Funded primarily by drugs, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and the remnant Taliban are benefiting from Afghanistan’s record opium poppy crop, which provides most of Europe’s heroin supply, says French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Alliot-Marie said the situation requires a “more muscular approach to eradication and to the surveillance of banking networks,” United Press International reported.

With estimates of between $1 billion and $2 billion in drug revenues flowing into their pockets, warlords are trying to keep their distance from Kabul’s central authority, the minister said.

“These vast amounts of drug money have the potential for funding the acquisition by terrorists of CBRN weapons – chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear,” she said, according to UPI. “The international weapons black market is also fueling terrorism and political upheavals in different parts of the world.”

Western countries “must also fight against all the frustrations that are the source of terrorism – despair, poverty and injustice – that also lead to the recruitment of terrorists in universities who rebel against the injustices they perceive,” she said.

Alliot-Marie said the differences between the French government and the Bush administration have been exaggerated but also “exacerbated today by certain radical neoconservative ideas, the very antithesis of European sensibilities.”

As reported in October, terrorists in Saudi Arabia have been closely cooperating with drug traffickers. The Saudi-owned London newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted sources saying the terrorists raised more than $500 million through illegal narcotics trafficking and have used the money to purchase weapons and explosives.

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