Afghan Drug Operations Come Under Intensified Scrutiny, Spokesman Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2009 Pentagon and NATO officials are weighing options to act against Afghanistan’s poppy-producing industry in light of evidence indicating that associated illegal drug sales help to fund terrorist operations, a senior Defense Department spokesman told reporters here yesterday.
The illegal drug business in Afghanistan “does have a relationship to terrorist activities,” spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “And, so, if you’re going to address the [terrorist] problem in a holistic manner, you have to look at that as one of the elements you have to take on.”
Heroin is produced from opium-bearing poppy plants that are grown in Afghanistan. Much of that heroin is sold on the illegal drug market in Europe.
U.S. intelligence officials know that some of the profits derived from poppy cultivation and processing by drug lord-operated laboratories in Afghanistan are going into the Taliban’s pockets to finance operations against U.S., coalition and Afghan forces, Whitman said.
“And so the United States, working with the NATO ministers, have decided that it’s important to address this issue and they are doing so,” Whitman said. The drug business in Afghanistan “is related to the overall security situation, and is one aspect that needs to be addressed,” he added.