Terrorism's Harvest

How al-Qaeda is tapping into the opium trade to finance violence and destabilize Afghanistan

U.S. forces on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of the Taliban in late 2001 didn't worry much about elderly, pious-looking men like Haji Juma Khan. A towering tribesman from the Baluchistan desert near Pakistan, Khan was picked up that December near Kandahar and taken into U.S. custody. Though known to U.S. and Afghan officials as a drug trafficker, he seemed an insignificant catch. "At the time, the Americans were only interested in catching bin Laden and [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar," says a European counterterrorism expert in Kabul. "Juma Khan walked."

That decision has come back to...

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