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[Reproduced from _The Village Voice_, 4/15/93]
THE CIA AND HEROIN FINANCED THE MUJAHEDEEN
By Robert I. Friedman
The World Trade Center bombing is the legacy of the CIA's disastrous policy
of arming the mujahedeen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not only have Afghan
war veterans been implicated in the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history,
but mujahedeen warlords also have become the world's biggest heroin
producers, according to experts in the international drug trade.
The CIA's arms shipments and training program for the mujahedeen became one
of its most massive covert operations, costing at least $2 billion, far
surpassing U.S. support for the Nicaraguan contras. If anything, the battle
for Afghanistan motivated the CIA more than the war against the
Sandinistas. In Nicaragua, the CIA fought Soviet proxies. In Afghanistan,
the enemy was the Soviet army, which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.
Support for Nicaraguan and Afghani "freedom fighters" became the
cornerstone of the so-called Reagan Doctrine-an attempt not just to contain
Communism but to roll it back. While the contras were mostly a collection
of former dictator Anastasio Somoza's street thugs, in Afghanistan the
rebels were Islamic extremists and narco-terrorists who hated America as
much as they despised the Godless Russians.
Billions of dollars of CIA money, matched by billions from Saudi Arabia (a
quid pro quo for receiving AWAC surveillance planes over the adamant
protests of the pro-Israel lobby), were passed through the Bank of Credit
and Commerce International to the Afghan rebels. The bank was also used to
channel funds to the contras. But no matter how much money the Afghan
rebels received it never seemed to be enough. In order to augment their
funds, rebel chieftains began to grow poppies, refine opium into heroin,
and sell the drug in the U.S. and Europe. In 1979, Pakistan and Afghanistan
exported virtually no heroin to the West. By 1981, the drug lords, many
high-ranking members of Pakistan's political and military establishment,
controlled 60 per cent of America's heroin market. "Trucks from the
Pakistan army's National Logistics Cell arriving with CIA arms from Karachi
often returned loaded with heroin-protected by ISI [Pakistan's internal
security service] papers from police search," wrote Alfred McCoy in The
Politics of Heroin (Lawrence Hill, 1991).
Of the seven rebel mujahedeen leaders who operated from base-camps in
Peshawar, by far the most dominant is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received
more than $1 billion in covert U.S. aid. Hekmatyar was an obscure Islamic
fanatic before he was tapped by the CIA. Today, his forces are nine miles
from Kabul, where until recently he was engaged in bloody battles against
the Afghanshells
artillery
army-indiscriminately
on the nation's capital.
raining tens
A March
of thousands
7 Pakistani-brokered
of rockets and
peace accord named Hekmatyar Afghan's prime minister-designate.
All through the 1980s, Hekmatyar received accolades from the U.S. press,
even though Asia Watch, among others, published gory reports about his
human rights abuses. Hekmatyar brutally murdered rivals, then had their
corpses ritually mutilated. "He really did dominate the Afghan refugee

a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin. A May 1990 front-page article in The Washington Post charged that U. "They can put it in and in six months they've got a harvest. "There were preliminary reports about six months ago based on interviews with UN personnel in the region that Afghanistan by itself could produce 3000 tons of opium. According to this week's New Yorker. are Hekmatyar and the tens of thousands of Islamic holy warriors -. "A rare exultation filled the air." It's easier-and far more profitable-for the 4 to 5 million Afghans returning home from the refugee camps in Pakistan to plant poppies than rebuild their war-shattered economy. officials had ignored Afghani complaints of heroin trafficking by Hekmatyar and Pakistani intelligence. The wreckage and death caused by the blast is a depressing coda to the end of the Cold War. told the Voice." says McCoy. It's one little country and it's going to double the world's supply all by itself. indicted MahmudforAbouhalima. Ruined citrus crops.S. "Now that's nearly equivalent to the world's supply no matter how you calculate it. "Opium is the ideal solution. a plague of heroin. The CIA had won its jihad.trained and financed by the CIA -. Poppies need little tending and they will guarantee peasants an almost immediate income.S. a book about covert operations. * WRONG NUMBER FILE NAME: WTCBOMB4. 1989. however." But while Hekmatyar has inundated the U.TXT . officials have remained silent. and hundreds of thousands of casualties didn't deter the CIA from its holy war against communism in Afghanistan. his allegedaninvolvement Afghan war in vetthe and World Trade Center bombing. has watchbeen list. And thanks to the CIA's favorite freedom fighters. it was Hekmatyar who "most likely" introduced Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to the American and Pakistani intelligence officials who were orchestrating the Afghan war when the sheikh visited Pakistan just prior to moving to Brooklyn in May 1990.who are today locked in a life and death struggle with America. the Agency had won a famous victory. The last Soviet troops had left Afghanistan.camps and was known among the refugees as being willing to retaliate against anyone who challenged his political authority." The real winners. says McCoy. and Europe with the potent powder. After fifteen years of failure and humiliation. its principal cash crop before the war. never bothered to tell its readers that Hekmatyar is also among the world's biggest heroin dealers. a distinction he has enjoyed for nearly a decade. As the Voice previously reported. the CIA almost certainly facilitated the sheikh's entry into the United States as a reward for helping the mujahedeen-despite his presence on a State Department the sheikh'sterrorism driver. "On the afternoon of February 15. of course." McCoy. Afghanistan's agriculture was destroyed by the war and it will take a lot of nurturing to revive the groves of oranges." wrote Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner in Blank Check." The Times. the champagne began flowing at CIA headquarters." says McCoy. heroin addiction is again on the rise in America. Only after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989 did The New York Times criticize Hekmatyar's "sinister nature. Some experts now believe that Hekmatyar will vastly increase Afghanistan's opium harvest when he becomes prime minister.S. U. The Agency's biggest covert action since the height of the Vietnam war had achieved its goal.