Skip to comments.Drugs, Russia and Terrorism
Posted on 03/10/2002 3:05:54 AM PST by xvb
Drugs, Russia and Terrorism Joseph D. Douglass Jr.
Editor's Note: This article is the first part of a two-part article.
"When we fight drugs, we fight the war on terror," President Bush explained on Feb. 12 as he announced an increase in the budget for the war on drugs.
He is right. Additionally, we cannot wage a real war on terrorism without waging a real war on illegal drugs, because the two are closely coupled. The two are so intertwined that perhaps the real question is "How can we win a war on terrorism if we can't win a war on drugs?"
The players are the same in both games. Drug trafficking is a significant source of terrorist financing. The root of several terrorist groups is narcotics trafficking, and vice versa.
The few drug traffickers who are not terrorists depend on terrorists for protection and enforcement services that are usually paid for in drugs. This is just the start of the hidden side of the war on terrorism.
The Scope of the Problem
A little over a year ago, a U.S. government interagency group conducted a study of international organized crime. Its conclusions were more frightening than the 9-11 attacks.
Just the money-laundering part of international organized crime revenues was estimated to be at least $900 billion, possibly exceeding $2 trillion, a year. Other studies place their gross annual revenues at $2+ trillion.
Drug trafficking, with annual revenues at $500+ billion, is one of the major components of organized crime.
Another component is the sale of illegal goods and arms sales, most of which go to terrorists and terrorist regimes.
A third component is organized crime's role as an intermediary in helping terrorist groups and rogue nations acquire weapons of mass destruction.
The money dimension of organized crime its use for buying favors, corruption and compromise is probably of greatest concern. Only a few statements from the interagency report, "International Crime Threat Assessment" (December 2000), are needed to tell the story.
"Most organized crime groups have successfully corrupted those persons charged with investigating and prosecuting them."
"Criminal groups are most successful in corrupting high-level politicians and government officials in countries that are their home base of operations."
"International criminals are attracted to global finance and trade. They are able to avoid scrutiny because of the importance to businesses and governments of facilitating commercial and financial transactions." "Criminal groups cultivate and rely on corrupt political elites, government officials, and law enforcement and security personnel to protect their operations and to provide cover."
"They use illicit proceeds to: finance political campaigns, buy votes, protect their operations, influence legislation, gain insider access, and pre-empt prosecutions."
One more. "One of the more significant developments since the end of the Cold War has been the growing involvement of insurgent, paramilitary, and extremist groups." In other words, terrorists.
One Big Happy Family
It is not just that terrorism feeds off drug trafficking. Rather, terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are one big happy family.
Originally, these were independent operations that emerged in different regions and grew in an evolutionary manner. This is not the nature of these operations today.
This is because in the latter half of the last century, various states (mainly Communist states that were inherently criminal and terrorist in nature) recognized the potential of these operations as revolutionary weapons.
Thus they proceeded to build narcotics trafficking, organized crime and terrorism into major state intelligence operations.
The three operations trafficking, terrorism and crime are different but complementary. They work together while striving to appear independent of each other.
They do not compete with each other, but cooperate synergistically. The three have become so intertwined that war on any one of the three means war on all.
In reality, this is what needs to be done to wage war on all three. They are all unacceptable, they are all covert intelligence attack operations, each can have dire consequences, and all need to be eradicated.
The most damaging are drug trafficking and organized crime, not terrorism.
Terrorism is the least damaging of the three because its main product is physical damage, in contrast to organized crime and drugs, which attack the moral basis of society and corrupt its leadership and institutions.
However, because of the built-in publicity that goes along with terrorism, it is terrorism that gets the lion's share of the attention. Witness the U.S. government's response to the 9-11 attacks.
Actually, far greater damage is done each year by organized crime and drug trafficking in terms of deaths, casualties, corruption and economic costs.
In organized crime, the top of the "underworld" is the "overworld." These are the people who pull the political and financial strings. (See David Jordan, "Drug Politics," University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.)
The level of importance of the overworld can be judged by the $2+ trillion in annual revenues, which buys a horrendous amount of corruption, compromise and complicity. Its main targets are political parties, top government officials, judges, top law firms, financial institutions, news media, investigatory/police agencies and intelligence services.
As pointed out in the "International Crime Threat Assessment," the corruption and compromise achieved staggers the mind. This is a global phenomenon including corruption, compromise and complicity in the United States and in our allies as well as in the usual Middle East suspects. This phenomenon and its implications need to be understood. Our war-on-terrorism objective is to destroy terrorism around the world, in the process drawing no distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them.
The implications need to be made explicit. Terrorism is critically dependent on the financial, logistic, material supply and political corruption networks that involve or overlap those of organized crime and state intelligence services.
We cannot cut the terrorists' principal financial support without invading the heart and soul of organized crime: finance and money laundering.
Further, organized crime has 10 times more lawyers and finance specialists than our Justice Department and FBI, and they are all much better paid, better connected and more committed.
This is where the war-on-terrorism rabbit hole takes us and the end is still not in sight.
Involvement of Russia and China
Another critical yet overlooked facet of the terrorism problem was raised briefly during the recent Senate Intelligence Committee National Security Threat hearings. The key question was asked by Sen. Evan Bayh: "Are Russia and China involved with enabling evil?"
This question was highly relevant because certain facts with respect to China and Russia, both of which presumably joined us in the war on terrorism, have been missing in discussions about the war on terror.
It is well known that China has been one of the biggest supporters of Middle East terrorists and rogue regimes seeking to acquire long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Even more involved has been Russia. In its former incarnation as the Soviet Union, Russia is the granddaddy of international terrorism.
Today's international terrorism is fundamentally the product of Russia's military intelligence, the GRU, and to a lesser extent its civilian intelligence, the KGB. Both the KGB and GRU are alive, well and more powerful today than they were under Communism.
Further, the greatest sources of potential weapons of mass destruction, missiles and submarine proliferation over the past decade have been the various Russian laboratories and organizations (e.g., military and intelligence).
Thus, the possible involvement of Russia and China should have been under intense CIA covert scrutiny for many years, and Sen. Bayh deserved an honest and straightforward answer. What he got was a near-incoherent response.
Consider Director Tenet's answer: "Well, sir, I would say that, first of all and it's all separate. The reasons may be different. And at times we have distinctions between government and entities. And that's always and I don't want to make it a big distinction, but sometimes you're dealing with both those things."
Translation: "Yes, Senator, we believe there is involvement, but we don't understand the role of those who are involved, whether they are independent 'entities' or government representatives. Obviously, because we are trying to build a friendship with Russia and because we would not know what to do if they were involved, we would rather not discuss this subject at this time."
The Crimes of Communism
To complete the picture, we need to go back 50 years to the origins of today's international terrorism, narcotics trafficking and organized crime.
This is not an easy subject to address because of the efforts within academia, political circles, the news media and policy centers for 80 years to keep silent about the crimes of Communism, as eloquently explained in the recent study "The Black Book of Communism" (Harvard University Press, 1999). Because of this silence, data on Communist crimes come as a shock to most people and, hence, is hard to believe.
This "silence" is the cornerstone of the political protection that is largely responsible for the unprecedented growth of organized crime, drug trafficking and international terrorism over the past 50 years. This is the hardest lesson of all, and it has not been learned.
That organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism are Russian (and Chinese) STATE operations is hard for people to accept and even harder to incorporate into their thinking and planning because of the long history of political, news, and academic leadership silence respecting these crimes of Communism.
How can these be state operations when our own leaders are silent about them? The implications of this question are equally troublesome.
Origins of Today's Terrorism
The origins of today's terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime were experienced first-hand by the former top-level Czech Communist official, Gen. Maj. Jan Sejna. He was chief of staff to the minister of defense and was on the inside of the planning and execution of all three operations by various Communist state intelligence services, most notably the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.
No one in the U.S. government wanted to hear what he had to say, including (or especially) the CIA, because his information was politically most incorrect. (See the book "Red Cocaine," Edward Harle, 1999.) What Sejna had to say with respect to the Soviet operations can be summarized as follows.
When Khrushchev came to power in 1954, he set about renovating the Soviet Union's global revolutionary war movement, which had stagnated under Stalin.
Under Khrushchev's direction, the Soviets quickly dropped the "revolutionary war" moniker and henceforth referred to the activity as wars of "national liberation" to reflect a new deception, that these were only national liberation movements and not internationally stimulated revolutionary war operations, which is what they really were.
Concurrent with this change, three new strategic intelligence operations (that is, ones of strategic importance) were adopted: international narcotics trafficking (to undermine the society and weaken its leaders), international organized crime (to corrupt the politicians and financial institutions) and international terrorism (to destabilize the countries and create revolutionary situations).
Terrorism and drug trafficking were run mainly out of the GRU and organized crime was run mainly out of the KGB.
The Soviets already had considerable experience in these operations. Since its inception, the Soviet Union has been synonymous with terror. As explained in "The New KGB" (William R. Corson and Robert T. Crowley, Morrow, 1986), "No nation in the world can claim parity with the USSR in this bloody arena."
The chief instrument in the orchestration and implementation of terror was the Cheka, forerunner of the KGB. Its head was Felix Dzerzhinsky, who spent many years in prison (1897-1899, 1900-1902, 1912-1917) prior to the overthrow of the Russian czar in February 1917.
While he was in prison, his toughness and leadership ability won him the respect of the prisoners, most of whom were members of the Russian criminal underworld and from whom he learned the fine art of crime. He was even made an honorary member of the Russian underworld.
The Russian Mafia
Lenin appointed him head of the Cheka a few weeks following the November coup, and Dzerzhinsky proceeded to build the Cheka into a Mafia-like instrument of terror whose sole goal was the protection of the Bolshevik regime.
As in the Mafia, novitiates had to earn their keep by obediently carrying out acts of murder and brutality and live according to their oath of secrecy and loyalty until death.
The Russian criminal underworld that Dzerzhinsky knew so well was actually used as a mechanism for propping up the failing socialist economy. However, it was thoroughly penetrated and watched to ensure that it did not become in any sense a threat to the state.
The Russian Mafia, from the beginning of the Soviet Union, was, in effect, an informal extension of the Cheka (KGB). By the time of Dzerzhinsky's death in 1926, the culture was set.
As foreign intelligence operations grew, narcotics were used to both trap and corrupt foreign officials. Contraband smuggling, an organized crime activity, was actually facilitated because it provided an ongoing activity that was an ideal mechanism for inserting intelligence agents, later spetsnaz professionals, under the cover of a common criminal activity.
'Wars of National Liberation'
Up until 1955, these operations crime, drugs and terror were mainly internal security operations and low-level tactical foreign operations. But beginning in 1955, this quickly changed as decisions were made to build serious strategic intelligence operations in all three areas organized crime, illegal drugs and terror in support of the new wars of national liberation.
For each area, strategic deception operations, another traditional Russian forte, were devised to safeguard the operations by masking their connection to the Soviet intelligence services.
During the latter half of the 1950s, there was a planning and organizing phase during which operational strategies were worked out, intelligence cadres were trained, logistics and material supply lines were organized, and special covert communications were established.
By 1960 the base had been built and field operations were initiated, with indigenous people from various countries recruited and trained to run the foreign country aspect of operations.
To appreciate their successful growth, consider:
In drug trafficking, by 1965 the Soviets (assisted by their East European satellite intelligence services) had multiple indigenous drug production and distribution operations around the world, but most important in almost every Latin American country and half of the Caribbean Islands.
By 1968, the KGB estimated that the Soviets controlled over 37 percent of the drug trafficking into the United States. The growth in cocaine trafficking, beginning in 1967, was almost 90 percent the result of Soviet operations set up in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia between 1963 and 1966. Venezuela was a major organizing and money laundering center.
In terrorism, the Soviets recruited, organized and trained terrorist groups around the world, from Japan and Indonesia to Cuba and Latin America, but particularly those in the Middle East.
By 1984, the role of the Soviet Union in organizing, training, sponsoring and equipping all terrorist groups was documented and terrorism was acknowledged to be a "global force." (See, for example, Benjamin Netanyahu, editor, "Terrorism: How The West Can Win," Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1986.)
In organized crime, by 1960 there were over 80 Soviet penetration agents within just the Italian mafia. By 1968 they had penetrated most of the 200 international organized crime groups around the world (their count) and had organized over 75 new groups. Czechoslovakia itself ran or had infiltrated 50 organized crime groups around the world.
By 1990, Russian organized crime was regarded by police and national law enforcement agencies in both the United States and Europe as far and away the most vicious and controlling of all the organized crime groups.
Initially, these were three complementary but independent operations. Gradually, the three operations became integrated. The roots of integration were present as early as 1965 when the Tri-Continental Congress, called to coordinate terrorist planning, first met in Havana.
It looked (at the secret level) like a terrorist coordination meeting. But at the top secret level, the meeting was used to cover the coordination of drug trafficking and money laundering, which at that time was in the process of being redesigned by top-level experts within organized crime and international finance.
Over the subsequent years, the synergism and need for coordination to keep the operations from stepping on each other's toes led to their natural integration. In the case of drug trafficking and terrorism, this merger was recognized in the West in the early 1980s and labeled narco-terrorism.
U.S. Intelligence Cutback
It would be nice to think that these activities were discarded by the KGB and GRU after the Soviet Union metamorphosed back into Russia in 1991. But no one yet has explained why they would ever want to discard such immensely profitable and powerful entities as drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism, especially when no one in the West complained.
That would have been politically incorrect, not to mention impolite. It would also have meant breaking the silence in a meaningful way, which no one in a position of authority has done.
What is most unfortunate, and almost unbelievable, the instant Russia emerged in its new garb, the United States cut back to the bare bone all intelligence collection directed against the former Soviet Union. This was at the precise time when, from a national security perspective, intelligence collection should have been expanded.
This was the best time in 70 years to run collection operations, due to the temporary confusion present in the former Soviet Union. Moreover, it was tremendously important to know what was happening then.
The Russians were notorious for their use of Ptomkin-like deceptions to get the West to believe they had changed and were no longer a threat (e.g., Lenin's New Economic Plan in the 1920s, Khrushchev's "peaceful coexistence" in the 1950s, Brezhnev's "detente" in the late 1960s, and Gorbachev's perestroika in the 1980s).
In 1982, Yuri Andropov, a master of deception and chief of the KGB, was made general secretary of the Communist Party, and the KGB moved into the Kremlin. As noted in "The New KGB," it had been Andropov's goal as early as 1967 to modernize the KGB and orchestrate its assumption of full control of the Soviet state.
The world revolutionary movement was again stagnating, and Andropov believed that the KGB "solution" was the only practical way to get rid of the bureaucracy that was choking both the Party and the government.
That something big was about to happen was actually signaled in 1988 and 1989 when Georgiy Arbatov, a top Russian theoretician and director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, stated several times that they were going to do a terrible thing to us they were going to deprive us of their enemy image.
Rather than increase our vigilance, however, U.S. intelligence curtailed intelligence collection.
Henceforth, U.S. intelligence about and understanding of what was happening in Russia went from poor to worse.
The seriousness of this U.S. intelligence cutback is magnified because this was also the culmination of what increasingly appears to be a Soviet effort, timed to coincide with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and rebirth of Russia, to switch its direct support of international terrorism from the GRU and KGB offices to organized crime operations, to achieve a measure of deniability.
The recognition of Soviet ties to and sponsorship of international terrorism had become embarrassingly evident by the early 1980s (See Herbert Romerstein, "Soviet Support for International Terrorists," Foundation for Democratic Action, 1981) and the image of this relationship had to be cleaned up.
The sudden emergence of the Russian Mafia (which in reality was a KGB operation) around the world as a "consequence" of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 now appears to have been one of the mechanisms employed.
The sudden emergence of the Russian Mafia (which in reality was a KGB operation) around the world as a "consequence" of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 now appears to have been one of the mechanisms employed.
This is just fantastic. Sudden emergence of Russian Mafia. Looks like those who watched USSR for decades did not see how Soviet economy was shifting into 'grey' market. How pity. Andropov's problem was not just rotting stiff bureaucracy - he had to find solution to 'grey' market as well. Underground economy had to be ether crushed or converted into legal. Andropov had no time and power to do one - and no will to do another. Gorbachev did, but late and with stupid idea to keep it in colors od socialism.
The only thing that really changed "in 1991" is opening of Soviet borders for free trade and travel. BTW, "in 1991" is another lie - internationalization of 'grey' market economy started much earlier. Flow of raw materials, dirty money, know-how, art and archives was gradually increasing in 80s (mostly second half), but The West was in Gorbazm mood and did not care about criminal element involved in all this.
Now, suddenly, they found Russian Mafia. Who to blame? Here comes a blossom of discover: KGB!
Anyway we should all be thanking the Russian mafia. They were the ones who sold those fake nukes to OBL. I laughed about that one for weeks.
Newsmax has lost all of my respect. In the first place the main sources of drug running in Europe are the KLA and buddies. Albanians do more of it than anyone.
In the second place, I am glad the Russians have good intelligence. I am glad it is more powerful today than it used to be. They need it to fight the chechen wahabi scum.
But just try to find one thing written about Putin that doesn't mention his KGB past. They can't get past the first sentence in most cases, without labeling him as such.
I agree. You can destroy both terrorism and drug traffickers with one very simple change in policy: Embrace freedom and abandon oppression. End drug prohibition.
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