Tuesday, January 26, 2010

 

US Army Supports Afghan Drug-War Lord

Right: A farmer argues that some of his sheep were killed by an American artillery strike. Listening is Gen. Abdul Razik, the commander of the Afghan Border Patrol, Lt. Col. William Clark and an interpreter. Photo by J.M. Simpson

The Lakewood, WA-based Fort Lewis Ranger has an article by J. M. Simpson in its January 27, 2010, print edition that discusses cooperation between the US Army in Afghanistan and Abdul Razik. An apparent online version of the article is much sanitized concerning Razik while in the print edition Simpson describes Razik as "the leader of a tribal militia and Afghan Border Police (ABP) force that extends across Kandahar and Helmand provinces." Simpson says Razik "is the most powerful Afghan official in the southern part of the country." Simpson continues with a physical description of the man but eventually tells readers bluntly, "Razik is a drug lord." Simpson continues:
By controlling both Kandahar and Helmand--which produce 80 percent of Afghanistan's opium, which consequently accounts for 90 percent of the world's supply--Razik has become very wealthy.

Estimates are that he makes between $5 and $6 million per month by running drugs ...
According to UNICEF the annual gross national income per capita of Afghanistan was $250 in 2007.

In America, we purport to be staunchly opposed to drugs and drug dealers. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are in prison for drug crimes and "According to FBI reports, 83 percent of drug arrests are for possession of illegal drugs alone." US troops are routinely and randomly tested for illicit drug use. So, why are US forces working with a violent drug kingpins like Razik?

Well, according to Simpson, Razik's drug "wealth has allowed him to create a 3500-man border patrol force ... which is fiercely loyal to him" and Razik aligned himself and his "force" with the US. Lt. Col. William Clark, commander of the Ft. Lewis-based 5th Stryker Brigade's 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, knows all about Razik "and as such he has carefully cultivated a relationship with Razik in order for both men to get what they want." Simpson writes: " 'We understand each other; we get along,' said Clark before a recent meeting. They meet several times a week." The rest of the article goes on to describe how Clark and Razik reach an unspoken accomodation that will allow Razik's drugs to continue to flow freely as the Americans set up new "highway checkpoints on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border."

Ironically, in the same issue of the Fort Lewis Ranger featuring Simpson's article "8-1 'talks' with one of Taliban's most wanted" you will find a short AP article about a now-concluded court-martial against a young soldier who is blamed for the drug overdose death of his girlfriend in his Ft. Lewis barracks. She died after taking a mixture including oxycodone and oxymorphone--both are made from opium. Reportedly, at his court-martial, Private Timothy E. Bennitt "spoke authoritatively about how he began using painkillers when he returned to Fort Lewis after spending more than six months in Afghanistan ... Bennitt told Army Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, who is presiding over the court-martial, that he had surgery for an eye injury ..." Bennitt was found guilty of manslaughter last Friday. Meanwhile, Abdul Razik thrives and is one of America's good buddies.

Razik was also profiled last month in Harper's in "The master of Spin Boldak: Undercover with Afghanistan's drug-trafficking border police" (read a long excerpt here) and was featured in a 2006 article "Inspiring Tale of Triumph over Taliban Not All it Seems" by Graeme Smith in the Canadian Globe and Mail.

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