Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has long sought to toughen his country’s position against the illegal narcotics trade. As a strategically located island nation, narcotics dealers have recently increased their presence in the country as they seek to turn Sri Lanka into a regional base for the trafficking of illegal narcotics. Realising the seriousness of the dangers that the narcotics trade poses to his nation, President Sirisena recently praised the anti-narcotics efforts of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Sirisena further stated that he seeks to pursue a zero tolerance approach to narco-terrorism based on the example of The Philippines.
In January of this year, Sirisena said the following about Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs during his state visit to The Philippines:
“Excellency, the war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me. The drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard”.
It now appears that not only does President Sirisena understand that the dangers of narcotics and violent terrorism are indelibly linked, but that the narcotics trade was behind the recent wave of deadly terrorist bombings in Sri Lanka. President Sirisena has just stated:
“Let’s not forget the connection between the war against narcotics and terrorism”.
President Sirisena went on to pledge that the Sri Lankan authorities will investigate the narcotics links to the recent wave of attacks which tragically interrupted a a ten year period of peace following the defeat of the LTTE terror organisation in May of 2009.
In a piece from Eurasia Future authored shortly after the attacks in Sri Lanka, I suggested five major issues that Colombo must address in order to bring the authors of the attacks to justice and learn valuable information that could help to prevent future atrocities.
One of the five main issues was in fact drugs as the links between major regional and international terror organisations and drugs is all too well known, even though it is rarely discussed by western and Indian media outlets that have a perverse tendency to blame Islam for acts of terrorism that have nothing to do with the tenants of the Islamic faith.
The sales, trafficking and ingesting of narcotics has indeed been the common thread between terror groups in Turkey, the Arab world, Africa, south east Asia and beyond. Now it appears that this plague has well and truly arrived in Sri Lanka.
While the PKK terror group has killed 40,000 people in less than forty years including Turkish military officers and police, civilians, tourists and the ethnic Kurds that the PKK falsely claims to represent, this statistic does not include the multitude of further deaths caused by the illegal inter-continental narcotics trade controlled by PKK terrorists. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu recently warned his European Union partners to be on guard against the PKK’s narco-network in Europe. According to Soylu,
“Especially in Europe, the PKK controls 80 percent of the drug trade and it is estimated that the terror group earns around $1.5 billion per year.
…In other words, [drug dealers] are continuously inventing new drugs. The production of drugs is also increasing. The area of opium cultivation in Afghanistan was 17,000 hectares in 2002. The U.S. intervened there to bring peace and democracy; it was such an intervention that the cultivation area jumped to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium production increased from 4,800 tons in 2016 to 9,000 tons in 2017, an increase of 63 percent in a year”.
The Interior Minister further detailed how Turkish authorities are stepping up their fight against narcotics, but cautioned that all nations much be vigilant against this threat. He further detailed the nature of the drugs trafficked and sold by the PKK including heroin, cocaine, meth, so-called “ecstasy” and most worryingly the notorious captagon – the drug of choice for Daesh an al-Qaeda terrorists. Soylu stated,
“If I tell you that we have captured 15,821,096 captagon pills from street dealers in the first 10 months, we can make a clear picture in the minds of the public regarding the scale of our fight on the field”.
To understand the importance of captagon to international terror networks in terms not only of selling the drug but in respect of distributing it among murderous terrorists, one must trace the origins of the drug’s popularity to recent wars throughout the Middle East and Africa.
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 the US, UK and France.
It turns out that Gaddafi was absolutely correct. Drugs have become a staple of the modern terrorist’s diet. From Libya to 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 turn to terrorism which will often lead to their own death, 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. Philippine 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.
The plague of narcotics is directly related to terrorism at the point of sale, the point of cultivation and more often than not at the point of ingestion. The seriousness of the drug fuelled element of international terrorism however still remains silenced throughout Europe as does the PKK’s invasion of the European Union.
As the PKK expands its killing machine in Europe, the dangerous terror group is also spreading its narco-network throughout the world, including and especially in Europe. It is therefore imperative that the EU works with Turkey to set up a new anti-PKK/anti-narcotics task force before more damage to human life is done by terrorists without regard for humanity.
The lethal narcotics whose sales, trafficking and ingesting has caused terror and mayhem from Mindanao to Benghazi and from Baghdad to Istanbul, has now resulted in mass casualties in a Sri Lankan nation that for ten years had been at peace.