Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, February 10, 2004

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Hyde Schedules Oversight Hearing Examining Links
Between Terrorism and Heroin Trade in Afghanistan

BACKGROUND: According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production accounts for more than 50 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP), generating an estimated $2 billion annually in economic activity. The Afghan government estimates that 30 percent of families are involved in some form of opium cultivation and production. This production, and associated crime, undermines security, finances terrorism and poses a grave potential for massive, drug-related, corruption at all levels in the fledgling government in Kabul. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, decrees against opium were issued, creating the impression that the Taliban were serious in the war on drugs. However, in fact, the Taliban were merely regulating the drug trade in order to share in its profits. Moreover, Al-Qaida members often provided security for the drug trade. Both then and now, people have found it easy to move between terrorism and drug trafficking. By taking on the drug war, coalition forces can make Afghanistan more secure. In a synergistic fashion, these forces will be able to develop better intelligence about the Taliban, Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and Al-Qaida by bringing the fight to them and ensure that Afghanistan does not emerge as a "narco-state."

WHAT: Oversight hearing: Afghanistan: Drugs and Terrorism and U.S. Security Policy

WHEN: 10 a.m., Thursday, February 12, 2004

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Bldg.

WITNESSES: U.S. Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, (R-IL); Robert B. Charles, Assistant Secretary, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State; William B. Taylor, Jr., Coordinator for Afghanistan, U.S. Department of State; Karen P. Tandy, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration; Thomas W. O’Connell, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, U.S. Department of Defense; and Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Director for Political-Military Affairs, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Among the questions expected to be addressed during the hearing:

To what degree are the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other anti-coalition forces in Afghanistan benefiting from the massive and growing opium and heroin trade?

Is there an appropriate role for coalition forces in Afghanistan in attacking large drug processing labs and opium storage depots in order to undercut the opium trade?

What greater role can our Drug Enforcement Administration play?

What efforts are now under consideration by the U.S. government to develop a more "unified campaign" against both illicit drugs and terrorism in Afghanistan, similar to what we have done in Colombia?

Is the U.S. Department of State adequately using the Terrorists Rewards Program to pursue both terror-related illicit narcotics and the capture of Usama bin Laden?

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