Poppy Trails of Afghan Heroin Robert Knoth & Antoinette de Jong
“If fundamentalism comes to Afghanistan, war will continue for many years, Afghanistan will turn into the center of world smuggling of narcotic drugs. Afghanistan will be turned into a center for terrorism.” (Afghan President Najibullah, in an interview with the New York Times, published a month before the mujahideen-rebels took c ontrol of Kabul in April 1992.)
Poppy Trails of Afghan Heroin Robert Knoth & Antoinette de Jong Afghanistan 1993–1996 Ukraine 2007 Somalia 1994–1998 Kosovo 1998 Afghanistan 2001 The Netherlands 2000 Pakistan 2001 Russia 2002 Tajikistan 2004 Pakistan 2003–2004 Afghanistan 2003–2004 Ukraine 2007–2009 Kyrgyzstan 2009 Albania 2008 Iran 2009–2010 Pakistan 2009–2010 Kosovo 2008 Tajikistan 2009 United Kingdom 2010 Afghanistan 2009 Pakistan 2010 Somalia 2011 Dubai 2010
The US Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] had 17 full time 足officers in Pakistan during the 1980s, who identified 40 major heroin 足syndicates, including some headed by top government 足officials. Not a single syndicate was broken up during that 足decade. (Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, 2000)
p. 35 Afghanistan 1993–1996 We squeeze all of them into the car. One of the men has both his arms in plaster: they were broken by soldiers who beat him with shovels when he tried to protect his wife. On my lap are three toddlers. A small girl blows kisses towards her injured brother, who has been hit by shrapnel. The boy’s head has been bandaged, but his wounds are already weeping through the thin cloth. In the back is the children’s mother, who has been assaulted. Every time I turn my head I look into her black rigid stare.
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;37 Afghanistan 1993â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1996
After the communist government is ousted in April 1992, the mujahideen parties compete for power. The front line runs through the heart of Kabul. Over a period of four years, 60,000 people are killed. Kabul, 1996
p. 39 Afghanistan 1993–1996
There was clearly a conflict of interest between the CIA, which wanted no embarrassing disclosures about drug links between the â&#x20AC;&#x153;heroicâ&#x20AC;? mujahideen, and Pakistani officials and traffickers and the DEA. Several DEA officials asked to be relocated and at least one resigned, because the CIA refused to allow them to carry out their duties. (Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, 2000)
p. 41 Afghanistan 1993–1996
Food distribution in Kabul. Relentless rocket attacks have driven half of the city’s one million inhabitants into exile. Aid organizations estimate Kabul has over 30,000 war widows. Kabul, 1994
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;43 Afghanistan 1993â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1996
The little wooden shops in the bazaar have hardly anything to sell. Some rice and cooking oil, brought in from other regions, and a little locally grown wheat. Ishkashem, October 2000
When [Russian] soldiers began to bring hashish, opium and even heroin home from Afghanistan, the government and media had to start to take notice. In January 1987, the government said there were 175,000 users, of whom 49,000 were on hard drugs. (John Cooley, Unholy Wars, 1999)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;45 Ukraine 2007
Masha, Odessa 2007
p. 47 Ukraine 2007
Masha’s bedroom. She was found dead in her bed six weeks after being photographed. Odessa, July 2007
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;49 Ukraine 2007
Julia and her mother Vlada (Vladimira) have prepared the fixes. With their friends and customers Lena and Sergei they squabble about who gets how much. Kiev, July 2007
By 2014, the total number of HIV-positive people will range from 478,500 under the optimistic scenario to 820,400 under the 足pessimistic one. The adult prevalence rate will be between 1.9 and 3.5 percent, depending on projection assumptions. (World Bank/International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, 2006)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;51 Ukraine 2007
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;53 Ukraine 2007
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;55 Ukraine 2007
Summer camp for people living with HIV/AIDS. There are many couples with HIV-positive men and HIV-negative women. Chernigiv, 2007
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;57 Ukraine 2007
Andrei, 27, with his girlfriend Irina, 18. Andrei is HIV positive, Irina is not infected. Chernigiv, 2007
Ukraine presents a vivid 足example of how swiftly an HIV epidemic can move beyond most-at-risk populations, and into the general population. Among the 8058 newly reported cases of HIV in the first half of 2006, 41% were women, most of them in their peak reproductive years. (UNAIDS epidemic update Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 2006)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;59 Ukraine 2007
p. 61 Somalia 1994–1998
Berbera Port, 1994
Within weeks American soldiers in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, were caught in a vicious firefight that saw helicopters shot out of the sky. Eighteen US servicemen were killed and scores more injured by men â&#x20AC;&#x153;trained by al Qaedaâ&#x20AC;?. Television channels showed footage of the body of an American soldier being dragged through the streets of the city. (Simon Reeve, The New Jackals, 1993)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;63 Somalia 1994â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1998 The scavengers are waiting. Dozens of marabous are patrolling the riverbanks like soldiers. A warm wind carries the sickly smell of decomposing bodies. In and among the shrubs, carcasses everywhere. A dead goat, its skin dried onto the bones, is lying on its side with legs stretched as if it was trying to jump. It reminds me of ancient cave drawings.
In 1995, members of al Ittihad were implicated in attacks against civilian targets in Ethiopiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two largest cities. The Ethiopian military retaliated, defeating al Ittihad through a series of battles in 1996-1997. Some former al Ittihad leaders continued to press their political aspirations through clan-based Sharia courts, and some reportedly maintained ties with al Qaeda. (Congressional Research Service, November 3, 2010)
p. 65 Somalia 1994–1998
p. 67 Somalia 1994–1998
No-man’s-land between rival factions. Mogadishu, 1998
p. 69 Somalia 1994–1998
Somalia is struggling with drought. Fariba collects water for her animals four times a day. “Eleven cows have died already. The others are too weak to walk here.” Garbahaarrey, 1996
Al-Shabab emerged from two previous Somali Islamist groups, The Islamic Union (al Ittihad al Islamiya, IU) and the Islamic Courts Union. (Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2009)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;71 Somalia 1994â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1998
The Islamist movement al Ittihad has set up a Sharia court to impose Islamic law on the territories it controls. Luuq, 1996
p. 73 Somalia 1994–1998
Some 30 tons to 35 tons of heroin from Afghanistan, the world’s top producer of the drug, flow into East Africa each year, Costa [Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director UNODC] said. Some 50 tons to 60 tons of cocaine enter West Africa annually. Heroin and cocaine have become “a sort of new currency,” Costa said. He added that the spread of drug trafficking had security implications for Africa. (Reuters Africa, December 15, 2009)
p. 75 Somalia 1994–1998
p. 77 Somalia 1994–1998
Teenage boys chewing qat. Mogadishu, 1994
Police are screening boats along the Kenya-Somalia border to curb drug smuggling. Last week, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said the force had bought three marine patrol boats for Sh800 million from the Netherlands to bolster the war on drug trafficking in Coast Province. (The Nation, April 14, 2011)
p. 79 Somalia 1994–1998
Albanian groups in Macedonia and Kosovo province in Serbia are trading heroin for large quantities of weapons for use in a brewing conflict in Kosovo, according to a report by the "Observatoire Geopolitique Des Drogues", a narcotics-monitoring group. (International Herald Tribune, June 6, 1994)
p. 81 Kosovo 1998
KLA checkpoint, Dečani, 1998
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;83 Kosovo 1998
A Serbian woman holds a picture of her husband who disappeared after fighting broke out in Kosovo. Yugoslavia, 1998
Alain Labrousse, director of a Paris-based research group that monitors global drug trafficking, said the Albanians have enlisted assistance from Serbs in neighboring villages along the Kosovo frontier to help with their smuggling operations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It shows again that money is more important than war and ethnic hatred.â&#x20AC;? (Washington Post, November 11, 1993)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;85 Kosovo 1998
Commemoration of the Battle of Kosovo Polje (Plain of the Blackbirds) in which the Serbs were defeated by the Ottomans in 1389. The battle is a focal point for Serbian nationalists. Yugoslavia, 1998
In 1998, the US State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Osama bin Laden. (Interpol Assistant Director Ralph Mutschke in a testimony to the US Congress, Committee on the Judiciary, December 13, 2000)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;87 Kosovo 1998
Serbian civil militia, 1998
In 1996, al Qaeda assumes control of Ariana Airlines, Afghanistanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national airline. Planes are used to fly drugs, weapons, gold, and personnel, primarily between Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan. (Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2001)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;89 Afghanistan 2001
The road leading west from Faizabad, the capital of Afghanistanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s northeastern province of Badakhshan, stops at the thundering Kokcha river. Travelers have to cross the river by raft or pulley bridge. Badakhshan, 2001
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;91 Afghanistan 2001
Hundreds of men have walked for days from the remote villages of Shahr-e-Bozorg district to reach a food distribution site. The World Food Program reports that six million Afghans have little or no access to food. Shahr-e-Bozorg, 2001
Mamik, 12, and Farzana, 8. After Mamik’s father died her mother remarried, but her new husband rejected his wife’s children from her first marriage. Mamik ended up living with her brother and his wife. Her eyes became infected but were never treated. When the worst of the afternoon heat is over, Farzana leads her blind friend around the village. “I can hardly see anything anymore,” says Mamik. “Just the light of the sun or a very strong lamp.” Shikhan, 2001
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;93 Afghanistan 2001
Many elderly save their share of food to give it to the children. Rassoul is ill and says he has been too weak to get up for three months. Shikhan, 2001
US missiles pound targets in Afghanistan, Sudan. Clinton said that information gathered by American intelligence showed that a network of terrorists affiliated with bin Laden was responsible for the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 257 people, including 12 Americans. (CNN, August 20, 1998)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;95 Afghanistan 2001
All the villages in Shahr-e-Bozorg have fresh childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s graves. Up to 80 percent of the men and boys have left the area in search of food and work across the mountains and the front line, in Kabul and even further away, in Iran or Pakistan. Shikhan, 2001
In the emirate of Sharjah, Afghan-based militants linked up with Victor Bout, a Russian arms dealer accused of repeatedly violating United Nations weapon sanctions. (LA Times, January 20, 2002)
p. 97 Afghanistan 2001 The Security Council … decides that all States shall take further measures: … to close immediately all offices of Ariana Afghan Airlines in their territories; … to freeze without delay funds and other financial assets of Osama bin Laden and individuals and entities associated with him as designated by the Committee, including those in the al Qaeda organization, and including funds derived or generated from property owned or controlled directly or indirectly by Osama bin Laden and individuals and entities asso ciated with him; … demands that the Taliban, as well as others, halt all illegal drugs activities and work to virtually eliminate the illicit cultivation of opium poppy, the proceeds of which finance Taliban terrorist activities. (Security Council Resolution 1333, December 19, 2000)
Ninety percent of global trade is transported by sea, and these flows are rapidly expanding: in 1996, 332 million tons of goods were transported worldwide, and by 2007, this had increased to 828 million tons. â&#x20AC;Ś Very little of this cargo can be inspected. (The Globalization of Crime, UNODC, 2010)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;99 The Netherlands 2000
The Netherlands is a transit country for crime. Dutch expertise in financial logistics and its excellent location make the Netherlands a perfect place to use existing legal nodes and networks for crime. (The Amounts and the Effects of Money Laundering, B. Unger, 2006)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;101 The Netherlands 2000
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;103 The Netherlands 2000
Ten suspects have been arrested on suspicion of importing heroin and money laundering in Rotterdam, Vlaardingen, Maassluis, Spijkenisse, Oostvoorne en Dongen. Sixty kilos of heroin was seized during a coordinated search of 26 different locations. (Police Rotterdam-Rijnmond, September 26, 2011)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;105 The Netherlands 2000
The Spangen area is a magnet for drug users and all the related problems that come with them. Rotterdam, 2000
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;107 The Netherlands 2000
On the morning of 11 September 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial passenger jets flying out of airports on the east coast of the United States. Two of the aircraft were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center in New York, with a third hitting the Pentagon in Virginia. The fourth plane never reached its intended target, crashing in Pennsylvania. It is believed that the passengers and crew overpowered the hijackers and took control of the plane. (BBC World, September 11, 2001)
p. 109 Pakistan 2001 Loose-fitting trousers, wide embroidered tops, a selection of headscarves, recording tapes, film, microphone cables, more microphone cables, flea powder, broad-spectrum antibiotics, painkillers, vitamin pills … I am packing my bags for yet another trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. I am thrilled to be going. Robert and I have prepared for this for months, and now we’re about to leave for one of the most beautiful parts of Afghanistan. Tomorrow, we will fly to Islamabad and from there we’ll travel to Peshawar, and then north to Chitral, where we will pick up a donkey caravan carrying school books across the 4,500-meter Shah Saleem mountain pass into Afghanistan. I’m watching CNN as I pack. It is September 11, 2001.
p. 111 Pakistan 2001
After 9/11, Pakistan’s religious parties organize demonstrations against the possibility of an American attack on Afghanistan. Crowds carry banners written in English: “Osama is a hero of Islam,” and “Bush trusts in military power, we trust in Allah.” Peshawar, September 2001
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;113 Pakistan 2001
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;115 Pakistan 2001
Afghans are leaving their country because of the drought. Many live in Jalozai refugee camp, but the Pakistani government is restricting aid supplies. After 9/11 hundreds of thousands of Afghans, fearing American reprisals, want to flee to Pakistan. Finally, Pakistan closes the border. Jalozai/Peshawar, 2001
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;117 Pakistan 2001
Certainly hundreds and perhaps as many as 1,000 people escaped [from Kunduz]. Hundreds of ISI officers, Taliban commanders, and foot soldiers belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al Qaeda personnel boarded the planes. The frustrated US Special Operations Officer who watched it from the surrounding high ground dubbed it "Operation Evil Airlift." (Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos, 2008)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;119 Pakistan 2001
Death, drinking, and drugs became part of the veterans’ lives forever. Drugs were essential to the survival of the soldiers. Drugs helped them to carry 40 kilos of ammunition up and down the mountains, to overcome depression after their friends’ deaths, to prevail over the fear of death. (Mark Galeotti, Afghanistan: The Soviet Union’s Last War, 1995)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;121 Russia 2002
Russian soldier on long-distance train, Novosibirskâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Rishoty, 2002
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;123 Russia 2002
Russian police seizes 8 kilos of heroin on Siberian train. Police in Novosibirsk have seized more than 8 kilos of heroin, an ITAR-TASS correspondent learnt at the Russian Internal Affairs Ministryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s press service. (ITAR-TASS, December 6, 2003)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;125 Russia 2002
Snow White nearly died from them. Now an ingenious gang of drug smugglers has been busted for stuffing them â&#x20AC;&#x201D; yes, apples â&#x20AC;&#x201D; with 82 kilos of heroin worth $14 million and driving them by truck from Kyrgyzstan to Russia, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Security Service (FSB). (Times of Central Asia, April 1, 2011)
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;127 Russia 2002
p. 129 Somalia 1996 In Nairobi Robert has managed to make arrangements for our trip to Somalia; no simple achievement. Regular air traffic to the dangerous neighboring country has stopped. Only small aircraft still fly from Wilson airport, the airport used by missionaries, safari tourists, intrepid business men and, increasingly, aid organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the European Commission Humanitarian Office shipping in medicine and emergency food. This is also the base of private traders flying big bundles of qat — a mild narcotic — to Somalia. Because of the forced expulsion of the Somali asylum seekers, Dutch nationals are now very unpopular, explains Fred Boucher of Médecins Sans Frontières. He is clearly not happy to see us, but helps nonetheless: “The situation is very tense. If you want to fly with us to Somalia, you must understand you will work completely independently from us. We do not want to be associated with you at all. You may damage our work.” He ends our meeting and says: “I need your guarantee you have $5,000. That is the cost of chartering a plane to get you out in case you get into trouble.” The Skyline aircraft chartered by MSF is loaded with sacks of wheat from UNICEF, rolls of plastic sheeting to provide some protection against the seasonal downpours, and medication for the local hospital. The flight is scheduled for Baardheere. No one flies to Garbahaarrey after what is known as “incident Garbahaarrey.” Even pilots who wouldn’t flinch at flying to Mogadishu tell us that going to Garbahaarrey would be suicidal in the current political climate. As we approach Baardheere’s gravel strip, dozens of people are waiting, among them some disturbingly young looking boys with Kalashnikovs. But they are not waiting for us. A second flight arrives and the group rushes the plane in a mad scramble as it rolls to a halt. It’s Thursday! Qat-day! For the rest of the day no work will be done. In the sticky heat of the evening the men gather to chew qat. The leaves are pulled off the stems, chewed, and eased down with endless cups of sweet tea. We rent a Land Cruiser with four-wheel drive, a driver, and accompanying guard — complete with the inevitable sunglasses and Kalashnikov — and leave Baardheere the next morning. After negotiating the rickety bridge that marks the town’s edge, we race straight through the bush on a dirt road. A red plain of uncleared land with gray prickly bushes unfolds. There is hardly any other traffic. We meet two other vehicles during the five-hour trip. Every now and then we pass a meager camel caravan, and occasionally we come across villages of dome-shaped shelters made of twigs and leaves. Pairs of miniature deer spurt along with synchronized moves, their coats sleek, with a gray-and-blue shine. There are big metallic-blue-and-green hornbills with curved beaks and birds of prey, circling slowly high above the vast bush. Compact little hogs, their tails straight up in the air, race madly ahead of our car until they cut a perfect 90-degree angle to disappear into the bush as suddenly as they appeared.
p. 130 Somalia 1996 Half an hour out of Garbahaarrey we get a glimpse of what lies ahead. A tall man holding a big yellow empty jerrican stops our car. He uses his other hand to shield his eyes from the blazing sun. “Water, please?” He has been trying to find his camels, which have wandered off looking for greenery and water. We give him water and offer a ride to Garbahaarrey, but he wants to remain in the bush to try and find his only source of income. The man turns around and disappears into the shrubs. There are dozens of gray striped flies clinging to the dark blue of his shirt.
There is nothing in Garbahaarrey. Trade has come to an almost complete standstill. The roads are unsafe because of conflicts with warlords from other clans and there is a growing threat of Islamic extremism. In the market a couple of women have displayed their merchandise, offering a pitiful pile of small unripe tomatoes and a handful of onions. Supplies are not getting through to the town and the inhabitants are worried about the lack of rain. The gou harvest, which accounts for two-thirds of the annual crop, has already failed. The second crop has not even been planted for lack of rain. Four out of every ten children under the age of five are malnourished. In the early morning, before the heat of the day, the people of Garbahaarrey walk to the edge of town. Men, women, and children follow the imam in procession along the dried-out riverbed where they pray for rain, but the sky is blue, with just a few puffs of cotton-wool clouds sailing by. After prayers the women dig down until they reach water, fill their jerricans and load them on to donkeys waiting patiently in the growing heat. One of the women, Fariba, tells me she collects water for her animals four times a day. “Eleven cows have died already. The others are too weak to walk here,” she says. The scavengers are waiting. Dozens of marabous are patrolling the riverbanks like soldiers. A warm wind carries the sickly smell of decomposing bodies. In and among the shrubs, carcasses everywhere. A dead goat, its skin dried onto the bones, is lying on its side with legs stretched as if it was trying to jump. It reminds me of ancient cave drawings. A man leads the way into the bushes until we reach the spot where a young calf has buckled to the ground awaiting its inevitable fate. A young boy, the man’s child, tries to feed it greens. “This calf and my boy drank milk from the same cow,” the man explains. “They are always together like brothers. The calf is dying and I fear for my children.” The threat of the Islamist movement is almost tangible in Garbahaarrey, the administrative center of the southwestern region of Gedo. In August Ethiopia attacked the town
p. 131 Somalia 1996 of Luuq, just 60 kilometers from Garbahaarrey, with helicopter gunships and ground forces and drove out the forces of the Islamic movement al Ittihad. The Ethiopians allege al Ittihad is involved in attacks on Ethiopian soil and is running terrorist camps. After the attack, Ethiopia withdrew its soldiers and al Ittihad moved back in. Many in Garbahaarrey fear their city will also fall to the Islamic movement. We are taken to a house where over 50 refugees now live, the women and children are all indoors, the men live and sleep outside. They have fled violence in the nearby area of Belet Xaawo, which has also come under the control of al Ittihad; the extremists are moving ever closer. Everyone is already trying their utmost to be the most righteous Muslim. According to stricter interpretations of the Koran, photographing living beings is not permitted, and when Robert takes his camera from his bag some 15 boys simultaneously bend down to pickup rocks to throw at him. The Koran schools are now crammed with students. Robert, who has made several trips in recent years, says he now sees people behaving very piously in public while he never saw them even pray before. After a lot of lobbying we have been invited to Luuq by al Ittihad. Before we leave for their territory, our travel companions unfold a cardboard box with a UNICEF logo to pray towards Mecca. It seems to help in our next encounter. We take a detour because the main road is mined. Near Belet Xaawo, close to the Kenyan border, a “technical” — a pickup with anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back — speeds towards us, leaving a trail of dust. The two cars stop nose to nose, like two rhinos hesitant before they clash. A young teenager is behind the gun, and we hold our breath as the standoff drags on. But we are lucky. The boy does not pull the trigger. Luuq is fully under the control of al Ittihad. During the Afghan war over a thousand Somalis fought with the mujahideen against the Soviets, establishing lasting links with global jihadi networks. Some of the Somali veterans of the Afghan war later joined al Ittihad and have employed the same tactics as the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sheikh Ahmed, an elderly farmer who once fought with the King’s African Rifles alongside the British in Burma during the Second World War, says the people of Luuq are happy with the stability al Ittihad has brought to the area. “I’ve lived in Luuq for 25 years. I’ve been farming all those years. Now, I am one hundred percent happy. Very happy indeed. We hope the whole of Somalia will be as peaceful as here,” he says. “During the civil war, those in control did as they pleased. Sometimes General Aideed was coming here to loot and take everything and sometimes, local people too made mistakes.” Now, says Sheikh Ahmed, Sharia law has
p. 132 Somalia 1996 been implemented. “Security is very nice. All problems have been solved. There is no more killing and looting. Even if you carry a million Somali shillings and many dollars, you can sleep on the way and still nobody will think of robbing you.” Sheikh Omar is only 31 years old but he is the acting judge of the new Sharia court, which al Ittihad has created to impose Islamic law on the territories it controls. Today, Hassan Aden is brought in front of him at his makeshift court under a majestic mango tree by the riverside. Aden is accused of looting the belongings of Mrs. Hammamur. The judge sits on a director’s chair behind a desk and takes notes. Hammamur claims she recognizes Aden and says he is part of the group of bandits who stole her money, her car, and everything inside it. But Hassan Aden swears on the Koran and is adamant that “in the name of God Almighty”, he has nothing to do with it. Judge Omar decides to let Aden walk free. “The accused has sworn on the Holy Koran and no independent trustworthy witness has been presented in front of the court,” he tells me. I’m relieved there is no amputation of hands or feet, a common punishment for thieves in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. During our stay in Luuq, Robert and I argue constantly. We are, after all, in Somalia. When in Rome do as the Romans; when in Luuq, do as the Somalis. I have fallen ill. A translucent yellowish cloud drifts in our drinking water. We boil. We filter. We disinfect with chlorine tablets. But I remain ill and dehydrate when I can’t hold any fluids. I hate it here and feel the pull of Afghanistan, where the Taliban are close to taking control of the whole country. That is where I feel I should be. While we walk around in the bazaar, we see bearded white Caucasian men with guns. They throw us angry looks and clearly do not want to socialize with us. Are they Bosnians? Chechens? For sale on the markets stalls are boxes with medicine stacked up high, originating in Karachi, Pakistan.
While we are visiting the Islamist areas, al Qaeda is already liaising with al Ittihad and buying influence in East Africa with support sent to the holy warriors from the Gulf region and Pakistan. Later, al Ittihad joins other Islamist groups to form al Shabab. By 2010, between 30 and 35 tons of Afghan heroin are passing through East Africa every year. As in other war zones, the drug trade is fueling the conflict in Somalia and narco-cash is used to extend the extremist’s reach, financing terrorism in Northern Africa and sub-Saharan states.
p. 133 Somalia 1996 Even though we have been invited by the fundamentalists, with Robert taking pictures and me breaking the strict ban on smoking by childishly sneaking off for a cigarette every now and then, we soon overstay our welcome. We are thrown out and only later really appreciate how ugly things could have turned. On our last day, as we cross over in to Kenya, we get a last glimpse of extremist “hospitality.” A young border guard very slowly draws his finger across his neck and says something I do not understand. Out of consideration, our mild-mannered guide, Farah, doesn’t explain until after we pass the border. With an embarrassed smile, he then translates: “He who cuts the throats of these Christian dogs will surely go to paradise.”
Somalia 2009: Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, addresses the UN Security Council. December, 2009. Excerpts from his speech: … “There are indeed reasons to worry. In the past Africa, already suffering from other tragedies, never had a drug problem. Today, under attack from several sides, the continent is facing a severe and complex drug problem: not only drug trafficking, but also production and consumption … … “First about West Africa: from coke trafficking to amphetamine production, West Africa, particularly Guinea-Bissau, has received a lot of attention by the Security Council, because of the 50-60 tons a year of cocaine trafficked through the region over the past few years … … “30-35 tons of Afghan heroin are being trafficked into East Africa every year. This is causing a dramatic increase in drug addiction of the worse type, namely heroin injection. This is spreading hiv, as I witnessed two weeks ago in the slums of Nairobi and Mombassa. Drug treatment facilities are badly needed and I urge donors to help …
p. 134 Somalia 2009 … “Drug trafficking is only one illicit activity in Eastern Africa. Mainly because of the dramatic situation in Somalia, the region is becoming a free economic zone for all sorts of trafficking: drugs, migrants, guns, hazardous waste, and natural resources, in addition to having the world’s most dangerous waterways because of piracy … … “We have acquired evidence that the two streams of illicit drugs — heroin into Eastern Africa and cocaine into West Africa — are now meeting in the Sahara, creating new trafficking routes across Chad, Niger and Mali. Repercussions in neighbouring countries (in the Maghreb for example) are inevitable … … “As cocaine from the West is being traded 1:1 with heroin from the East, drugs are becoming a sort of new currency in the area. Drugs not only enrich organized crime. Like in the Andeans and in West Asia, terrorists and anti-government forces in the Sahel extract resources from the drug trade to fund their operations, purchase equipment, and pay foot-soldiers … … “Drug trafficking in the region is taking on a whole new dimension. In the past, trade across the Sahara was by caravans. Today it is larger in size, faster at delivery, and more high-tech, as evidenced by the debris of a Boeing 727 found on 2 November in the Gao region of Mali — an area affected by insurgency and terrorism. It is scary that this new example of the links between drugs, crime, and terrorism was discovered by chance, following the plane crash … ”
Kosovo 1998: Robert travels through Kosovo during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Dečani/Glodane, the summer of 1998. The Kosovo Liberation Army is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia. To finance its struggle, the KLA — and to a lesser extent other parties in the Balkan wars — resort to large-scale trafficking of heroin.
p. 135 Kosovo 1998 The Serbs have attacked Pec´ in an offensive designed to push back the KLA. Many civilians, both Albanian and Serb, have fled. An Albanian newspaper reports that two young Albanian women have committed suicide after they were raped near Decˇani by Serbs. Serbian media state that the KLA responded by kidnapping ten Serbians and castrating them. In the villages it’s rumoured that the KLA has set up prison camps in Glodane where it is keeping Serbians. Friday, July 3, 1998. Past a couple of checkpoints lies Decˇani. The village is deserted. I see destroyed houses. “It stinks. It smells like decaying corpses,” says Riccardo, an Italian photographer and my travel companion. He is right. There is a heavy, sicklysweet smell. It is boiling hot. We decide to continue and take a dusty road in the direction of Riznic. Nobody in the car utters a word. We fear running into Serbian paramilitary forces and we want to remain out of sight. On the way to Riznic we come across groups of men. They are Kosovar; armed and on foot. Some are in uniform. Riznic is full of displaced refugees. We are told the village’s population has tripled. A black helicopter comes flying in low over the village center. That’s the Serbs. A door gunner wearing a big helmet with a black, mirrored visor sits ready behind his machine-gun. As suddenly as the helicopter appeared it flies away. We unsuccessfully try to find the Kosovar commander. We not only want to interview him, we also want to make sure the KLA knows we are here. Standard practice for photojournalists in war zones: you go to the most powerful person hoping they will subsequently leave you in peace to do your job as safely as possible. But we can’t find the commander and are told to leave Riznic. We decide to continue looking until we get stopped at a checkpoint near Glodane. Again, we are sent off. We pause briefly in Riznic and then we head back towards Decˇani. Halfway down the road, life seems to have regained some sort of normality. There are farmers in the fields harvesting and a woman sits on a horse-drawn-cart. This has to be a good sign. The presence of women and children in war zones is often used as a measure of security. We notice some old men in a field outside the village. They are sitting on a blanket, drinking coffee. It looks like a picnic. We stop for a chat and take some pictures. Then, out of nowhere, a red car comes speeding towards us. The roof has been roughly sawn off. With a shriek of brakes it slides to a halt. Two men in camouflage uniform jump out. Our translator walks towards them to talk, but is jumped by one of the men who starts pounding him, shouting angrily. Riccardo and I first freeze and then walk towards the translator and his attacker with the idea of pulling them apart. This gorilla stops beating our translator and moves towards us, screaming. He pulls his pistol from its holster, cocks it and aims. We shrink back. Then he points his pistol at my camera bag and pulls the trigger. He doesn’t shoot just once, but empties his entire clip into my camera bag. He reloads and then empties the next clip in to Riccardo’s bag. For a third time he reloads. I hear nothing and see nothing. Just the gun. This time I have gone too far. Now we’ll be shot dead. “Fuck off,” the man shouts. Does he shoot again? I am not sure. “Get the fuck out of here.” In 2010 the war crimes tribunal in The Hague ordered a retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, the former prime minister
p. 136 Kosovo 1998 of Kosovo. Intimidation of witnesses had undermined the earlier trial in which Hardinaj was acquitted. The indictment alleged: … “that in 1998 KLA forces under the command and control of Haradinaj, including the “Black Eagles”, harassed, beat or otherwise drove Serb civilians and Roma/Egyptian civilians out of the area between the villages of Glodane and Decˇani, and killed those civilians that remained behind or refused to abandon their homes, and that they continued to mount similar attacks on Serb, Kosovar Albanian and Kosovar Roma/Egyptian civilians … … “a makeshift detention facility at the KLA headquarters in Jablanica was established in mid-May 1998. During their detention, detainees were given very little food or water, were regularly beaten and subjected to other forms of physical mistreatment, and were denied medical treatment for their injuries. A number of prisoners at the Jablanica detention facility died as a result of their injuries, or were executed on orders of the accused … … “that a Serbian forensic crime scene team conducted an investigation in the area. The team recovered 32 i dentifiable bodies in the Lake Radonjic´canal area. They also found two bodies on the road leading to Dašinovac, approximately nine kilometers from Glodane … ”
The summer of hunger, Afghanistan 2001: The road leading west from Faizabad, the capital of Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Badakhshan, stops at the thundering Kokcha river. If we want to continue, we have to step onto a wobbly platform and get pulled across the river far below. At the other end we have a choice. We either walk or rent donkeys or horses to negotiate the mountains. We pack our luggage on donkeys and hire horses. I get a lovely gray mare called “Almond Blossom”.
p. 137 Afghanistan 2001 Where two valleys merge, we meet a group of 200 men resting at a teahouse. They have walked for two days from their village, Aspakha, and have yet another day ahead of them before they reach their goal, a food distribution center at the site of the pulley bridge. Amedi, 13, travels with the men. Since his father died he is, as the eldest son, responsible for the well-being of his mother and his four siblings. “In Aspakha we boiled wild greens for food this spring,” he says, “but now there’s nothing left.” The British charity Oxfam is trying to provide 40 kilos of wheat a month to disabled men who can’t work and to boys like Amedi who are responsible for a family. In food-for-work projects, men are hired to work on the roads to make them accessible for cars and trucks. The work is hard on the men, says Ali Ahmed, an engineer who supervises the road construction. “Not a day goes by without some of the men fainting. Some haven’t eaten in days. They are actually too weak to work,” he says.
* She doesn’t know what finally killed the child. Diarrhea and dehydration or pneumonia? “The child died from hunger,” Bibi Qibria wails. It is as if her mind can only grasp these two facts: Child died. Hunger. She cannot answer whether the child was a boy or a girl or how old it was when it died. From behind the tangerine paisley headscarf that she has pulled over her mouth, she repeats, screaming at the top of her voice: “Child died! Hunger!”, “Gerusjna! Gerusjna!,” Hunger! Hunger! It was not the first child to die. It was the third one. Her last remaining one. Child died. Hunger. In Shikhan, a village further up the mountain, Sargi Mo has lost three of her children this spring; Satbur Gul, seven, Bargi Gul, three and two-year-old Sorat Mo. Sargi Mo can still name them: she needs to remain sane and strong for her three remaining children. Sargi Mo was pregnant with Sorat Mo when the 1998 earthquake hit, collapsing the roof of her house and killing her husband. Sargi Mo’s leg was fractured — and has still not been treated — but, pregnant and injured, she had to rebuild the house herself to provide some shelter for her children. But now she is desperate. “To get food I have sold everything of any value over the winter; the kelim, the cow that produced milk, the goats.” There is still the blue plastic sheeting, a few square yards that she was given by the UNHCR right after the earthquake, but she is not sure if anybody would want to buy it. In these northern mountains of Badakhshan people don’t talk about the war. Political and military matters are of secondary importance in a place where people occupy themselves all day long with the most primary necessities of life: food and water. “Our last good year was before the earthquake, because that year was the last year we had rain,” explains Mohibullah, a farmer. During the earthquake his village fell off the mountain. The mud-brick and straw houses crumbled down the slopes. The people of Shorak-ha are trying to build a new life in a lower and safer place. It has the uninviting name of Pasha Darra, Mosquito Valley. The few hundred villagers are struggling to survive. From his pockets, Mohibullah pulls some knobbly, woody roots. “This is what we are left with to eat. During the spring we found grasses and greens, but now there is none left because of the drought.” The handful of roots has to feed eight
p. 138 Afghanistan 2001 people tonight, Mohibullah says. “The whole village spends all day up in the mountains to find these roots, sicheck, but the very little that is left is chewy and tough.” Shahr-e-Bozorg district, where Bibi Qibria’s and Sargi Mo’s villages are, is not the only place in Afghanistan suffering the misery of water shortages. The whole country is suffering the worst drought in living memory. For three consecutive years, there has not been enough rain. Taliban leader Mullah Omar has said God is punishing the Afghans for straying off the true Islamic path, and ordered people to pray for rain. In the south and southwest, the situation is so bad the area is referred to as the “hunger belt.” This year so little rain fell that the farmers don’t even trust their wheat to the parched soil, instead the last seeds are eaten, leaving nothing for next season. “We don’t have a choice,” says Mohammed Rassoul in Shikhan village. “I planted 350 kilos of wheat but harvested only 100 kilos this spring.” Rassoul and his family have long eaten their last wheat. “We only have onions left,” he says. In the village of Kol the inhabitants planted fruit trees, but there was no escape from the elements. “A strong wind blew all the mulberries onto the ground before they were ready,” says Woraz Gul. Now their chance of building up a stock of dried fruits for the winter has passed. “The fruits were unripe and dirty because they fell on the ground, but the children still stuff themselves with them. They are so hungry. We can’t stop them. Now they are all ill.” The World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have reported that “some six million Afghans have little or no access to food.” They warn of “ever-swelling ranks of refugees and internally displaced persons.” An estimated 800,000 people have fled hunger and violence in Afghanistan over the past year. The UN fears that number could double in the coming year.
The district of Shahr-e-Bozorg has some 50,000 people in sixty-three villages, but many look like ghost towns. Up to 80 percent of the men and boys have left the area, looking for food and work across the mountains and the front line, in Kabul and even further away, in Iran or Pakistan. Women and children spend most of the day wandering the fields and mountain slopes, looking for food. The women have tied keys into their long black plaits. They are to their homes and to the big heavy padlocks on the metal trunks where they keep their few belongings. Sometimes the children stay away overnight, but the women always return to the village. At dusk they sit on the rooftops until the shepherds bring in the flocks of sheep and goats from the mountain for the night. And sometimes a man who has left the village returns, or a boy. Covered in dust and lean from months of traveling. Najibullah, 18, has been away for three months before returning to his village with 7 kilos of wheat, 3 ½ kilos of rice, and enough money to buy another 15 kilos of wheat.
p. 139 Afghanistan 2001 His brother, who left with him, is not back yet. Najibullah figured his family was probably in need of his savings. “In the past three years, two of my sisters have died. What I brought back is enough to eat for another ten days.” The men and boys travel for days at a time, from village to village. This is an easy place to get lost. The steep rocky slopes turn the valleys into a claustrophobic labyrinth. Little has changed since Marco Polo traveled this area, 700 years ago. “A man can travel up to three days without finding a house or a place to eat or drink. He has to bring provisions,” he noted. The graveyards are punctuated with fresh children’s graves. Since the onset of spring, hundreds have died from hunger-related illnesses in Shahr-e-Bozorg alone. There is just one clinic, the only medical facility for all 63 villages. The closest surgical hospital, in Faizabad, is at least a day’s travel away. Money and power are of little use to the sick of Shahr-e-Bozorg: the wife of the local commander died giving birth when the placenta got stuck. But patients have stopped coming to the clinic even for less urgent medical matters. There is no qualified doctor and hardly any medication. The entire stock easily fits one shoebox. With most of the roads closed, supplies are not getting through. Fierce fighting continues between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban forces.
More disturbing than the children’s graves, the hungry babies, or the desperate mothers is the look of the elderly. They save their share of food to give it to the small ones. They have stopped eating. Rassoul is ill and says he has been too weak to get up for three months now. Everything hurts, he says, especially his bones and joints, and he can’t get warm anymore. In another courtyard, blind Karim Bej lies motionless under a woollen blanket despite the burning sun. “We haven’t seen the colour of bread in three months,” says his wife Kati Mo, “we will surely die.” Mirza Omar seems the only one with some hope left. He sits outside in the sun in his woollen military coat, brass buttons all shining. “My son bought it for me in the second-hand bazaar. He was always looking after me.” Three months ago the son left for Iran, together with 45 other young men from the village. Mirza sometimes gets some food from the neighbors and he is waiting for his garden to deliver. It’s just a tiny little plot of no more than 2 square meters, carefully fenced with dry twigs and branches with mean looking spikes to protect the precious plants from intruders. Inside the fence are four potato plants, miserly but green.
p. 140 Afghanistan 1999–2000 The last harvest, Afghanistan 1999–2000: Nangahar. Rashid is a friend of a friend of a friend. I can’t use his real name. He’ll get in trouble. When we are introduced, Rashid at first keeps fiddling with his crocheted cap, eyes cast down, not used to looking unrelated women in the eye. He will guide me around the poppy farming communities of Nangahar. “Where I live,” he says, “everybody grows opium.” We leave the main road and continue along a dirt track. Behind the olive groves, a vast patchwork blanket of white, pink, and purple unfolds. As far as I can see are hectares of blossoming poppies and fields with young seedlings where men, women, and children are working. In the cities, women are not allowed to work and they have to cover up in all-encompassing burqas to hide them from “unrelated” men. In the countryside, where the power base of the Taliban lies, they are far less strict. It is impossible to work in the fields while wearing a burqa, and besides, in the village everybody knows everybody else and everybody is related to everybody else. Even in Talib-logic, women don’t have to cover up for family. Rashid takes me to a woman he calls Khala — aunt — Gul. She is Rashid’s maternal aunt. With her husband and children she is thinning out the densely packed young poppy seedlings. As she continues to take out handfuls of young shoots, she can’t stop laughing, throwing her head back and cackling. It’s clearly hilarious to have a visitor from abroad in her field. Aunt Gul hands me the big bowl full of freshly picked poppy shoots: “Here, have some! It’s good for you,” she says. She shares a recipe with me: “Just wash the greens carefully and then eat it as a salad throughout spring. Or use it like spinach with a bit of oil and garlic.” Rashid reassures me, “Don’t worry,” he says, “these young plants don’t contain any of the toxins.”
The rest of the family stoically continues work on the little plot of land. There is no time to waste. Most small farmers are heavily in debt. They borrow money from middlemen whom they pay off with the harvest. Last year the area under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan almost doubled to 90,000 hectares. But overproduction often leads to a dip in the price of raw opium and the farmers get trapped in debt and can find themselves forced to increase cultivation even further, creating a vicious circle. “We don’t get rich,” says Amir, Gul’s eldest son, “but it
p. 141 Afghanistan 1999–2000 still pays more than other crops.” He is not bothered by criticism that his harvest will cause harm to others. “We were given war by the Americans,” Amir says, “and this is our gift in return.” Rashid, his mother, his brothers, and their wives and numerous offspring live in five small rooms around a walled courtyard. The brothers have weathered faces with hollow cheeks, just like Rashid. The children are filthy and malnourished, the women worn out and worried, looking 20 years older than they actually are. Rahima, Rashid’s sister-in-law, is from Kabul and because she speaks Dari, I can communicate with her. Rahima had three children, but they got sick and died when they were very young, she says. There was no money to take them to a hospital. The landlords, commanders, and village elders are better off than the small farmers. Zarib Khan is introduced to me as an “important man.” He is basking in the morning sun. For the foreign visitor a comfortable rope bed has been dusted off. There is green tea with fruit drops on the side. A young boy brings a vase with fragrant field daffodils. Zarib Khan calls for a hookah. First he disappears behind a sweet dense cloud, then he resorts to puffing out rings from his burbling pipe. “No,” Zarib Khan says half-heartedly, “I am not smoking opium. Besides,” he continues with a broad smile, “you might as well eat it. You only need the tiniest little bit.” He closes his eyes, as if he were a cat, and squeezes thumb and index finger together to illustrate his point. “A little crumb, that’s all you need.” After some persuasion, a big round opium cake wrapped in leaves is brought to the table. It looks like cow dung. After the opium cake has been sufficiently admired, Zarib Khan adds with a smug smile, “That’s just one. I have another eight left from last year.” After the successful visit to Zarib Khan, Rashid wants to introduce his guest to other power brokers in the area. He wants to take me to a military post a few villages down the road, but before we get there we come across an open field where young Taliban are playing a game of volleyball. They appear to have foreign guests of their own: “Arabs,” as non-Western foreigners are called here. The Taliban crowd around our car, their faces angry. “What is she doing here? Who is that woman? Who gave the kafir [unbeliever] permission to come here?” I’m taken to a small building with a trail of upset Taliban following me. Inside the mudbrick building is a more senior Talib wearing flowing robes and a silk turban. Maulawi Mirza Mohammed invites me to sit down, takes my passport, turns it around a couple of times, and studies my Taliban visa. On the wall above the sofa a UN poster shows a man being strangled by a poppy plant. The young Talibs who “arrested” me try to squeeze into the small office. They are pushed out by other Talibs with Kalashnikovs who are guarding me. Curious bearded faces appear in front of the open windows. The maulawi [a scholar who has completed official religious education] asks, “What Koran do you have in your home country?” I relax a little, because I have had this kind of conversation many times. “Our holy book is the Bible,” I respond. The maulawi nods in consent. “Who is your Peace Be Upon Him?” I recognize the expression. The maulawi is referring to the prophet. In Islam, any reference to the Prophet Mohammed is followed by “Peace Be Upon Him,” frequently abbreviated in the English-language Pakistani press to the more prosaic “pbuh.” I answer the maulawi: “Our prophet is Isa.”
p. 142 Afghanistan 1999–2000 Isa is the name Muslims use for Jesus, who is recognized as one of the five prophets of Islam. “When do you pray?” the maulawi wants to know next. “Many Christians pray when they get up, before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then again before they go to sleep,” I tell him, matching the five daily prayers mandatory for Muslims. The Taliban in the room nod and murmur their approval. Encouraged, I make a more honest addition, “Some people don’t pray as often.” Around me, frowns appear and the maulawi now wants to know if this is a serious religion. “What is the punishment when someone does not pray often enough?” “There is no punishment,” I say, and leave a long pause before I continue. “We leave it up to God to judge who should be punished.” Despite my conceited answer, some of the young Talibs look as if they quite fancy this carefree religion I have just described. The maulawi ends our discussion and says I am welcome, and that, as his guest, he will always be ready to help me. But then, before I even realize what is happening, I’m directed to a pickup and taken to Rashid’s home where Rahima is told to give me my backpack. With tears in her eyes, she lifts her hand and waves goodbye. I am unceremoniously kicked out by the Taliban. Within two hours I have been dumped at the Torkham border and I have no other option but to cross into Pakistan on foot and take a taxi to Peshawar. With or without “Arab” guests, I understand the Taliban are not keen on prying eyes. Even though they are avid opponents of alcohol and hashish, the collapse of the Afghan economy has made them dependent on opium revenue. Production and trade bring in millions of dollars: they levy a 10 percent tax on the poppy harvest just as they do with any other income. They may have banned the cultivation of opium, but they are reportedly still involved in exporting opiates abroad and in taxing the dozens of heroin labs that have sprung up along the lawless border with Pakistan.
A hot summer, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 1995: By the mid-1990s opium production in Afghanistan is increasing sharply, growing from 2,330 tons in 1993 to 3,416 tons in 1994. The effects are immediately obvious in Europe — dealers are handing out samples for free to get people hooked. The Netherlands is both a consumer market and an important transit point to other destinations in Europe.
p. 143 The Netherlands 1995 In Rotterdam’s inner city, the tension has been simmering for months, and now it is coming to a head. Vigilante committees have just announced a blockade against so-called “drug tourists” and local police and the City Council are worried that things could get out of hand. When I arrive one summer evening, at first I have trouble taking the protesters seriously. They don’t look serious. Men carrying portable radios strut around, puffed up with self-importance. Their beer bellies, heavy golden necklaces, I love you Mama tattoos, sports trousers slipping down not-so-trim bottoms: it all seems rather comical to me. Of course, I’m wrong. The protesters are fed up. The area is a magnet for drug users and all the related evils that come with them. One of the neighborhood men, Martin van Keulen, talks of used needles in the elevators, threats from junkies, women being harassed by men looking for prostitutes, and there is worse, he says. “Six times this week we’ve heard gun shots, last night again, at three o’clock. The police don’t even show. They are afraid.” The community has decided to take matters into their own hands. They want to get rid of the drug abuse and are handing out leaflets to passersby. “Dear drugs-tourists in Spangen,” states a warning, clumsy maybe, but very clear: “Chers tourist-de drogues, Liebe Drogen-Turisten. We, the people of Spangen do not want drugs in our neighborhood anymore. That is why we ask you to leave and not come back. If you chose not to cooperate with us, the consequences are yours, les conséquences sont pour vous, sind die Folgen für Sie.” It is August. It is hot and no, Spangen is not joking. Things could spin out of control quickly. The sturdy dock workers and their big-hearted wives snap into a raging mass when a car with French number plates drives into the area. The passengers clearly have no clue what is going on. Who knows, maybe the French didn’t even come here to buy dope. As the crowd moves in on them, they reverse and look around in panic to find an escape from the angry mob thumping and banging on the car. Wide-eyed with fear, they speed off, still pursued by some of the crowd. “People of Spangen, come back please!” pleads the amplified voice of Annie Verdoold, the uncrowned queen of the protesters, and this evening, the people of Spangen do listen to her. An angry-looking man doesn’t yet want to let go of a brick he picked up to throw at the French car. “Stay calm, stay calm,” his friends try to pacify him until he gives in, his tense arm dropping, the brick falling onto the pavement. Jan Boersma, commissioner of the Dutch National Crime Squad: “The Netherlands is not a big user country. The days of the toothless addicts on the Zeedijk are over. Today, the business model is all about maximizing profit. Most of the heroin comes in via the Balkan route. We find quantities of up to 500 kilos in trucks and of up to 80 kilos in cars. Istanbul is the big city for distribution: often investigations lead there and we have been cooperating very well with the Turkish police. In the Netherlands there are several places, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Arnhem too. There the heroin is stashed,
p. 144 The Netherlands 1995 waiting for a customer, often from the United Kingdom; they are big users. It is either forwarded straight away or mixed with caffeine or paracetamol. That is one thing we have been looking into. Apparently so much paracetamol is produced here that all of the Dutch must have headaches all day long and then that still leaves a lot of paracetamol unaccounted for. It can be cut one-on-one with heroin. From one kilo you make two kilos, an easy profit. In recent years we have noticed that the entire French population of heroin users is coming over to Maastricht. Young men with Moroccan roots from Utrecht and Rotterdam come to Maastricht and distribute smaller quantities of a hundred grams or a kilo. My estimation is that this amounts to hundreds of kilos a month; we’re talking serious business here. The Turks (of Turkish descent) control the import and the trade to the UK. They also supply the Moroccan groups with 10 or 20 kilos every week. The Moroccans then sell to these French dealers. They have a phone number and just distribute business cards with their number. Sometimes, when we arrest a dealer and take his phone, the number he was using is up and running again right away. They are like the numbers from the Yellow Pages. They bring in the money: many clients ring these numbers. The French can call in to say that six of them have just left from Lille and are on their way. When they reach Maastricht they are accompanied to a house in South Limburg and there they are supplied with 200-300 grams each. This is repeated every day, adding up to a sizable amount of 1.2 or 1.8 kilos a day.” (Interview AdJ/RK, Driebergen, 2010) “The Netherlands is a transit country for crime. Dutch expertise in financial logistics and its excellent location make the Netherlands a perfect place to use existing legal nodes and networks for crime. The international position of the Netherlands as a trading nation in legal markets also makes it attractive for international illegal trading, with criminals hiding their gains, goods and services in the overall trading network. Family ties are important for international criminal associations. Good Dutch infrastructure combined with effective trans national social links and kinship networks help the Colombian cocaine, Turkish heroin and Moroccan hashish trade and make the Netherlands an important transit country for drugs in Europe.” (The Amounts and the Effects of Money Laundering, B. Unger, 2006)
p. 145 The Netherlands 1995 “Indicators suggest that the Netherlands is susceptible to ML [money laundering], including because of its large financial center, openness to trade and the size of criminal proceeds. The 16th economy in the world by nominal GDP, it ranks 7th in terms of the systemic importance of its financial sector. It has an excellent communications network, convenient transportation infrastructure, and Rotterdam is one of the world’s busiest ports. Estimates indicate that substantial proceeds of crime are generated in the country, mostly stemming from fraud and illicit narcotics. Presently the proceeds of domestic crime are estimated at approximately $14 billion, or 1.8 percent of the GDP. In addition, work done by academics suggests a significant amount of criminal proceeds originating from foreign countries flows into the Netherlands for laundering.” (The Netherlands, Financial Action Task Force, 2011)
The last harvest, NorthAfghanistan, 1999–2000: Although the majority of Afghanistan’s opium is produced in Taliban-controlled territory, the northern oppo sition is also a big player. Since I am banned from returning to Taliban-held areas for the moment, I decide to travel to the northern province of Badakhshan. The roads are blocked by snow and heavy fighting, leaving the irregular UN flights as the only option: they only fly when the skies are clear. The day before my flight is scheduled, I drop by the UN flight operations office in Islamabad. The Tajik vice-consul is also there to pick up his ticket. He will join our flight which, after landing in Faizabad, is scheduled to continue to Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. As I walk in, the vice-consul is receiving a scolding from Tariq Zuberi, the retired Pakistan Army officer who is the head of flight operations. “This time you are not taking any crates of bananas with you. We don’t have space!” The vice-consul shrugs his shoulders, and smiles an apologetic smile before he leaves. Zuberi rolls his eyes in mock despair. “They lack everything in Dushanbe and the Tajiks just love bananas: they’re worth a fortune there.” The Tajik officials fly to Dushanbe with the UN and in turn the organization is assured of speedy visas whenever it is deemed
p. 146 Afghanistan 1999–2000 necessary to evacuate staff from Afghanistan. One good turn deserves another. I am rather shocked by the uncivil treatment of the vice-consul, but Zuberi does not seem the least bit embarrassed. Tajikistan is one of the world’s poorest nations. After decades of communism and years of brutal civil war in the mid-1990s, it lacks just about everything. A year earlier, I had met Tajiks in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif who had come all the way from Dushanbe to do some shopping. I can’t begin to imagine how bad life must be in a country where ordinary families take the risk of traveling to a neighbouring country that is effectively still at war, just to get basic household items and a little extra food. Next morning, the Tajik vice-consul is struggling with two plastic bags and when he boards the plane ahead of me, I catch a glimpse of the bananas, bruised and with lots of black patches. There are not many places more isolated than Badakhshan. Soon the snow will come, cutting off much of the province for up to six months. But it is still fall and Faizabad, the provincial capital, is buzzing with activity. Many men have trekked across the mountains to stock up on cooking oil, rice, sugar, winter coats, and boots before winter closes in. They also do the shopping for the women and children who have stayed in the villages: bags of brightly coloured candy, lengths of cloth for new dresses, rows of Indian bracelets, and boxes of henna powder to decorate hands and feet when there is a wedding or engagement. Like the Tajik vice-consul, I am also carrying contraband. As the Taliban have banned commercial flights to the northern territory that is not under their control, the aid organization I am visiting has no means of getting money to pay the staff’s salaries. I’m smuggling thousands of dollars in Pakistani rupees taped to my body, hidden under my shalwar kameez. Mr. Yacoobi, the manager of the Orphans, Refugees, and Aid office in Badakshan, is happy to see the money, but still a bit disappointed. “I am waiting for a fan belt and other spare parts for the car.” On the day of my arrival in the provincial capital Faizabad there is very bad news. The most important commander in the area, Najmuddin, has just been killed in an ambush. As evening falls, the rattle of Kalashnikov fire echoes through the surrounding mountains. The streets are dark and deserted. The north of Afghanistan, already riven with bloody rivalries between factions that are in theory allies in the fight against the Taliban, has just become a little more insecure. After a few days, a young student I have met at Faizabad University comes knocking at the door of my guesthouse, where I am writing late one afternoon. Masouda is nervous. She wants to tell me something, she says, that she was afraid to tell me earlier when I was visiting her and her fellow students at the medical faculty. Now there is no one else around and Masouda has summoned her courage, “because,” she says, “I want my voice to be heard.”
p. 147 Afghanistan 1999–2000 She describes how soldiers seeking revenge for Najmuddin’s assassination started raiding homes in the area where they suspected the killers had come from. They forced their way into her aunt and uncle’s house. Because Masouda is too embarrassed or does not know the word, she says. “One soldier grabbed one of my aunt’s legs and another soldier took the other leg … ” I ask, “Do you mean to say that your aunt was raped?” Masouda confirms my suspicions in a small voice. “Yes, and my little cousin Hekmatullah, who was only six years old, was thrown into the water cistern. They left him there until he died from cold.”
* The consumption of opium and heroin has not only increased abroad, but within Afghanistan as well. Yacoobi’s organization has the only in-patient detox clinics in the entire country. In these northern areas opium is used as a traditional painkiller. No wonder, given that it takes 12 hours by four-wheel drive or, as distances are more commonly measured here, two weeks walking, to get to a medical center from many hamlets. Yacoobi takes me to one of the remotest areas. In 12 hours we count no more than ten vehicles as we drive along dirt roads into the Himalayas. A few times the road narrows down to a rocky trail and we wait for long donkey caravans on their way to do the winter shopping in Faizabad. Our destination is Ishkashem near the Wakhan Corridor, where Afghanistan borders with China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. “Almost everybody here is addicted to opium,” says Yacoobi. “Men, women and children. Mothers blow the opium smoke in children’s airways like this: puff, puff, to help them sleep.” The local government has recently banned the use, production, and sale of opium, but it has had little effect. “Right here,” says Yacoobi as he shows me around the Ishkashem bazaar, “you could buy opium in any of the stalls.” We run into the qazi — the judge — taking his daily stroll, his hands clasped behind his back. He is glad the sale of opium has been banned. “It’s bad for people,” he says earnestly. The friendly old man has worked in the judiciary for decades, but has stopped doing big cases and certainly none that has anything to do with the trafficking of drugs. “I stand at the foot of the mountain,” he says with clever beady eyes, “and that whole mountain could fall on top of me.”
Old institutions have become redundant in Afghanistan and, along with them, the rule of law. The Taliban and the warlords are now in control. They decide what is right and what is wrong.
p. 148 Afghanistan 1999–2000 It is hard to understand how anyone can live in such a poverty-stricken place. The little wooden shops have hardly anything to sell. Some rice and cooking oil, brought in from other regions, and a little locally grown wheat. Most shops sell exactly the same things: batteries, matches, and bags of low-quality candy. There are no fruit or vegetables, not even carrots, potatoes, or onions. Salaried jobs are rare, almost the only employers are the big landowners and many of them pay partly in opium. Yacoobi says many have become addicted. “And once they are dependent, they are ready to sell their livestock and their land, just to get opium.” This is how the landowners have been able to expand their estates. In front of the ORA clinic seven men are waiting. They have walked for days in the hope of weaning themselves off opium, but Yacoobi has to send them away. He has no more space. “There are only 12 beds. Because of the ban on opium, the price has tripled. Everybody now wants to come here.” On a ledge above the entrance to the clinic are dozens of opium pipes left behind by the patients. In the courtyard patients are busy exercising. Yacoobi shows me the pond. “If the withdrawal symptoms are too much, they go into the pond. The cold water is very good for it.” Indoors it is almost dark. In a corner of the room Abdul Ghaffar is shaking, bent over with the stomach pains that are part of withdrawal. He has used opium for 45 years and was taking a staggering 36 grams a day. “Now, opium is still for sale, but it has become unaffordable,” says Ghaffar. Yacoobi is skeptical about the chances of a successful detox. “If they fall ill, they will relapse and take opium. Or they die.” He sighs. “Besides, the use of opium is completely accepted here. Our cook’s help sent us a note saying he would not be able to work for five days because he had to help his family with the opium harvest.” That night I share a room with the clinic’s staff. The addicts in detox are in an adjacent room. Clinic is a big word for a mud-brick building without electricity or running water. A hole in the mud floor with a cesspit below serves as a latrine and is shared by everyone. A sharp stench of ammonia rises from the heaving mass of excrement and maggots. In front of the latrine is a threadbare blanket. The etiquette is basic: approaching the blanket, one coughs politely, if it is occupied, there will be a hasty cough from behind the curtain.
At the Ishkashem military post, the commander tells me he oversees the implemen tation of the new law banning opium, and brags of his success. “Big catches of 15, 20 and another 15 kilos.” Has the opium been destroyed, I ask? The commander looks startled. “Why, no! We have stored it.” But he declines to show it to me. In Iskashem, it is whispered that the seized opium is sold to traffickers who
p. 149 Afghanistan 1999–2000 take it to Tajikistan and onwards to Russia and Europe. For those traders, nothing has changed. Yacoobi takes me to the border with Tajikistan. In the narrow valley a lonely guard, dwarfed by the mountains behind him, is on watch. Across the river are the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. I travel back to Faizabad for my flight out. Next to the airport is farmland belonging to Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s still internationally recognized president 4. In the fields are flawless white poppies and some with stunning dark purple flowers. Near the entrance to the airstrip is a sign: “The trade, production and use of opium are strictly forbidden in Islam.” 4. Former Afghan president
Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed in September 2011 by a suicide attacker with a bomb hidden in his turban. Rabbani was a former leader of the
mujahideen Jamiat-e-Islami party and president of Afghanistan between 1992 and 1996, when the Taliban conquered Kabul. He was appointed head of the High Peace
Council, established to hold peace talks between the government and the Taliban and other opposition groups.
Pakistan, September 2001: Loose-fitting trousers, wide embroidered tops, a selection of headscarves, recording tapes, film, microphone cables, more microphone cables, flea powder, broad-spectrum antibiotics, painkillers, vitamin pills … I am packing my bags for yet another trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan. I am thrilled to be going. Robert and I have prepared for this for months, and now we’re about to leave for one of the most beautiful parts of Afghanistan. Tomorrow, we will fly to Islamabad and from there we’ll travel to Peshawar, and then north to Chitral, where we will pick up a donkey caravan carrying school books across the 4,500-meter Shah Saleem mountain pass into Afghanistan. I’m watching CNN as I pack. It is September 11, 2001. My attention is caught by the breaking news. I watch the first plane flying into the World Trade Center and call Robert. “Switch on your television. This is Osama,” I tell him, “You have to call your agent right away.” I know for sure this story will lead back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1998, when I was living in Kabul, working for an NGO after the Taliban had banned me from working as a journalist, the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam were blown up and the Americans responded by bombing al Qaeda training camps. Almost all NGOs evacuated their staff and I was told to leave Afghanistan along with dozens of other foreign aid workers in Kabul. I’m sure what I’m seeing on television is also Bin Laden. It is also not his first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center. While Robert is on the phone
p. 150 Pakistan 2001 with his agent in the UK, the second plane crashes into the other tower. Later that afternoon I pick up our tickets in town. Robina, a Pakistani friend from Lahore who runs a travel agency in Amsterdam, walks me to the door and hugs me. “Don’t go! Why would you?” she implores. I almost get caught in the colorful folds of her shalwar kameez, which she wears even in the Netherlands. Robina looks gray and tired. It does not occur to me yet how precarious her position has become. A Muslim, who looks the part, living in the West where an alliance is quickly coming together to extract vengeance. When, days later, I think about Robina, my position has become a mirror image of hers: an unmistakably Western woman in an area that is now the focus of American revenge. When the punitive strikes start, as they surely will, we will not be popular.
Departure hall 3 at Schiphol Airport is almost completely deserted. The girls at the check-in counter of our Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight, exchange news about some budget airline pilots. “They refuse to fly, they’re afraid of attacks,” one of the girls says. I joke to Robert that we might find ourselves sharing a flight with escaping associates of the suicide terrorists. Robert quips that this would make PIA one of the safest airlines in the world. Early next day we land in Pakistan and rush to the Taliban embassy to get our Afghan visas. It is already packed with journalists trying to get to Kabul. As we are standing in line, a slight young Talib with a wispy beard and a big black turban approaches me. “You have to wait in the women’s section,” he says. I pretend not to understand. Three hours later none of us has made any progress. Nobody gets a visa. By Friday, the crowd of reporters has grown to hundreds and a large group is trying to push its way into the embassy. The Taliban try to pacify the journalists at the embassy with a press conference. Ambassador Mullah Zaeef reads a statement from Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban. “Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan where he does not have access to a fax machine or internet, so he could not have been involved in the coordinated attacks in America,” the statement says. The tone of the Taliban at this stage is defiant: “If the United States attack Afghanistan without due trial, it would also be an act of terrorism.”
p. 151 Pakistan 2001 A day later the mood is shifting. The Americans name Bin Laden as their main suspect and the calls for revenge get louder. More governments pledge to stand with the United States. Pakistan also promises to help where necessary. But how far will it go? The government is caught between the Americans on one side and the increasingly influential domestic extremist groups on the other. The Taliban feel the storm approaching and threaten retaliation against any “neighbouring countries which support the Americans in an attack.” Public opinion in Pakistan hardens. Like everywhere else, most people are shocked by the images of the attacks in New York and Washington, but they are also suspicious and in the street young men respond with anger to questions about the latest developments. “If the Americans attack, I will join the Taliban,” says Mahammed Masim, 20. “I don’t care if I get a gun or not. If need be I will fight with my bare hands.” Within moments of arriving at Peshawar’s Saddar Bazaar, young Pakistani and Afghan men are crowding around us. The capital of the North West Frontier Province is sheltering hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, many of whom have lived here since the Soviets invaded their country twenty-two years ago. Bin Laden’s reputation as a popular leader is well established. In the market stalls are piles of T-shirts, reading “Osama bin Laden, World Hero!” and plastic-wrapped turbans with his picture. We come across a dark shop with video and computer games, full of excited young men and boys glued to the screens. In one of the popular games New York is under attack by airplanes. Abdul Malik, 22, is a student at one of the many thousands of Koran schools — madrassas — in Pakistan. In recent years, tens of thousands of fanatical young madrassa students, raised by fire-brand mullahs, have crossed the border into Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. Malik says the madrassa boys could change the focus of their hostility. “If Pakistan cooperates with the Americans, we will rise and topple President Musharraf’s government,” he says.
It is hard to tell how wellinformed ordinary Pakistanis and Afghans are about the magnitude and horror of the attacks in America. Television has been banned in much of Afghanistan. The endless stream of repeated images of desperate people jumping from the towers as they collapse, which has shocked audiences across the globe, has only reached those with illegal television sets. In Pakistan, local papers have dedicated ample space to the attacks, but there is also cynicism. They point out that there has never been a similar outcry about civilian casualties in other countries, particularly other Muslim countries, even when many more people were killed than the 5,000 people who are now feared to have lost their lives in the United States. Bewildered comments underline that there were other losses of life in Iraq for instance, because of the sanctions, in Palestine, in
p. 152 Pakistan 2001 Kashmir, in Afghanistan, and Chechnya. Their bitter conclusion is that a Western life is worth much more than that of a poor Muslim. An Afghan friend says many people in Afghanistan have fled to the mountains, a tactic they used to avoid Soviet bombing campaigns two decades earlier. “Close to my village is a Bin Laden training camp, but all the men who were there have already disappeared. What then, will the Americans attack?”
* On September 21st, Pakistan’s religious parties organize a national strike and demonstrations against the possibility of an American attack on Afghanistan. Their call strikes a particular chord in Peshawar, with huge crowds carrying banners written in English so their audience could not mistake their message: “Osama is a hero of Islam,” or “America terrorist nation no. 1, Israel terrorist nation no. 2,” and “Bush trusts in military power, we trust in Allah.” In contrast to demonstrations in the southern city of Karachi, where people died in riots, the mood in Peshawar is almost festive. The burning of the flag and effigies of President Bush seem more like rituals, like the burning of a rag doll on Guy Fawkes night. Much of the shouting Mordabad America! — Death to the Americans — and: Zindabad Taliban and Zindabad Osama bin Laden — Long live the Taliban. Long live Osama bin Laden” — seems directed at the international press and their audiences. As soon as the camera shifts its focus, the shouting dies down. The demonstrators make sure foreign journalists don’t get caught up in the crowd. They are surprisingly helpful and carry a huge platform high above the heads of the other protesters. Every now and then they put it down and assist photographers and cameramen to climb on the platform and get good overview shots of the crowd. When everybody flocks to the mosque, foreign journalists, expecting a rabble-rousing speech, climb on top of the roof of the building opposite to get a good view of the crowd. Across the street, the demonstrators also climb on the roof of the mosque; they want to get an equally good view, but of the journalists. Despite the holiday atmosphere, there is a serious undercurrent, especially when the tough statements of President Bush are discussed. “Crusade! He said he wanted a crusade!” says an indignant Sayed-ul-Arifin, who runs a religious school with his father. “He should first prove Bin Laden is involved,” Arifin repeats a complaint voiced by many Pakistanis. “We want real proof, not fabricated evidence,” he says. The influence of radical groups will determine Pakistan’s actual support in the hunt for Bin Laden and his extended terrorist network. The extremists might derail Pakistan in years to come, increasing the risk of civil war. Ten-year-old Walid, who fled a village south of the Afghan capital Kabul, does not quite seem to understand the severity of the situation. Dressed in a mujahid’s headband he steals along the fruit bazaar and lies in ambush for an imaginary enemy. He carries a wooden Kalashnikov, made from empty mango crates. “This is no toy! This is real!” he says. “This is jihad against the Americans.”
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;153 Russia 2002
p. 481 Epilogue The story of Afghan heroin is a story of our times: just as globalization has forged new connections in industry and business, creating new opportunities for millions worldwide, it has also provided new openings for criminals and terrorists. As governments and law enforcement agencies try desperately to control the fallout, Afghan heroin is wrecking lives, destroying societies, and corroding nation states. Globalization has opened up the world for better and for worse. While we acknowledge the virtues and advantages of more open societies, we have tried to shed light on some of the darker corners. Tracking the heroin from its source in Afghanistan’s remote mountains through to the streets of Europe and beyond, we have documented how drugs, armed conflict, transnational crime, and corruption feed off each other. They are forces of destabilization presenting multiple threats to communities and governments across the world. The inadequacy of conventional solutions that are being applied to these complex conflicts is becoming increasingly apparent. The pattern of Afghan conflict is not unique, and is being repeated in other regions affected by violence, such as South America. Drugs are an integral part of modern warfare and have been used by the FARC in Colombia, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the PKK in Turkey and Iraq, and Hezbollah in Lebanon and other armed groups in their strategies. Opium breeds on poverty and thrives on conflict and war, lining the pockets of corrupt officials and destroying lives. In short, as so aptly put by the Inter national Crisis Group, the opium trade loves smuta, the Russian word for chaos and confusion. Wherever the heroin caravan passes, organized crime is surging. The volume of money being made is so vast that whole nation states are being undermined. Turf wars are fought over the control of this lucrative business, creating a vicious circle that is driving some of the more marginal states into violent anarchy. The impact of Afghan heroin is clearly not limited to Afghanistan itself. It reaches much further and deep into Europe and beyond. The old Silk Road, which once brought pearls and porcelain to the west, is now bringing death. According to the UN, 100,000 people die each year as a result of Afghan heroin — more than from any other drug — and that does not include the millions more along the main trafficking routes whose lives have been blighted by addiction and HIV/AIDS. In 1979, the year of the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan had no significant commercial opium production. The mujahideen rebels funded their opposition to the Red Army with opium and heroin, expanding cultivation rapidly. Western governments considered the spread of heroin as collateral damage of the bigger battle. The main objective was to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. With a bit of luck the Soviet empire would get a bloody nose as well; payback for the humiliation of America’s debacle in Vietnam.
* We first traveled to Afghanistan in 1993; a year after the communist government fell to the mujahideen. Opium production had risen from 200 tons in 1980 to 2,330 tons in 1993. In the following years cultivation expanded steadily, yielding 4,565 tons in 1999. When the Taliban banned cultivation — but not the trade, leading to much speculation about the real motives — production in Afghanistan plummeted to 185 tons in 2001.
p. 482 Epilogue The about-turn was short-lived. Right after the international intervention in late 2001, farmers started planting opium poppies again on a massive scale. The harvest of 2002 delivered 3,400 tons and cultivation expanded to the peak harvest of 8,200 tons in 2007. In recent years production has declined, dipping to 3,600 tons in 2010, although much of that fall was due to crop diseases rather than Western intervention. The UN cautiously expressed hope for further reductions, but the basic rules of supply and demand apply to opium and heroin as much as any other product. The scarcity of opium after the blight triggered a spectacular price rise in 2011. Farmers could earn 11 times more from cultivating opium than from wheat, encouraging more and more to abandon food crops to plant more poppies. At the start of 2012, the UN reported that Afghan opium production had increased by 61 percent, growing from 3,600 tons in 2010 to 5,800 tons in 2011. And it looks like the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Many Western governments are cutting back on their commitments, as economic pressures at home make it more difficult to maintain financial and military support for Afghanistan. Even if the money can be found to prop up the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police — the bill is expected to be $6.8 billion this year — the national security forces will have little impact as long as corruption within the Afghan government remains widespread and the warlords continue to carve up the Afghan nation for their personal exploitation. As international forces start to pull out, most Afghan citizens still lack the most basic security, the risk of civil war and further fragmentation of the state looms large. In 2009, the year before the crop blight, the annual global opium market was worth $68 billion. Most of the profits were pocketed by international crime cartels in Russia and Western Europe, but even in Afghanistan the earnings are estimated to be around $3.5 billion. The main beneficiaries were government officials, powerful warlords — many of them nominally Western allies — the Taliban, and last and least, the ordinary farmers with few alternatives. With the prevailing uncertainty about the future of not just Afghanistan, but also of its neighbors Pakistan and Iran, smuta is thriving. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that Afghan opium will continue to fuel war, corruption, organized crime, and the misery it creates for many years to come.
Antoinette de Jong and Robert Knoth, February 2012, Amsterdam
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;485 Trafficking Routes Cocaine Conflict Trafficking of females Firearms Heroin Migration Piracy
Data source UNODC, 2009/2010
The Netherlands Germany Switzerland France Italy
United Arab Emirates
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;487 Along the Poppy Trails 1.
Odessa Belgrade Pristina Sofia
Tashkent Osh Dubai Dushanbe
Moskovskiy Termez Mazar-e-Sharif
Luuq Garbahaarreey Mogadishu
p. 489 Acknowledgments Many different people have cooperated in this project, and have supported and encouraged us. We cannot thank them enough and apologize that the list below is not complete. In our research we are indebted to many journalists and scholars who have published on Afghanistan, South and Central Asia, Russia and the Balkans. Over the years, scores of people agreed to meet us; they talked with us for hours, sharing information and often trusting us with painful details of their lives. During our travels we have been lucky to find companionship, friendship and heart warming hospitality. We thank: Nadeem Ahmed, Mehboob Ali, Charlotte Althenhoner, Roberto Arbitrio, Muhammad Ayub, Klaas Jan Baas, Dini Bangma, Jules Bänffer, Hans van Blommestein, Lars Boering, Chris de Bode, Harm Botje, Ilona van der Braak, Jan van den Brand, Christer Brannerud, Heleen Bulthuis, Simon Burer, Ian Clarke, Kate Clarke, Nick Coke, Liz Cotton, Rod Curtis, Ellen van Dalen, Anke van Dam, Rik Delhaas, Fieneke Diamand, Richard Dion, Henk van den Dool, Richard Donk, Duguf, Guljan Ermekbaeva, Gijsbert van Es, Lianne Fincken, Galina Fomaidi, Bevis Fusha, Zamira Ganieva, Kathy Gannon, Frits Gierstberg, Phil Goodwin, Peter Greste, Marion Grobbee, Shahab Haider, Toon van Ham, Feruza Hamidova, Marjolein Hammink, Rebecca Harley, Fatos Haziri, Hezbollah (driver), Arthur Herrman, Gert Hindrix, Diederik van Hoogstraten, Lonneke van Hout, Siraj Islam, Maulana Taj-ul-Amin Jabal, Jamal, Huub Jaspers, John Jennings, Alan Johnston, Arendo Joustra, Frits Kemperman, Behrooz Khan, Muzzamil Khan, Alfred Koster, Bill Kouwenhoven, Theo Kloppenburg, Yulia Kravchuk, Hans Kuitert, Jeroen Kummer, Mark Lavine, Marina Lisitsina, Frénk van der Linden, Victor Levie, Mike Lusmore, Robina Mahmoud, Blerina Marini, Jaqueline Maris, Jitka Markova, Joost van der Meer, Harun Miah, Arjan Muça, Syed Minhaj-ul-Hassan, Genci Muçollari, Odile Mullajanov, Munir, Ruslan Myatiyev, General Rustam Nazarov, Hans Nijenhuis, Zarrina Nivozova, John Novis, Willem Offenberg, Olaf van Oudheusden, Warna Oosterbaan, Frank Ortmanns, Edlira Papavangjeli, Matthieu Peerlings, Lori Polena, Wieger Poutsma, Suzannah Price, Ahmet Prenci, Erik van Prooijen, Natalyia Ruda, Anna Sanginova, Evelien Schotsman, Suzanne Schanz, Danusia Schenke, Maarten Schilt, Carola Schoor, Michael Semple, Jotham Sietsma, Laura Starink, Paul Steenhuis, Fred Stroobants, Evgenia Sveshinsky, Rasoul Rakhimov, Ahmed Rashid, William Reeve, René van Rijckevorsel, Fred Ritchin, Bart Rijs, Samo Rovan, Grid Rroji, Sarah Russell, Colonel Sadullo Rahmatulloev, Syed Salahuddin, Sokol Selfollari, Mukhtar Shah, Brigadier Mahmood Shah, Aijaz Shaikh, Kathy Sherriff, Iris Sikking, Gert Staal, Liz Spencer, Noel Spencer, Evgenia Sveshinsky, Guillaume Teerling, Herman van den Tempel, Ibrahim Tajiki, Gary Thomas, Katja Thomas, Elena Vaskrisjenska, Hans Verstraaten, Dirk-Jan Visser, Yulia Vitvitskaya, Hans de Vreij, Matthea Vrij, Bas Vroege, Adam Wade, Sue Wade, Daoud Wahab, Maartje Wildeman, Andrew Wilder, Terrence White, Alem Yacoobi, Rahimullah Yusufzai, Yussuf, Judith Zaal, Ehsan Zahine, Sikandar Zaman, Ahmad Zubair. This book could not have been written without the love and support of our families, and especially the understanding of our mothers, Ans de Jong-ten Barge and Jannie Knoth-te Brake. They put up with our wanderings and long absences and understood our incurable passion for Afghanistan. Special thanks to: Muslem Hayat, Tim Johnston, Ismail Khan, Amir Shah. In memory of: Abdi Farah, Sharon Herbaugh, Mirwais Jalil, Tom Little, Natasha Singh, Adri Verzijl
p.â&#x20AC;&#x2020;490 Colophon ÂŠ 2012 Antoinette de Jong & Robert Knoth, Amsterdam (NL) This book is published in conjunction with the exhibition Poppy: Trails of Afghan Heroin Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, 2012 Photography and text: Robert Knoth & Antoinette de Jong Text editing: Tim Johnston Editorial advice: Bas Vroege Copyediting: Cecily Layzell Graphic design: Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht Typeface: Galaxie Polaris Capitolium News Paper: Book Paper, 120 g/m2 Hello Gloss, 100 g/m2 Scanning and digital processing: Wieger Poutsma, Fisk Imaging, Amsterdam Printing: Slinger, Alkmaar Binding: Jansenbinders, Leiden Produced by: Iris Sikking Paradox PO Box 113 1135 ZK Edam The Netherlands www.paradox.nl
p. 491 p.491 Colophon © 2012 First edition Antoinette de Jong & Robert Knoth, Paradox and Hatje Cantz Verlag Jointly published by:
YdocPublishing PO Box 113 1135 ZK Edam The Netherlands Tel. +31 299 315-083 www.ydocfoundation.org Y books are available at www.ydocfoundation.org
Hatje Cantz Verlag Zeppelinstrasse 32 73760 Ostfildern Germany Tel. +49 711 4405-200 Fax +49 711 4405-220 www.hatjecantz.com You can find information on this exhibition and many others at www.kq-daily.de. Hatje Cantz books are available internationally at selected bookstores. For more information about our distribution partners, please visit our website at www.hatjecantz.com. ISBN 978-3-7757-3337-3 This publication was realized with the kind support of SNS REAAL Fund, VSB Fund, Mondriaan Fund, AIDS Foundation East West, Foundation Sem Presser Archive, Foundation for Democracy and Media, National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development, Prince Bernhard Culture Fund
Poppy In the 21st century, globalization has opened up the world for better and for worse. While we all welcome the virtues and advantages of an open society, Poppy tells a different story: of a world facing destabilization as a result of multiple threats. Drugs, armed conflict, transnational crime, corruption, chronic poverty, and the spread of HIV/AIDS; Poppy shows how closely they are all intertwined.