Supply and demand
Drug traffickers have had no problem meeting the growing demand, at least in part because of a surge in production of opium — heroin's precursor ingredient — and other drugs from Afghanistan, with suspected ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2002, Afghanistan has re-emerged as the world's leading opium producer, accounting for about 75 percent of global production.
Again there's evidence of differing analyses: The Philadelphia Inquirer Web site reported in May 2004 that, in congressional testimony about heroin flow from Afghanistan, DEA director Karen Tandy testified about "potential links" and "possible relationships' between Afghan traffickers and terrorists.
But a senior Russian officer who monitored drug traffic from Asia told The Inquirer that "[t]he connection is absolutely obvious to us. ... Drugs, weapons, ammunition, terrorism, more drugs, more terrorism — it's a closed circle."
Heroin -- the Sword of Allah!
More recent fears of Afghanistan becoming a "narco-state" are underscored by opium continuing to be lucrative. The United Nations Opium Survey, released in November 2004, found that "[t]he yearly gross income of opium growing families was estimated at around U.S.$1,700 in 2004. The gross income from poppy cultivation per hectare amounted to U.S. $4,600, a decline by 64 percent from a year earlier, but still almost 12 times higher than the gross income a farmer could expect from one hectare of wheat (U.S. $390)."
A hectare is 2.47 acres.
The weather has made such opium production possible. In a Rapid Assessment Report released in March, the United Nations reported that poppy growing conditions are better this year than in 2004.
"It is expected that more water will be available for the irrigation both of rain-fed and irrigated areas, due to the large amount of snow in many parts of Afghanistan in January 2005," the report said. " ... This could have a positive effect on agricultural production, possibly including higher yields of wheat and opium."
Rachel Ehrenfeld, a Defense Department consultant and author of "Funding Evil," a 2003 book on the complicity of terrorist organizations in the distribution of illicit drugs in the United States, told MSNBC TV's Dan Abrams that drug ties to terrorism are an old story now being refreshed.
"This has been going for many, many years, actually. It has been a major tool of the Islamist organizations in their fight against the West. It's a very good tool as far as they're concerned," said Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center of Democracy, based in New York.
"Not only does it provide them with huge amounts of money; it also helps to corrupt the targeted countries to create health hazards, ruin the economy, and corrupt officials," Ehrenfeld said.
And, we're seeing some of those corrupt officials here -- that's what the Sibel Edmonds case is about -- and they're seeing some corrupt officials "across the pond" in the UK, as well.
(Please note that, for telling the truth about how terrorism is financed, Dr. Ehrenfeld is the target of a legal jihad that seeks to silence not just her, but others as well. If you enjoy the right of free speech, and wish to be able to tell the truth about those who seek to kill and enslave us, please visit Dr. Ehrenfeld's website; there, you will learn more about the funding of terrorism, and there you can make a tax-deductible contribution to her work and to the legal counterjihad.)
Other opium supply sources aren't half a world away, either: According to State Department estimates of illicit drug production in Mexico in 2003, acreage used for opium poppy cultivation increased to 11,900 acres, almost twice what it was the year before.