In a previous post, Sibelology, Part 3 of 2 I make the following remark in the context of the the Sibel Edmonds case:But what was that about Kurdish separatists? How might they fit in to this picture?
Oh, I can think of tons of ways... three hundred sixty-three tons of ways, to be exact.
That reference is to 363 tons of one hundred dollar bills, shrink-wrapped pallets of money, twelve billion dollars of cash flown into Iraq aboard C-130's during the reign of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
The Kurds were only some of the recipients of that cash. Since there was no accountability, terrorists and militias on all sides got some, as did corrupt elements associated with the occupation -- contractors and even some military members were coming back Stateside with duffle bags full of cash, money that belonged to Iraq and that was denominated in fresh, crisp US $100-bills.
But having all these parties benefit is only a factor in keeping the corrupt pipeline open and the money flowing. One additional purpose was the laundering of drug money.
There were legitimate reasons to go to war with Iraq in 2003; indeed, there had been for over a decade, ever since the end of the first Gulf War, as Iraq consistently failed to meet the requirements of the cease-fire agreement.
But, there were no significant ties to Al Qaeda, an organization which made takfir, and thus an enemy, out of Saddam Hussein, an apostate by Wahhabi standards. Neither was the Iraqi WMD program about to deliver nuclear weapons into Hussein's hands. Contrast that to Osama bin Laden, who already had nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union, and who was at one end of a pipeline for nuclear weapons technology that started in the United States and led through the Turkish Deep State, Pakistan and other places to the caves of Tora Bora.
In short, while there were immediate dangers and important reasons to press the hunt for bin Laden in 2002, there was no clear and present danger from Iraq. That notwithstanding, as early as 2002 forces needed in Afghanistan to bring bin Laden to justice were being diverted to the build-up for war in Iraq, even as the world was being told that war with Iraq was not inevitable.
Some elements of the Taliban had been against the heroin industry, but when it became seen as one way to wage jihad against the infidel West by destroying the lives of our young people, while generating wealth that could be used to fuel the military battle to retake Afghanistan from US and allied forces, the brakes came off, and production of heroin became a legitimate form of jihad for the faithful. When our narcotrafficking allies, the Northern Alliance, came to power in Afghanistan following the US invasion, the pandora's box there was open for heroin trafficking -- if one side didn't control a poppy field, somebody else would, but the opiate production would grow, and the heroin pipeline would be opened wide.
Production was already picking up in 2002 as the decision was made that Iraq would be invaded in 2003. Furthermore, it could be anticipated that production in Afghanistan would reach new heights by 2003-2004, so the time to act was now: it wouldn't serve certain business interests to have that heroin pipeline clogged up anywhere, and instability in Iraq would help the flow to market by opening up an alternative route.
Much of Afghanistan's opiate production at the time still had to be sent to Turkey for refining, and the main way to Turkey was across Iran. Specifically, opiates generally had to be moved through Kurdish regions of northwestern Iran and eastern Turkey. One alternative route from Iran into Turkey was through Kurdish-held regions of northern Iraq, so motivation was present for certain elements of the PKK and certain elements in Turkey to bury the hatchet and cooperate for a greater good: narcomoney.
The Left screams about oil as the reason for the war in Iraq, and oil certainly plays a part. Some on the Left scream about profiteering, and this, too, was a big factor in the invasion. But, consistently overlooked are the ties between corrupt elements in the US government and heroin-trafficking cartels in Central and Southwest Asia. One important reason for the Iraq invasion was to destabilize the region sufficiently to create the conditions necessary for the movement of the new bumper crops of opiate products from Afghanistan to Turkey, and 363 tons of US money were flown in to Iraq to pay for it all -- profiteering, terrorism and instability, heroin, everything -- with untainted money.
PBS Frontline did an interview with L. Paul Bremer III in two parts during the summer of 2006:
L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer served as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004.
The first words of that interview name some important names:
Tell me the story of how you get this job.
I was contacted by two people -- Paul Wolfowitz, who is deputy secretary of defense, and Scooter Libby, who was the vice president's chief of staff, both of whom I'd known for decades -- who asked if I would be interested in being considered to go over and run the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA]. I said, "Well, I've got to talk to my wife," who managed to restrain her enthusiasm at this prospect, I have to say, but in the end agreed....
Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer and Scooter Libby need to be indicted. The charges include, but are by no means limited to, aiding and abetting terrorism, racketeering and narcotics trafficking, and treason.
Since Scooter Libby was working for Vice President Dick Cheney at the time this was arranged, the Vice President needs to be investigated as well.
We return to Makarenko for the last two paragraphs of this part of Makarenko's paper, The Crime–Terror Continuum: Tracing the Interplay between Transnational Organised Crime and Terrorism. These paragraphs are extremely important for a variety of reasons; here I use them to hammer home the most important point of this post, and will leave the other meanings for a later time:
Although terrorist groups have commonly been associated with trafficking in illicit narcotics, they have also engaged in a wide variety of other crimes such as fraud, counterfeiting and human smuggling. According to Rohan Gunaratna, Al Qaeda's financial network in Europe, dominated by Algerians, is largely reliant on credit-card fraud . Gunaratna quotes that nearly US$1 million a month has been raised from these alternative criminal avenues. Furthermore, European security agencies have admitted that prosecuting terrorists engaged in credit-card fraud has been a daunting task because 'al-Qaeda's cadres are continually learning new techniques to evade detection' —illustrating the extent to which Al Qaeda has manipulated processes of globalisation and its networked organisation. Terrorist groups have similarly used the trade in counterfeit products as a source of profit. According to Ronald Noble, Secretary General of Interpol, paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, and Albanian extremist groups are heavily engaged in moving counterfeit products, from cigarettes to computer software .
As the 1990s progressed and both criminal and terrorist groups incorporated economic and political capabilities into their remit, many groups lost sight of their original motivations and aims. Thus at the start of the twenty-first century a growing number of groups have simultaneously displayed characteristics of organised crime and terrorism. Furthermore, in assessing the development of these hybrid organisations, it is evident that the motivations, organisation, and operations of criminal and terrorist groups have also converged—thus making it analytically difficult to make a distinction between the two phenomena.
Again, this is not a unidimensional nexus, but rather a shadow realm, and I put it to you that this convergence of organized crime and terrorism has mixed with "legitimate" political and business interests and generated a mafia that reaches into the highest levels of the US government: in both parties, in the Executive and Legislative branches of government, among elected, appointed and career officials alike.
Vast tracts of the Washington elite are rotten to the core, in bed with terrorists, heroin traffickers, slave runners and spies who steal US nuclear technology and sell it to the highest bidder.
Concluding with another quote from the interview with Paul Bremer:
You talked with the president about all of this?
Yes, I did. The most important conversation I had was at a one-on-one luncheon that he invited me to about 10 days before I went to Baghdad. I had not met the president before. He was very open, and we discussed quite a lot -- China and the Middle East and so forth. I found him very well informed. There was no detail missing.
But then we got to Iraq, and I basically said, "I'm going to need some help." He said, "How can I help you?" I said: "Two ways. Number one, we're going to need time to make this happen. It's going to be really tough." ...And he said very clearly, "I'll give you whatever time you need. I'm not going to be dissuaded by the polls or by the pundits or by the election cycle," because this was, of course, in May of 2003, so about a year and a half before he would have been up for re-election. I said, "I need to be sure I have adequate authority to carry out the job you're giving me." ...And he said: "Don't worry. I understand that. We'll fix that."