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Europe: Hashish Growers Fight Police in "Greece's Colombia"

Three Greek police officers taking part in a raid on a hashish plantation were ambushed and shot by suspected growers armed with AK-47s Sunday night, leaving one officer in critical condition with a head wound. The attack took place in the village of Malades on the Greek island of Crete, about nine miles from Heraklion, the island's largest city.

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Port of Heraklion, Crete
Sunday's shooting is the second serious attack by hash growers against police on the island in seven months. Last November, three police officers were shot and wounded when their convoy was headed to the village of Zoniana, just west of Heraklion. The Greek government responded with a massive police sweep and house-to-house searches. Police arrested 16 people in connection with the ambush and a series of bank robberies, but recovered few of the heavy weapons believed to have been used in that assault.

Crete has a longstanding tradition of gun-ownership, and weapons remain readily available despite police efforts to crack down. Marijuana growing is rife in remote mountain villages on the island. Marijuana growers and dealers routinely take pot-shots at police helicopters or vehicles patrolling their area, prompting the Greek media to refer to the region as a "Greek Colombia" and a "state within a state," according to Agence France-Presse. Local officials in Crete are often accused of protecting growers and traffickers, the agency noted.

As was the case after the Zoniana ambush, Greek police responded this week with another manhunt. Greek Police head Vassilis Tsiatouras ordered a contingent of police from Athens to the scene, including Greek SWAT teams, members of the criminology service, officers of the police drugs squad, and members of the homicide force. In all likelihood, their search will reach the same inconclusive results as before.

"Cannabis Cash 'Funds Islamist Terrorism'"--Here we go again.

The old "drug users fund terrorism" canard is getting new play in Europe this week, where French and Spanish intelligence agencies reported that, as the Guardian (UK) put it, "Cannabis cash 'funds Islamist terrorism'". The report was the result of an investigation launched after the 2004 Madrid train bombings that found the bomb plotters bought their explosives from former miners and paid them in hashish. The intelligence agencies also claimed that the Al Qaeda-linked Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat is using hash sales as part of "a complex network" of financing its terrorist operations. I don't doubt that. People who need money for nefarious schemes typically resort to the black market economy, whether it is drugs, diamonds, oil, or whatever commodity. It is so screamingly obvious that I hesitate to point it out, but pot smokers don't fund terrorism—prohibition does. You don't hear of barley or grapevines or tobacco leaves funding terrorism because they are used to make non-prohibited psychoactive drugs that are integrated into the legal, aboveground economy. If you want to stop Islamic terrorists from using the black market profits from the hash trade to buy bombs, the solution is clear: End the prohibition regime that creates the black market.
Location: 

Dutch Court Rules That Fisherman Can Write Off Smuggled Drugs

Location: 
The Hague
Netherlands
Publication/Source: 
Fox News
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,261633,00.html

Middle East: After Lebanon War, Israeli Cannabis Prices Spike

During last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, some Israeli hash smokers called for a boycott of Lebanese hash. Now that hostilities have ceased, however, Israeli hash heads have a new problem: The stuff is just too damned expensive.

According to an article published in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and picked up by various news agencies, supply disruptions during the war and increased border security since then -- not only on the Lebanese border, but also those with the Palestinian Territories and Egypt -- have caused the price of cannabis to spike eight-fold.

Smoking and selling cannabis are illegal but popular activities in Israel.

The report on increased prices came during a briefing on security and drug trafficking at an Israeli village near the Lebanese border. "While we are sitting here, dozens of kilos of drugs are making their way into Israel through the village," an unnamed Israeli security officer told the newspaper. The official also claimed that Hezbollah militants not only smuggle the drugs, but use the commerce to gather intelligence along the border.

The hash shortage and resulting high prices are only aggravated by the security crackdown in Gaza and along the Egyptian border. Conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces to deter arms smuggling into Gaza, the crackdown is putting a damper on the extra-legal cross-border cannabis trade, too.

"We'll need grinders and large bongs"

From CNN.com

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.

General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover.

Awesome! But it gets better:

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

This sounds like a job for my college buddies. If the problem persists, I’d be willing to assemble a tactical unit with experience disposing of surplus cannabis.

Location: 
United States

Ghajar: Drugs for terror and intelligence--Internal Security Minister Dichter arrives in half Israeli-half Lebanese village, hears security briefing about dangers posed by village's location

Location: 
Israel
Publication/Source: 
Ynet News
URL: 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3313528,00.html

Taking a cue from marketing guru, peddlars now "package" drugs--Meant for foreign clients, these "packaged products" are smuggled outside India

Location: 
India
Publication/Source: 
Mumbai Newsline/Expressindia
URL: 
http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=202890

Editorial: Legalize the Drug Trade to Cut Off Terrorism Funding

David Borden, Executive Director

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David Borden
A conflict that doesn't make the US radar screen as often as it merits is the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers are a nasty group that among other abuses uses children as soldiers. (I don't know enough about Sri Lanka's government to venture an opinion on its own human rights record -- a quick web search did not turn up anything quite so obvious or outrageous, though I'm slow to trust any government overmuch.) I'm not too familiar with the causes of the conflict or the issues that are driving it. Regardless, the Tigers are bad news. Naturally, media outlets located closer to the conflict cover it much more prominently.

An article in the Asia Times last weekend reported in detail on the buildup of arms on both sides and predicted intense resumed fighting. The drug trade came up:

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly charged that the Tigers' ships transported illegal drugs from Myanmar, though no concrete evidence of this has been presented. However, the Tigers do seem to have close links to organized criminal groups in Russia, Lithuania and Bulgaria, as well as foreign terrorist groups.

Whatever their source, the Tamil Tigers appear to have ample funds to acquire weapons from anywhere and everywhere. Modern assault rifles, machine-guns, anti-tank weapons (rocket-propelled grenades), mortars and even man-pack SA-7 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, China and Europe.

Without concrete evidence, one should never fully trust any government's accusations of drug trafficking made against its opponents -- not only because the government has an incentive to make its opponents look as awful as possible, but also because there are drug-fighters within the government who want the money and crave the attention, and because it is a tactic governments use to try and get the international community and the US in particular more involved with their fights.

That said, it could certainly be true -- John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian think-tank concerned with organized violence and political instability, discussed the issue of terrorist groups using the drug trade to finance their activities in an interview with this newsletter in October 2001 -- it is a substantial factor for many such organizations, and something that tends to keep them around as mere criminal organizations once the political and ideological conflicts have faded.

An arguably more reliable information source than many governments on the issue -- the Orthodox Anarchist blog, published from Jerusalem -- has made a similar observation about the hashish trade in Israel, which is extensively if not primarily supplied by Hezbollah, according to sources quoted. Author Dan Sieradski wrote last month that, "with a heavy heart, I am officially boycotting hashish effective immediately," confessed to having unintentionally helped to fund Hezbollah rockets through his consumption of it, and urged "all my Israel-based readers to cease their consumption of hashish immediately, for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Lebanese living under the yoke of Iran and Syria's oppression by proxy."

Sieradski went on to recommend, as "an imperfect solution," that the foreign trade be replaced with a domestically-supplied market through decriminalizing the growing of a small number of marijuana plants in the home. So while Sieradski has proferred this confession for himself and friends for their small part of the illicit drug trade with all its evils, he has also implicitly pointed out the blame that governments deserve for creating all of it through drug prohibition. On that idea, outright legalization would be closer to a perfect solution.

Not a perfect one, of course -- there is no perfect policy toward the permanent human issues and shortcomings that exist in relation to the use of mind-altering substances. But it is a better solution than any other. I can't say to what extent the illegal drug trade is helping Hezbollah, but clearly drug prohibition is a major contributor to violence, be it global, localized, political or economic. It is only because of prohibition that the world's underground economy is of such a size that it can help terrorist groups so very much, enough to literally cause civil wars to escalate in places like Sri Lanka or Colombia.

In a time for which political violence has become the defining issue, to continue to support it through ill-conceived laws when viable alternatives exist is senseless. It is time for some clear thinking on this issue from our leaders.

Middle East: Now, Israelis Call for Boycott of Hezbollah Hashish

Israeli drug users have long been happy to puff on Lebanese hashish, but now, as war between the two countries rages, some are calling for a boycott because the cross-border trade helps finance Hezbollah, The Jewish Daily Forward reported Thursday. Hashish is the most popular form of marijuana in Israel, and Lebanon is the number one supplier, according to Israeli law enforcement.

The boycott call came from activist and Jerusalem resident Dan Sieradski, who posted the idea on his Orthodox Anarchist blog. "A Persian-backed terrorist organization is the primary supplier of hashish to the Israeli market today," Sieradski wrote. "And this is why, with a heavy heart, I am officially boycotting hashish, effective immediately."

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Persian smoking hashish (from DrugLibrary.org)
Hashish grown in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley has traditionally been smuggled into Israel by Israeli Arabs, Bedouins, and Druze nomads, but the Forward reports that since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has taken over the trade -- and the associated profits. "Hezbollah is directly overseeing the entire operation," Police Captain Avi ElGrisi was quoted as saying in The Jerusalem Post. "They say where, when, and how much drugs are brought in."

Sieradski's call has met with mixed results. For some Israeli hash heads, the boycott is a way of expressing their dismay at the war and Hezbollah's relentless rocket attacks on Israel. "The thing is, if you buy your drugs from Lebanon, you could well be funding terrorism through Hezbollah against Israel," one user commented. "Who among us would want that on their conscience? Not me!" Another young boycotter commented: "It's bad enough that they're trying to blow up our country. I'm not going to pay them to do it."

Not everyone is on board. The Forward quoted one Jerusalem area dealer as saying, "It all comes from Hezbollah," but he could care less. His comment on the boycott? "Roll that shit, light that shit, smoke that shit."

The boycott call has also prompted some to argue that it is time to legalize the hash trade in order to weaken Hezbollah. As long as there are illicit profits to be made, it's money in the bank for the Shiite resistance organization, they noted.

The boycott call may also be an expression of the reality on the ground inside Israel. With the Lebanon-Israel border the scene of heavy fighting, it is questionable just how much Lebanese hash is getting through right now.

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