No evidence drug profits fuel terrorists
January 11, 2002
Investigators from the Treasury and Justice Departments, the FBI and other federal agencies have finished the initial phase of their exhaustive effort to trace the financial underpinnings of the attacks that killed about 3,000 persons in New York City and Washington, DC on September 11. Despite repeated charges from pundits and politicians, including President Bush, that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization was aided and abetted by funds derived from drug trafficking, federal investigators did not mention illicit drug profits as a source of funding for the attacks.
Working from credit card receipts, ATM transactions
and other financial records, federal investigators determined
that the plot had cost about $500,000, with funds being transferred
by Al Qaeda paymasters in Germany, Pakistan, and the United Arab
Emirates to hijacking teams in place in the United States. "Investigators
are still uncertain about the origins of the $500,000 used in
the September 11 plot," wrote the Washington Post in its
exclusive report on the investigation published in early-January.
"But US intelligence officials say Al Qaeda has raised money
through means as varied as credit card fraud, diamond trafficking
and the sale of honey."
For the president and the other politicians and pundits eager to tie their tired last war to their shiny new one, better a rhetorical crusade against a favored bogeyman-the drug trade-than a complex and complicated struggle to understand the roots of Al Qaeda and its financing within the legitimate structures of the global economic system. After all, if honey is financing terrorism, someone might start asking questions about oil next.
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