A brand new round of "El Qaeda" warnings from Antonio Maria Costa of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime still requires a pretty big intuitive leap:
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime, says "there is more than just spotty evidence"
indicating a link between drug traffickers and terror groups.
"And before this becomes a very serious problem, it has to be dealt
with and nipped in the bud," Costa said in an interview with The
Associated Press, on the sidelines of a seven-nation drug summit in the
Senegalese capital of Dakar.
Cocaine from South America has been
moving through the West African coast for several years, and experts
believe drugs are then parceled out to smugglers who move the cocaine
north by boats and by road. One suspected smuggling route crosses
portions of the Sahara desert controlled by insurgents. The
cocaine-for-arms trade is especially worrying given the recent
expansion of an al-Quaida-linked terror group, which was once based
exclusively in Algeria but now has tentacles in Mauritania, Mali and
"There is plenty of evidence of a double flow. (Of) drugs
moving, arriving into West Africa from across the Atlantic ... and the
trading — exchange — of cocaine for arms," Costa said.
Costa did not say how extensive the cocaine-for-arms exchange was thought to be, or which countries were involved.
There seems to be an awful lot of hand-waving happening here. What we know is that drug smugglers are moving cocaine through West Africa, including regions where Al Qaeda linked militants also operate. This, in itself, may be cause for concern. But many, including prominent politicans, seem to be assuming that an established link exists when the only reported case of a suspected al Qaeda affiliate making a coke deal --again trotted out as evidence in this article -- was with someone who turned out to be a DEA agent. Until there's some more evidence, a little more cautious reporting might be in order.
In any event, if al Qaeda is getting into the cocaine business, it would seem to suggest that the organization is moving outside its core competency in order to raise money, and perhaps setting up more opportunities for authorities to infiltrate their networks.
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