters.

"In Tajikistan, all the drugs come from Afghanistan," said Deledda 
Titchener who was present when the 320 kg (700 lbs) of drugs -- which 
included 100 kg (220 lbs) of heroin -- was burned at a textile plant 
in Dushanbe.

The drugs trade is believed to be a source of financing for 
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, who are coming under pressure to hand 
over Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, wanted by the United 
States over last week's attacks on New York and Washington.

Public burnings of drugs regularly take place after seizures, but 
only after criminal cases have been concluded.

A Tajik official said the haul incinerated on Tuesday had a street 
value of $30 million in Europe.

"There is a belief that drug money is behind forms of terrorism, but 
to what extent nobody can say," Deledda Titchener said.

Tajikistan is alleged to be a base for gangs of armed insurgents 
which have regularly crossed into neighbouring Uzbekistan and 
Kyrgyzstan, fighting government troops, in recent years.

The Uzbek authorities fear they are attempting to set up an Islamic 
state in the region. Others say they are merely trying to control 
lucrative smuggling routes. Deledda Titchener sees a clear connection 
between smuggling and terrorism.

"There is no doubt that by reducing one of the two, the other will 
suffer," she said.
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