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Editor’s note: Joseph Farah’s G2
Bulletin is an online, subscription intelligence news service from
the creator of WorldNetDaily.com – a journalist who has been developing
sources around the world for the last 25 years.
Narco-terrorism costs more lives and more money than the Islamo-terror sponsored by people like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, say Western intelligence and law-enforcement sources.
But it also provides the money for those terrorists and increasingly rogue regimes like North Korea hell-bent on developing and using weapons of mass destruction.
While the American public hasn’t been paying much attention lately to the world war against illicit drugs, it is a conflict now decades long. It is waged in the Third World and even more so in the streets of U.S. cities.
More Americans lose their lives, health or livelihood under attacks of the drug trade than in the streets of Baghdad or in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan. Official figures put the U.S. 2000 death toll due to drug use at 19,698, an increase from 16,926 in 1999 (16 percent more). Drug-related emergency episodes monitored between January and June 2002 put the number of victims involved in drug episodes at 308,558 cases.
Annual damage to the U.S. economy as a result of drug abuses in 2002 was $169.7 billion. The office of National Drug Control Policy has stated $36 billion was spent on cocaine and $10 billion on heroin alone. These numbers relate to the import of 260 metric tons of cocaine and 13.3 metric tons of heroin.
By comparison, U.S. estimates of reconstructing Iraq are at annual cost of at least $52 billion. It is important to note that those alarming figures do not have the same psychological impact on the American public as figures related to terrorism such as the Sept. 11 massacre. Statistics of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration for 2001 show 15.9 million drug users during the months of the survey were between 12 and 24 years old.
Not many Americans are aware the State Department and the Department of Justice currently are trying to bring to justice a number of Mexican drug barons. The story of the Arellano Felix brothers is just one illustration of the problem.
The U.S. Attorney General’s office is preparing charges of racketeering and trafficking against the brothers and 11 other individuals from the Tijuana area. The Arellano Felix organization is allegedly behind more than 100 drug-related murders in Mexico and the U.S. As the governments of the U.S. and Mexico are cooperating in the Arellano case, the war goes on with little public coverage.
“The reality is that you learn more on the war against drugs from Hollywood than from the government or media sources,” said a Drug Enforcement Administration agent talking to G2B.
Observers of U.S. policies, especially those looking at the U.S. from the outside, wonder why the U.S. is ready to fight to protect the integrity of Kuwait, to destroy the Taliban or to topple the Saddam tyranny, while at the same time not having the same zeal to fight a clear and present danger threatening to maim and ruin more and more Americans.
The overall drug damage is mind-boggling. The facts, many argue, should alarm American lawmakers no less than the danger of a nuclear North Korea or the shaky peace process in the Middle East.
Russia, with its own tough guerrilla and anti-terror campaign, especially in the northern Caucasus, uses the military on a routine basis to fight drug growing and trade. Reviewing the Russian scene reveals officials call the threat by its true name – narco-terrorism. Moscow clearly does not separate between the two, directly connecting, within and around her borders, narco-terrorism to Islamic militant terrorism.
Analysts believe the drug threat emanating from Central and South America requires the U.S. to treat the matter with at least the same decisiveness as that of the Russians. U.N. publications and follow-ups based on the 1961 Vienna Convention on illicit drugs indicate a steady growth in the production and trafficking of cocaine. The primary market for cocaine and other drugs is North America. However, U.N. efforts including many Security Council resolutions on narcotics are regarded as a dismal failure.
Other reports reveal U.S. efforts in the battle to destroy the “narco flagship” in Colombia do not achieve appropriate results, even when some experts are claiming a 30 percent decline in export.
For nearly 20 years, the U.S. has been involved with the Colombia Plan, allocating over $1 billion a year in the last two years alone. These funds go mainly to strengthen the national police and army of Colombia.
The plan is designated to stop drug growing and trade, not falling, however, under the policy of war against terrorism. It includes questionable programs like aerial herbicide spraying with chemicals such as Roundup Ultra, manufactured by Monsanto of St. Louis, which during the Vietnam War produced the infamous Agent Orange. The plan included some 70,000 gallons a year of chemicals sprayed over 53,000 hectares and costing between $35 to $46 per gallon.
Objection to the aerial herbicide spraying began to come from indigenous Colombians and environmentalist groups claiming severe health hazards. This single program was one of the most important weapons in a war crucial to the future of Americans today and definitely in the coming generations. The anti-narco-terror campaign is actually only a byproduct of the Colombia Plan. It is being carried out by Colombian soldiers and policemen assisted by a handful of American military advisers and less than 400 civilians, most of whom are contracted pilots and mechanics.
A relative of a captured American contracted anti-drug warrior, who is being held as a hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, complained that few in the U.S. realize the complexity of the situation. He told the media how civilians, at times labeled by Latin American media as “gringo mercenaries,” are actually fighting a war vital to every American.
In addition to FARC, the narco-warriors are also faced with the left-wing National Liberation Army and the right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia. These contracted civilians remain in the shadows, away from the media. When, from time to time, some of them are killed, injured or captured, there are no yellow ribbons, VIP treatment or a national mourning when their coffins are brought back home.
In July 2001, five Americans were killed when their intelligence plane crashed. More Americans were killed, captured and injured since. A former helicopter pilot with experience in Central America, refusing to reveal his full name, told G2B: “Flying over Colombia I knew I’m fighting for my country and when fired upon I asked myself – where is the cavalry?”
Since the beginning of 2003, as the State Department has been planning to expand the Colombia Plan to other countries, more information has become available about the dimensions of the narco-terror danger in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and others. These countries are commonly described by intelligence analysts as “The Coca Club,” where the use of coca leaves is part of the culture. However, the distilled and purified product, destroying the lives of so many Americans, is meant mainly for export.
Some analysts assess that following the reality of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the administration will invest more time and resources south of the border rather than in dealings with Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea.
As the grim picture of drug reality unfolds, Peru, which during the ’80s and ’90s carried with U.S. help a successful campaign against narco-terrorism, is reporting renewed emergence of narco-terror threats. The Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Maoist group, is resurfacing with narco-terror activities.
According to one report, there are 17 drug areas in Peru alone. It is also becoming more evident narco-terrorism is spilling over from Colombia to other neighboring countries such as Venezuela and Brazil. Both countries are doing their utmost to send more troops to remote border regions where drug cartels are now shipping tons of cocaine or purified heroin destined to Mexico or via sea en route to U.S. streets.
Russia and China are busy with their own internal affairs, fighting Islamic terrorism and Asian narco-terrorism. The Russians encourage their military to combat narco-terrorism in the Caucasus as part of their main objectives there.
A recent Russian military paper says 13 Afghani warlords produce no less than 5,400 tons of ready to use opium per year. This situation is also a Pakistani problem as drugs grown in Pakistan, or moving through Pakistan to European destinations, also serve as a source for financing terrorist activity.
Countries in Africa and the Middle East are also increasing drug production, sometimes coached not only by organized crime but by terror organizations as well. This business includes money-laundering schemes and money funneling to terrorists. Although Islam does not approve the use of narcotics outwardly, it is an acceptable trade to support the movement’s goals.
In the wake of the narco-trade phenomena come the almost weekly executions in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Malaysia and other countries. Their judicial systems are busy delivering capital punishment to drug traders.
Scores of Westerners have been arrested and severely punished, including life terms in jail with horrible and almost diabolical conditions in third-world countries.
The recent beheading of four Pakistani and Yemeni drug dealers in Riyadh and Mecca was linked by a number of intelligence agencies to the attempts of the Saudi government to stop narco-terrorism. One expert discussing the situation with G2B said: “Drugs and terror are inseparable, co-joined deadly twins.”
U.S. interests should be more focused on narco-terrorism in the Western hemisphere. It is difficult, though, to separate between Western narco-terrorism dangers and those in other parts of the world.
An intelligence expert specializing in narcotics told G2B clearly the tentacles of the narco-octopus know no boundaries. He used the example of North Korea, which together with its traditional blackmail diplomacy is using drug trade to finance plans for weapons of mass destruction. The Australian law-enforcement establishment has proved this connection by intercepting and arresting drug dealers importing their deadly goods on North Korean cargo ships.
The expert also says the U.S. should not spread its global efforts too thin. According to him and others, the U.S. should encourage regional governments and powers to cooperate to deliver deadly blows to the drug trade and narco-terror – from the Golden Triangle to the Andes.
Terror analysts are convinced the term “narco-terrorism” will regain its infamous prominence, predicting the U.S. will not have a choice but to redefine President Bush’s war on terrorism and to include within this concept also the war on narcotics.