AFGHANISTAN REPORT; Congressional Record Vol. 156, No. 113
(Senate - July 29, 2010)

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[Pages S6512-S6513]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           AFGHANISTAN REPORT

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, the Senate Caucus on International 
Narcotics Control has been studying the evolving counternarcotics 
efforts in Afghanistan and has found that the Taliban has morphed into 
a hybrid--it is one part terrorist organization, one part global drug 
trafficking cartel.
  The Taliban's terrorist operations are increasingly fueled by its 
substantial narcotics profits, with as much as $169 million coming from 
a single heroin trafficker in a 10-month period.
  In Afghanistan, the convergence of terrorism and international drug 
trafficking is strikingly similar to what we have witnessed in 
Colombia. There, profits from the cocaine trade has kept the Marxist 
terrorist group known as the FARC going for the past 46 years.
  These hybrid organizations are the face of 21st century organized 
  In just one counternarcotics operation in October 2009, a major 
laboratory in Kandahar province in Afghanistan was raided. Sixteen 
Taliban were killed.
  Roughly 1.8 metric tons of opium and heroin were seized at the lab--
along with improvised explosive devices, IEDs, IED bomb-making 
materials, and Taliban training manuals.
  The Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, took down 25 heroin 
processing labs in Afghanistan in fiscal year 2009. All of them had 
ties to the Taliban.
  In December 2009, before the House Armed Services Committee Karl W. 
Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan testified that:

       The cultivation of poppy and the trafficking of opium 
     without a doubt has the most debilitating effect of Afghan 
     society, feeding corruption and undermining the legal 
     economy, while generating funds for the insurgency.

  Systemic corruption at all levels of the Afghan government remains a 
problem fueled by the drug trade.
  The two largest income-generators in Afghanistan are estimated to be 
drugs and bribes, accounting for $2.8 billion and $2.5 billion per 
year, respectively, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime 
report: ``Corruption in Afghanistan,'' January 2010.
  Together, that is equal to about half of the country's legitimate 
GDP. This shocking figure clearly identifies the two biggest problems 
in Afghanistan: drugs and corruption.
  Additional resources for the counternarcotics mission are now being 
developed after it was determined that drug trafficking clearly 
supports the insurgency.
  However, experts agree that it may take many years to get the drug 
trade in Afghanistan under control.
  Meanwhile, as the U.S. military plans to scale back its presence 
starting in summer 2011, civilian personnel will remain to continue to 
support Afghans.
  So the question comes: Will the civilian counternarcotics forces in 
Afghanistan have enough personnel and equipment to continue meaningful 
operations without the U.S. military?
  As part of the Drug Caucus review, I asked that we identify which 
programs and tools work, and which ones don't.
  This report makes several recommendations, including: Increasing the 
capacity of the Afghan counternarcotics forces; continuing U.S. support 
for alternative livelihood programs and evaluating new program 
proposals; clarifying U.S. policy on eradication; increasing dedicated 
assets for air support of counternarcotics missions prior to the U.S. 
military drawdown; utilizing narcotics investigations as a tool to root 
out and prosecute corrupt Afghan officials; and suggesting policymakers 
develop a counternarcotics plan as soon as possible for when the 
military-to-civilian ratio changes.
  Let me highlight one of the report's nine findings and 
recommendations. This finding involves narco-terrorism investigations.
  In addition to hearing testimony, we have spoken to experts from the 
Departments of Justice, State, and Defense, nonpartisan think tanks, 
and intelligence community officials.
  All agreed that it is essential to remove the leadership of the 
Afghan narco-cartels from the deadly mix of drug money and terror.
  However, the Afghan judicial system is not capable of prosecuting and 
incarcerating high-value narcotics kingpins.
  The good news is that there is a legal vehicle for U.S. law 
enforcement to remove these high-value targets.
  In March 2006, as part of the Patriot Reauthorization Act, the United 
States enacted title 21 United States Code section 960a.
  Known as the Federal narco-terrorism statute, this law gives DEA the 
authority to pursue narcotics and terrorism crimes committed anywhere 
in the world--if a link can be established between a drug offense and a 
terrorist act or group.
  This statute can be applied worldwide. It has been particularly 
effective in combating major drug violators in Afghanistan.
  These are the violators who are providing weapons and other 
substantial resources to the Taliban for use against American and 
coalition forces, and against the innocent civilian population of 
  DEA currently has two 13-agent units--the Bilateral Investigations 
Unit and the Terrorism Investigations Unit--which address this type of 
  The Bilateral Investigations Unit primarily pursues cases of drugs 
being exported to the United States, and has been responsible for 
successfully investigating and convicting major Mexican and Colombian 
drug traffickers.
  The Terrorism Investigations Unit investigates international criminal 
organizations that use illicit drug proceeds to promote and finance 
foreign terrorist organizations and acts of terror, pursuant to title 
21 U.S.C. Sec.  960a, narco-terrorism.
  Agents with the Terrorism Investigations Unit have produced 
impressive case results, including: obtaining the first conviction 
under the new narco-terrorism law, against Khan Mohammed. Captured by 
DEA and Afghan Counternarcotics Police in Nangarhar Province in October 
2006, Khan Mohammed was convicted in May 2008 in U.S. District Court in 
Washington, DC. He received two life sentences for selling narcotics 
and intending to use the proceeds to purchase rockets to attack the 
U.S. military base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
  Indicting Haji Juma Khan and coordinating his arrest and expulsion 
from Indonesia on October 23, 2008. He was placed into DEA custody and 
transported to New York, where he awaits trial. He is one of the 
world's most significant heroin and opium traffickers, who provided 
direct support to

[[Page S6513]]

the Taliban from his drug trafficking revenue.
  The Terrorism Investigations Unit worked in Afghanistan to capture 
Haji Bashir Noorzai, who was the world's largest heroin trafficker and 
one of the five original founding members of the Taliban Ruling Shura 
in Kabul. He was convicted in the Southern District of New York and is 
now serving a life sentence.
  In December 2009, a Terrorism Investigations Unit investigation 
confirmed that al-Qaida is becoming increasingly involved with the drug 
trade, when Federal prosecutors in New York charged three people with 
ties to al-Qaida and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, in Africa 
with narco-terrorism for conspiring to transport 500 kilograms of 
cocaine belonging to the FARC across Africa and into Europe.
  This case marks the first time that associates of al-Qaida have been 
charged with narco-terrorism offenses, as well as the first prosecution 
of crimes related to drug trafficking in support of terrorism in sub-
Saharan Africa.
  Based on the success of these investigative units and the conditions 
in Afghanistan, I believe it is important to stand up a new team to 
focus directly on Afghanistan.
  By providing funding for an Afghanistan team, the existing Terrorism 
Investigations Unit would be able to continue their work in Africa on 
al-Qaida-linked organizations.
  An Afghanistan team would also expand the Terrorism Investigations 
Unit's operations--currently focused in the South and East--to 
throughout the country.
  The contacts and leads they discover have produced, and will produce, 
collateral intelligence for American and coalition forces. I am 
confident that a new unit will produce additional indictments and 
convictions of Taliban members and others for narco-terrorism.
  Our findings have clearly identified that this is a program that 
works. Simply put: Narco-terrorism investigations have proven to be an 
effective tool in Afghanistan. So it should be a priority for funding 
and action.
  There's another area that should be a priority--helicopters. 
Helicopters are essential to this fight here's why:
  After all our efforts--after the recruiting and training of Afghan 
police, after developing intelligence, after following leads--the times 
comes to lawfully arrest traffickers and seize their narcotics.
  This requires a large force of law-enforcement personnel, supported 
by troops, and the counternarcotics team must be transported to the 
target location by helicopter.
  Afghanistan is unlike most countries in the world in this respect. It 
is a vast country, with a challenging geography, and little in the way 
of passable roads. So helicopters are essential.
  Unfortunately, many times there are no helicopters available, so the 
mission has to be scrubbed.
  The Drug Caucus looked into this. We found that it is critical to 
have dedicated helicopters for counternarcotics operations in 
Afghanistan. For example, last October Michael Braun, former Chief of 
Operations for DEA, told the Drug Caucus that:

       The DEA's counter narco-terrorism operations and vitally 
     important intelligence gathering missions are routinely 
     delayed, often for several days, because the DEA lacks its 
     own organic helicopter assets in Afghanistan.''

  The Government Accountability Office reported to Congress in March of 
this year that:

       Defense and DEA officials stated that airlift requirements 
     have grown beyond what was originally envisaged for the Air 
     Interdiction Unit, and they also stated they expected these 
     requirements to grow further as DEA expands into forward 
     operating bases

  Attorney General Eric Holder told me this when I asked him on March 
22, at the Judiciary Committee about the lack of air assets for 
counternarcotics operations:

       The most significant factor we face in Afghanistan is 
     helicopter lift. DEA must have adequate helicopter lift 
     capacity that is night capable and flown by veteran pilots.

  Recently, the Drug Caucus learned the following:
  There are funds available, allocated by Congress and provided to the 
State Department, for supporting other civilian agencies operating in 
Afghanistan. These funds can be used for to obtain dedicated 
helicopters for counternarcotics missions.
  There are retired Navy Sikorsky helicopters mothballed at Davis-
Monthan Air Force Base and elsewhere available at no cost.
  The State Department has a contract with Sikorsky to refurbish up to 
110 S-61 helicopters over the next 5 years.
  It will take approximately 9 months to refurbish these helicopters 
and get them to Afghanistan.
  When I learned that we have these helicopters, a signed contract with 
Sikorsky, and funds for the retrofit the helicopters were all available 
to meet the needs of the counternarcotics mission I thought great, 
``When will they be in country?''
  Unfortunately, I cannot get an answer to that question because there 
has been a hold placed on the final decision regarding these 
helicopters. A hold that has lasted several months. This is 
unacceptable. Time is of the essence. These funds must be used now to 
prepare these helicopters to get them to Afghanistan by next spring.
  I ask for the President and the Secretary of State's full support on 
this matter so, for the first time, there will be helicopters dedicated 
to U.S.-led counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan.
  Drug trafficking in Afghanistan provides more than 90 percent of the 
world's opium.
  It fuels the insurgency, corrupts public officials, and undermines 
political stability and the rule of law.
  If we are to protect coalition forces from an influx of weapons now, 
and leave Afghanistan on firm footing, we must put an end to this 
relationship between terrorism and drugs.
  In September 2009, the executive director of the United Nations 
Office of Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa had this to say:

       Like never before, the fates of counter-narcotics and 
     counter-insurgency are inextricably linked.

  On March 16 of this year at the Senate Armed Services Committee 
hearing General David Petraeus testified that:

       Another major component of our strategy is to disrupt 
     narcotics trafficking, which provides significant funding to 
     the Taliban insurgency. This drug money has been the `oxygen' 
     in the air that allows these groups to operate.

  What we have learned is that heroin is a weapon for the insurgents 
and the terrorists.
  It kills people. It ruins lives. It leads to criminal behavior.
  And it corrupts governments, putting a terrible burden and strain on 
  When he learned that a large shipment of heroin was heading to 
American cities, convicted Afghan narco-terrorist Khan Mohammed was 
recorded on a surveillance tape saying:

       Good, may God turn all the infidels into dead corpses . . . 
     whether it is by opium or by shooting, this is our common 

  There can be no question that the drug trade in Afghanistan is 
inextricably linked to terrorism. So, the drug trade there must be met 
with the same robust response, the same level of resolve, as our 
efforts against the insurgency.
  Bottom line: If we ignore the drug problem in Afghanistan we will 
fail in Afghanistan.
  Mr. President, this report may be found at http://
  I thank the Chair.