February saw a decrease in Afghanistan’s illegal production of opium.
(IP)– At a time when President Barack Obama intends to pour more troops into Afghanistan, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, called on religious leaders and the community to support the fight against poppy production while senior Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman said the drug business in Afghanistan “is related to the overall security situation, and is one aspect that needs to be addressed.”
The Afghan drug economy is dependent on its poppy trade that yields enough opium from its 37 provinces to support the world financial market. Much of the heroin coming from the poppy plant is sold in Europe illegally. A problem is that the illegal drug business “does have a relationship to terrorist activities”, according to spokesman Bryan Whitman for the senior Defence Department. The Taliban disrupts the market by imposing a 10 percent charge on economic activity.
Mr Obama’s policy of more troops has opened a flood of debate on how to proceed in that country. Lyndon LaRouche accuses the President of “militarizing a hopeless war, rather than crushing the trafficking of narcotics …” The House remains divided on troop escalation and even the President’s democrats are already calling for a change in the policy.
With the decrease of drug production in February, Mr. Eide later warned that “we could face a backlash instead of further progress”, however in order to break the dependency on the opium industry, Afghanistan would need a strong agricultural program to replace the poppy fields.
British drug legalizer and alleged money launderer George Soros, is said not only to prop up the industry financially, but also runs a mass campaign against the attack on the illicit drug market. He sees the market as necessary in keeping the financial system afloat. It was George Soros’ millions that helped pass a Californian referendum to legalize marijuana, in 1996, making California the producer for one half of marijuana sold in the United States today (LPAC). Another example of his support, according to LPAC is that he gave a $50 million personal loan to Colombian financiers back in 1990. LPAC also quotes David Borden, executive director of the Soros-funded Stop The Drug War (drcnet.org), as saying last month, “Suppose the drug war magically started to work and the trade were wiped out, or people suddenly stopped using drugs. What would happen to the economy? What would happen to countries like Afghanistan or Colombia or Mexico where a lot of the money being made is in drugs and a lot of people are dependent on that money? Or in some sectors of U.S. society.”
What the public is allowed to see of this fiasco is only a scratch on the surface of what could be an international crisis no matter which way you take it. The ordinary man cannot make a connection when United States members of Congress throw their support behind legalizing drugs, but members are all too familiar with the far reaching consequences of the industry. Many US legislators have agreed that Afghanistan’s finances are tied to drug production which is tied to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Mr Eide of the UN took a somewhat more decisive stance: “Since this industry is so intimately linked to crime, corruption, and food insecurity, the effects [of a decrease in drug production] could be wide-ranging, and very positive,” he said.
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Drug Trafficking
By Khalida Khaleel
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Robert Fannin was given full ceremony on his departure last month from his post as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, under the Bush Administration, in favor of a yet unnamed replacement to be posted by incoming U.S. President Barack Obama to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island.
Although in the country a mere 13 months, Mr. Fannin vocally opposed controversial legislation in the country which would have allowed the Dominican Air Force to shoot down suspected drug planes in flight over the country.
The Dominican Republic is a key entry and exit point for illicit material traveling from South America to Miami. Rogelio E. Guevara, Chief of Operations of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations in 2002 that the Dominican Republic is being used as a “command, control, and communications” centre for drug operations in the Caribbean, and is also used to store drugs, before onward shipment to Puerto Rico or the United States.
The U.S. State Department made its stance known via Ambassador Fannin, as well as in an official statement, that the Dominican Republic should not authorize the shooting down of aircraft suspected of carrying drugs, but should instead improve its internal policies against drug running by confiscating drug traffickers’ property at the least, (Dominican Today, reported late last year.) “ [It’s true,] we must clean up the National Police and the Armed Forces, because those things are unacceptable,” said President Fernandez earlier this month when being interviewed on El Dia.
However, problems with closing down the Dominican drug route do not stop inside the country. “Once a shipment of cocaine, whether smuggled from Haiti or the Dominican Republic by maritime, air, or commercial cargo, reaches Puerto Rico, it is unlikely to be subjected to further United States Customs inspections en route to the continental U.S.,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent Michael Vigil in testimony before Congress in 2000.
Hence, the dramatic step proposed in the Dominican Congress to stop drug traffickers’ invasion of Dominican air space. If the illicit product fails to reach Puerto Rico through the Dominican Republic, the traffickers might assume a different route. Other Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Peru, found a measure of success enforcing laws which allow authorities to down any plane violating territorial airspace and waters.
However, in the latter country, a plane of American missionaries, while in communication with one federal air tower, was shot down after not responding to the requests of another, in April of 2001. A seven-month old baby and her mother were killed, and three other Americans injured. Undoubtedly, this reinforces the argument of the State Department.
Nevertheless, Air force colonels, a local religious figure, numerous fiery editorials of journalists and ordinary honest Dominican businessmen, sanction the shooting down of planes. “It’s a disgrace,” said one cattle rancher. “Drugs are being brought into the country to destroy the people. Another country should not be able to speak regarding our own airspace.”
Top military and political officials face extradition to the United States on drug trafficking charges, compounding political tensions in what is being termed the country’s largest drug case. While Dominican President, Leonel Fernandez, says he will approve all the extraditions, he laments what is perceived as a lack of aid, on America’s, part, to reduce drug trafficking coming out of the country, specifically his own unheeded requests to the U.S. embassy to assist in the purchasing of a radar, to detect drug-laden flights. “I’ve never understood that part… this should be a mutual cooperation,” he said. “The radar is not just to protect us, it will also protect you because you are also being affected by this,” the Dominican president concluded, when speaking to Diario Libre.
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Detainees, Drug Trafficking
With the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Manuel Noriega may no longer be exempt from extradition to France for prosecution.
By Mubeen Khaleel
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not issue an immediate ruling this month in the case of Panamanian General Manuel Noriega –the only person with prisoner of war (POW) status being held on United States’ soil– who is fighting extradition to France for a 10 year additional sentence related to money laundering charges.
Mr. Noriega will remain imprisoned in the United States, until the appeals process is exhausted, although the final decision in the case rests with the U.S. State Department. Noriega’s attorneys hope the hearings will, nevertheless, reach the Supreme Court.
Appeals court judges drew the likely parallel between General Noriega and the men being held in Bagram Air Base, in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Congress “eliminated the legal underpinnings of Noriega’s argument when it passed the 2006 Military Commissions Act,” wrote AP Legal Affairs Writer, Curt Anderson about the judge’s statement. “The law created judicial procedures for enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but also could be applied to POWs and anyone else.” In effect, when Noriega first presented his case in September 2007, it was too late for him to take advantage of the POW status previously awarded him.
It is the fourth time the general has sought to halt the extradition proceedings since he completed his sentence for drug racketeering in September 2007. His attorneys insists that, according to the Geneva Convention, Noriega should be repatriated to Panama. Like France, Panama is also seeking his extradition after convicting him (in absentia) of murder, embezzlement, and corruption. His sentence of 60 years imprisonment may, however, be served in his native country under house arrest.
Conditions in the United States are reported to also have a home-like environment for those classified as POWs, unlike those being held at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants. “General Manuel Antonio Noriega frequently sees his wife and children, who make the trip to his private bungalow at a federal prison near Miami, from their home in Panama,” reported the Associated Press earlier this month. “The onetime CIA operative is a news junkie, reads voraciously about history and politics, and is working on a memoir.”
After being on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency for the better part of thirty years, Manuel Noriega was arrested after the U.S. military invasion of Panama in 1989 by George H.W. Bush, Sr., on the premise that, according to Anderson, “Noriega had become increasingly belligerent toward the U.S., ignored democratic election results and essentially turned Panama into a way station and banker for Colombia’s powerful Medellin cocaine cartel… Noriega [however], who declined repeated interview requests, has said he believes his ouster was rooted in his refusal to help the U.S. support the Contras attempting to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist government in the 1980s.”
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, World | Tags: Afghanistan, Drug Trafficking
By Safiya A. Khafidh
Islamic Post Staff Writer
“Killing of civilians under any name or reason is unforgivable,” said President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan late last month. “Winning people’s support is the key to defeating terrorism in Afghanistan,” he said. President Karzai recently made a last minute decision to join nearly 100 countries in signing the historic international treaty banning cluster bombs in Norway. According to the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC), during the period of 2001-2002, 1,228 cluster bombs, containing 248,056 bomblets, were dropped on Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai hearkened to the pleas of human rights organizations and cluster bomb victims, particularly 17 year old Soraj Ghulam Habib of Heart, Afghanistan, who had lost both legs at the age of ten due to a cluster remnant. The Afghan ambassador to Norway, Jawed Ludin, met with Habib at the 2-day Oslo conference. “I explained to the ambassador my situation and that the people of Afghanistan wanted a ban,” said Habib. Mr. Ludin said his country’s reversal was due to a provision in the treaty allowing signatory nations to engage militarily with non-signatory nations. Many nations refused to sign.
The treaty, entitled “The Convention on Cluster Munitions,” hailed by the CMC as the “most significant and humanitarian treaty of the decade,” prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions, as well as holding states accountable for assisting victims and clearing contaminated land. “What we’ve adopted today is going to create profound change,” said Norway’s foreign minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. “If you use or stockpile cluster weapons today, you will be breaking a new international norm.” The treaty must be ratified by 30 countries.
For over 40 years cluster bombs have terrorized, killed, and injured countless civilians. Handicap International says 98% of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians, of which 27% are children. Initially developed by the US, Russia and Italy, the bombs were first used in World War II by the Germans and Soviets. They have found their rightful place in the company of some of the most horrific, horrendous mechanisms of murder and torture ever conceived by mankind.
There are many different kinds of cluster bombs, but all are composed of large canisters containing small bomblets. The cluster bomb unit 26 holds 670 tennis ball sized fragments, each of which contains 300 metal fragments. When they strike flesh, pressure waves flutter through the body causing damage to soft tissues and organs throughout. Eyewitnesses have related seeing people literally nailed to the ground after being attacked by the WDU-4, which contained over 6,000 barbed metal darts that are released in the air upon detonation. However, many cluster bombs fail to detonate upon landing and can lie dormant for years until disturbed. The bombs are designed in bright colors, attractive to children who may mistake the bomblets for toys. “You cannot describe their sickly consequences,” said one survivor. “They look like sweets scattered from the sky. You don’t realize what they are until they touch you. You know it when they make you bleed. They massacre people in minutes.”
In recent months President Karzai has publicly criticized the killing and maiming of Afghan civilians, with or without cluster bombs. The Afghan president recently told a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation that the international community should set a date to end the war in Afghanistan. “If there is no deadline, we have the right to find another solution for peace and security,” the Afghani president noted. It is uncertain what outcome any prospective negotiations with the Taliban would bring about. The group reportedly rejected the proposal outright in November, as did U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack.