Innovation Exchange Issue: 10 Dated: Winter 2003 Pages: 17-18
Afghanistan in the control of fundamentalist terrorists provides an instructive instance of how the drug trade can be exploited as a weapon in a war to undermine Western civilization's cherished values.
By the late 1990's poppy cultivation and opium manufacture in Afghanistan had reached unprecedented levels, accounting for some 70 percent of worldwide opium production. Experts believe that the profits from the drug sales were one of the Taliban's and al-Qaida's chief sources of funding. Further, the intercontinental smuggling routes provide avenues for terrorist organizations to diversify into other forms of international crime and to launder huge sums of "black" money. To date, the effect of the political changes in Afghanistan on world opium production levels and prices are unclear and unpredictable. Even after the Taliban's ouster, Afghanistan is likely to remain one of the world's poorest states and thus a potential source of opium poppy production, whatever the declared policy of its new rulers and their international backers. Even if Afghan production does decline, Myanmar (formerly Burma) may well exploit the opportunity to increase its own opium production and regain its former dominance of the international heroin market. Although there is no proof that the heroin consumed in Israel comes from Afghanistan, authorities should be on the alert for a shift in prices on the street and for a shortage in supply, even if only temporary.