Terrorism / Terrorisme

Drugs and the Financing of Terrorism

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / Terrorism Monitor / 2004.

The fact that the very term "narco-terrorism" appears to be too vague and counterproductive in terms of addressing either drug trafficking or terrorism - since it brings very different actors into too broad a category - has not kept most observers and politicians from resorting extensively to such a notion. Still, it is worthwhile examining the extent to which terrorism is funded by the illicit drug economy, if only to highlight the minimal role this plays in al-Qaeda's finances.

Narco-Terrorism in Afghanistan

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2004 / Terrorism Monitor.

The illicit drug economy in Afghanistan is said to be fuelling terrorism. During a 8-9 February conference held in Kabul, Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), warned of "mounting evidence of drug money being used to finance criminal activities, including terrorism," and declared that "fighting drug trafficking equals fighting terrorism." Even before that, assumptions that “narco-terrorism” would be threatening Afghanistan seem to have been widely taken as fact. For instance, French Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie declared in January 2003 that, "drugs are now the principal source of funding for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network." However, the concept of narco-terrorism is itself vague, and it is unclear exactly how it applies to the current situation in Afghanistan.

Opium. Uncovering the politics of the poppy

Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy / 2010 /Harvard University Press.

The book sets out to expose the politics of opium. In particular it explores the world’s two major regions for illicit production of opium and heroin – the Golden Triangle of Burma, Laos and Thailand and the Golden Crescent of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. These remote mountainous regions of Southeast and Southwest Asia produce more than 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opium. The book reveals how, when and why illicit opium production emerged and what sustains it. The text exposes the real drivers of the modern day trade in opium and shows why a century of international effort, and forty years of a US-led war on drugs, have failed to eradicate it.