With Afghanistan’s opium output now breaking all previous records, it seems that hashish continues to remain an important sideline for the country’s warring factions—and to hear the US tell it, it’s the ultra-puritanical Taliban that is responsible for it. A December 18 press release from NATO Special Operations Command boasts of the seizure of 34 tons of “raw hashish” (presumably meaning herbaceous cannabis) and 300 kilograms of “processed hashish” in a raid carried out jointly with the National Interdiction Unit of the Afghan police force. In other words, NATO is cracking down on Taliban hashish.
A “Taliban Drug Cache”
NATO’s Afghanistan Special Mission Wing provided air support for Afghan Counter-Narcotics Police in the raid on what was called a “Taliban drug cache” in Mohammed Agha district, Logar province. The hashish was destroyed on site in what was described as “one of the largest narcotics seizures that the SMW has supported.”
US commanders took the opportunity to portray the Taliban as a mere criminal enterprise. “First, the Taliban is not a popular insurgency,” said Gen. John Nicholson, NATO’s Operation Resolute Support commander, during a Pentagon press briefing quoted in the statement. “So we believe that the Taliban, in some ways, have evolved into a criminal or narco-insurgency. They are fighting to defend their revenue streams. They have increasingly lost whatever ideological anchor they once had.”
A second such haul was reported January 1 when commandos from the Afghan army’s 7th Special Operations Kandak conducted a night raid on a Taliban “Red Unit” compound in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province. The commandos reported seizing and destroying over 1,000 kilograms of hashish in the raid, “denying $3.4 million of illegal drug trafficking revenue to the anti-government insurgency.”
The Taliban’s “Red Units,” believed to number some 300 fighters, are the rebel army’s own special forces, said to be responsible both for especially critical attacks and for overseeing the dope-for-guns pipeline that fuels the insurgency.
And on Jan. 10, the Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan announced 16 arrests in a wave of busts across four provinces—Kabul, Kandahar, Baghlan and Herat. The raids scored 69 kilograms of hashish, as well as smaller quantities of opium, heroin and morphine. Foreign currency totaling $4,500 was also reported to have been seized in the raids.
Final Hit: NATO Claims Crackdown On Taliban Hashish
Hashish exports from Afghanistan are on the increase, and seizures within the country are invariably labeled as “Taliban hashish.” The Taliban in their years in power between 1996 and 2002 were, of course, ultra-puritanical, and hash-smokers were publicly flogged. Now that they are in an insurgency, however, they’ve turned to the dope trade to subsidize their guerilla war.
Ironically, ISIS, which has also now established a foothold in Afghanistan, has been taking the same propaganda tack as NATO, attempting to tar the Taliban competition with the narco stigma, and portraying themselves as keepers of the flame of an ultra-puritanical Islamic fundamentalism. They can presumably afford to do so because they’ve been bankrolled by the black-market oil industry run by the “Islamic State” in northern Iraq and Syria. With ISIS now being driven out of its erstwhile heartland in Iraq and Syria, this may be changing. ISIS may be the next to sully themselves with cannabis.
But, as with opium, it would be naive to assume there aren’t also officials and warlords on the Afghan government side that have got a hand in the hash trade.
Anti-Pot Groups Urge Connecticut Lawmakers to Keep Cannabis Illegal
Massachusetts Rakes in Almost $24 Million in First Two Months of Legal Cannabis
Report Shows Ontario Police Writing 21 Tickets for Cannabis a Day
Woman Arrested For Allegedly Feeding Dog Meth, Weed-Laced Milkshake
Activism5 days ago
Canadian Cannabis Activist Marc Emery Accused of Chronic Sexual Misconduct
Culture2 days ago
New Study Shows Joints Waste 300 Percent More THC Than Dabs
News6 days ago
Marijuana Legalization Bill Killed by Virginia Lawmakers
News5 days ago
Iowa Mayor Charged For Growing 18 Marijuana Plants in Her Home
News1 day ago
Professional Skateboarder Suspended After Testing Positive for Weed
Medical Marijuana6 days ago
Governor of Florida Pushing to Lift Ban on Smokeable Marijuana
News6 days ago
Are Unlicensed Operators Accessing California’s Legal Cannabis Market?
Culture6 days ago
Why the Women of Broad City are the Stoner Heroines We’ve Been Waiting For