U.S. authorities are planning a new campaign to choke off the prime source of financing for terrorists in Afghanistan, sending in dozens of federal drug-enforcement agents to disrupt the massive opium trade and the money that streams to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, reports the Associated Press. The influx of agents, which would boost the number of anti-drug officials inside Afghanistan from a dozen to nearly 80, is part of an Obama administration strategy to use U.S. and NATO troops to target “higher-level drug lords.”
Plans described to members of Congress behind closed doors this month suggest the effort will be modeled after the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s campaign against drug cartels in South America. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services terrorism subcommittee, said the DEA’s effort is aimed at crippling the Afghan narcotics networks by driving up the costs of the opium trade. Discussing his strategy for Afghanistan last week, President Barack Obama said the country’s economy “is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency.” The DEA aims to complete its expansion inside Afghanistan by late this fall, said Michael Braun, the agency’s operations chief until late last year.