In addition to discussing new mechanisms to create peace through prosperity on the win-win model developed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, this weekend’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit also seeks to address ways to cooperate on combating what Beijing calls the Three Evils of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. Within this framework, China has set an SCO agenda to discuss tackling the global proliferation of narcotics as well as ways to end the indelible link between the narcotics market and the financing of terrorist groups.
While The Philippines is not a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, on the model I proposed for much needed expansion of this important multi-national group, Manila could and should be among ASEAN’s first candidate members of an expanded SCO.
But even before crossing this bridge, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte can and should be invited to the next SCO summit in order to discuss his experience of over three decades in waging war on the narcotics trade and the drug culture. From his earliest days as mayor of Davao city in 1988 to the present day as President of The Republic of The Philippines, Duterte has squarely focused on developing and implementing a hands on approach to drugs which is not afraid to tackle the narco-beast at all levels from the deranged drug taking violent criminal in the streets, to the piratical drug traffickers in the seas, to the dealers in the cities and towns to corrupt police, bureaucrats and elected officials who in The Philippines like in many other nations were for years on the take from the narcotics black market.
Duterte has shown that this holistic approach to the drug problem works both in terms of cleaning up government, the streets and the seas but also that such an approach works to serve as a deterrent to political corruption. As China is a global leader in taking a hands on approach to any form of corruption in the public sector, it would be natural for Duterte to offer his thoughts to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a whole, as this super-national body covering a vast geographical space could help to reduce the global narcotics problem by acting cooperatively, all the while adopting many of Duterte’s time honed techniques.
Far from just being a domestic issue, drugs are part and parcel of the global trend in terrorist extremism both at the level of financing violence and fuelling violence among those who commit terrorist atrocities.
In 2011, when Libyan Revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared before his nation saying that seditious elements and foreign agitators were on narcotics and thus deprived of their own cognitive abilities, he was laughed at by the western mainstream media who cheered on his subsequent assassination at the hands of al-Qaeda proxies working with NATO.
It turns out that Gaddafi was absolutely correct. Drugs have become a staple of the modern terrorist’s diet. From Libya, Syria and Iraq to Philippines, warped young men without a real knowledge of any particular faith or ideology are taking vast amounts of drugs in order to give them the physical stamina combined with mental incapacity, which allows them to carry out barbaric atrocities without cessation. If it ever seemed odd that young men would turn to terrorism which would often lead to their own deaths, as well as the death of others, without any promise of earthly remuneration, this is because even among the poor or the mentally challenged, terrorism is typically unthinkable.
It is the promise and delivery of mind altering drugs which pushes young people into terrorism, rather than mythical notions about an un-Islamic and un-Christian afterlife. In this sense, the difference between a young man turning to drug dealing or robbery, has the same basic origins as those who turn to terrorism. In most societies it is a slippery slope. It is no coincidence that many well known terrorists were fond of alcohol, prostitutes and so-called recreational drugs prior to committing their atrocities. While alcoholism, the taking of narcotics and the frequenting of harlots is prohibited in Islam, these actions are de rigueur in respect of the lifestyles that surround the narco-trade. Thus, terrorism is anything but a “problem with Islam”, it is a geopolitical problem whose foot-soldiers are fuelled by dangerous drugs.
While there are many drugs used by terrorists, well-known narcotics such as cocaine is at best, a second favourite among today’s killers. The 21st century terrorist’s drug of choice is a pill called Captagon whose effects while similar to cocaine, are even more extreme, making its users capable of super-human violence while totally erasing what remains of a human conscience. Captagon has been found among Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda fighters in Libya, Iraq, Syria, as well as in terrorist shipping roots in France and Italy, just to name a few.
But other drugs also play their role. Philippines President Duterte has waged a war against drug addicts, drug dealers and the criminal networks built up around both. These networks include not only mafioso gangs, but Daesh aligned terrorist organisations. Soldiers in The Philippines have discovered that the Daesh aligned Maute Group who for months occupied the city of Marawi in Mindanao, were taking the drug known as Shabu, a powerful methamphetamine which has been at the root of South East Asia’s drug problem.
Recently, it came to be known that the terrorists who slaughtered civilians last year on England’s London Bridge and surrounding areas, were on powerful steroids. But it is not just Daesh and al-Qaeda related terrorists who are fuelled by drugs. Most of the so-called mass shooters in recent US history, have been under the influence of narcotics both during and before their killing sprees. This includes Stephen Paddock, the man who committed the biggest mass shooting in US history last year in Las Vegas.
With terrorist fighters taking drugs and with terrorist organisations profiting from the sale of drugs and with historic and current allegations of the CIA profiting from its own involvement in the international narcotics trade, one contemporary leader stands above the rest in both articulating the nature of the drug problem and taking concrete steps to stop it. This man is Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Gaddafi first warned of this phenomenon in 2011, at a time when most people outside of Davao did not know the name Rodrigo Duterte.
Today, Duterte is saving lives by tacking the drug problem at its core. It is no surprise therefore that some of the same neo-imperialist forces that killed Gaddafi are now trying to imprison Duterte due to their fear that he might expose the link between drugs and terrorism even more than he already has done. The CIA of course has its hands dirty in the drug trade, while the US has been supporting terrorism in Libya and Syria for at least seven years. Duterte has made a brave stand in taking on not only local gangs and terrorist groups, but their Washington benefactors. Anyone who opposes terrorism, should stand with President Duterte, for it is only he who understands its most fundamental root cause.
Duterte can provide great insight into tackling one of the biggest constituent elements of the three evils that the SCO will be working to stop during the course of their meeting in Qingdao. At the next SCO summit, Duterte ought to be front and centre as few world leaders have his experience in tackling this major blight on the modern human condition.