October 10, 2001
CONTACT:  Bob Weiner 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700

BIN LADEN, TERRORISM AND DRUG MONEY

Statement by Robert Weiner, former Director of Public Affairs, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy;
currently President, Robert Weiner Associates Public Affairs and Issue Strategies, October 10, 2001
 

    Dirty money cooperates with dirty money; dirty projects come from dirty money.

    The Attorney General has missed a major option when he declared, several times, that the drug laws are better than the terrorism laws.  He can use the drug laws to prosecute and track the terrorists.
 
    Afghanistan until this year, when it reduced cultivation, has been far and away the world’s largest producer of the opium poppy, the crop refined into heroin, according to a State Department report (INCSR) in March 2001.  Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation area has quadrupled since 1990.  Despite recent claims of reductions, and even if true, the Taliban government has nurtured the development of an infrastructure for the production of heroin “in contrast to several years ago when nearly all heroin refining took place outside the country, ” according to the State Department.  And the reductions are likely a way to manipulate prices in the context of overwhelming existing stock.

    For a couple of days, the Taliban and the UN put out some press making the point about the cultivation reductions.   Thank goodness, over the past week, experts have seen through that.  If nothing else, if someone is a serial killer for ten years but stops the last six months, he is still a serial killer.  But it seems even that argument is unnecessary given that
existing stocks are yielding the same heroin output as always.

    As in Colombia – where the FARC, the ELN, and paramilitary extremists combine to commit more murders of civilians than in any other nation while deriving much of their funding from drug trafficking -- we can stop a huge portion of the funding of the terrorists if we go after the money of the drug traffickers – they are likely one and the same.  Colombia is the leading supplier of cocaine to the world; Afghanistan is the leading supplier of poppy for heroin.  The Taliban, which harbors bin Laden, has overseen on its land the world’s greatest growth in opium cultivation as well as heroin production and trafficking.

    It is not a coincidence and may well answer the question of where Bin Laden and those who harbor and support him may get a great part of their operational money.  We now know that Bin Laden and his network have cells in dozens of
countries, perhaps fifty, including in Europe and the United States.  Drug money laundering worldwide is estimated at
$200-$400 billion.  Blocking those monies could well be a prime way of blocking terrorists.

    The Attorney General stated that the laws allowing us to go after those who harbor drug traffickers are stronger than ones letting us confront those who harbor terrorists. He, the Secretary of State, and the President have stated that we will punish those who harbor terrorists.  Included in the investigation and prosecution of bin Laden and his network should be his and the Taliban’s connection to opium cultivation and heroin production in Afghanistan, and his cells’ connection to drug dealing and drug money laundering worldwide.  The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the new Director of Homeland Security, and the new Drug Czar (when confirmed) should supply all possible resources to find and block the funding base of the drug traffickers in key terrorist states like Afghanistan and Colombia.  In so doing they will be strengthening our national security by helping to root out the despicable perpetrators of deeds like the horrific ones in New York and the Pentagon.

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