Selling drugs to finance arms purchases — why does that sound so familiar? The New York Times reports:
A group of men agreed to assist the Taliban in a conspiracy to ship narcotics through West Africa to the United States and with the proceeds buy weapons for use against American forces in Afghanistan, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced on Monday.
The charges stemmed from a sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, in which paid informants posed as representatives of the Taliban and discussed arrangements for the proposed drugs and weapons deals with the accused conspirators in meetings in West Africa and Eastern Europe.
One conspirator told the confidential informants that they could obtain heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, antitank missiles, grenade launchers, night vision equipment, sniper rifles and AK-47 assault rifles, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
The defendants included two Americans, who were both accused of conspiring to provide surface-to-air missiles to the Taliban and to provide material support to terrorists.
As part of the sting, an informant acting as a Taliban representative explained that the missiles were needed to protect the Taliban’s heroin laboratories from attacks by American Cobra and Blackhawk helicopters.
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said the defendants “were prepared to provide millions of dollars in dangerous narcotics and lethal weapons to men they believed represented the Taliban.”
“This alleged effort to arm and enrich the Taliban,” Mr. Bharara said, “is the latest example of the dangers of an interconnected world in which terrorists and drug runners can link up across continents to harm Americans.”…
For more information, see original article.