Russia, Iran Sound the Alarm on ISIS Role in Afghan Heroin Trafficking

There is growing evidence that ISIS is in the process of seizing control of the enormous heroin trafficking that emanates from Afghanistan. Russian officials have been sounding the alarm about that for well over a year, and yesterday Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, according to a report that appeared in the Young Journalists Club website, said that ISIS is funded to a great extent from the smuggling of illegal drugs: “We are seeing that the benefit gained from the agriculture of narcotics in Afghanistan feeds many terrorist groups. Aid going to the ISIS also comes from the benefits gained from the smuggling of narcotics. The group are themselves smugglers of narcotics.”

On Sept. 20 of this year, Carol Adl of reported that Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told a UN Security Council session that there is increasing heroin trafficking activities by the ISIS terrorists. “There is information that a group of militants from ISIS … already control a part of the routes of illegal drug supply from the Badakhshan Province” in northeastern Afghanistan. At that session, Adl said, Churkin had urged the UN body to closely monitor the situation of drugs in Afghanistan, given that it is one of the main routes of drug trafficking into Europe. Badakhshan Province, she noted, “is especially strategic since it extends into Afghanistan’s neighbors Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Xinjiang Province in China, which could also become a militant corridor for the ISIS group.”

On Oct. 8, the Russian news agency reported that Gen. Valeri Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, announced an estimate that Afghan heroin production will have increased 20% this year over 2014. Gerasimov also said that the General Staff estimates that two to three thousand Islamic State guerrillas are currently in Afghanistan.

Almost a year earlier, in late November 2014, Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS) Director Victor Ivanov told the annual meeting in St. Petersburg of the Counternarcotics Group of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), that the enormous narcotics business in Afghanistan was a global threat to security and peace, citing the fast-developing role of the Islamic State terrorists and African coastal pirates as drug-runners. He said that ISIS was then handling the logistics for half of the heroin reaching Europe via Iraq and Africa, deriving steady financing from its drug-running. Ivanov said: “Without the elimination of large-scale Afghan drug production, there will be no settlement of the conflicts in these regions.”

Ivanov has also repeatedly noted the dependence of the world financial system on laundered drug money, and has presented programmatic proposals for the rapid industrial development of Afghanistan and the region as the antidote to the drug trade.

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