Africa

Khat-terrorism connection raises its dubious head —again

Posted on December 27th, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

khatMuslim community leaders in Texas are protesting the latest outbreak of the perennial hype over the khat plant and its supposed links to terrorism. It began when a traffic stop near Houston last year turned up two men chewing the midly psychoactive but thoroughly illegal leaf. This sparked a year-long investigation involving local, state and federal agencies that has so far resulted in more than a half-dozen arrests. The Texas Department of Public Safety took the opportunity to link khat to terrorism in its statewide threat assessment. The statement referred to the "chewable narcotic plant grown in the Horn of Africa whose sale abroad is suspected to benefit Africa-based terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab." That assessment, the Austin American-Statesman reported last month, was based on Congressional testimony given more than a decade ago by Steven McCraw—then-FBI-assistant director, now DPS director—who said it is likely that khat proceeds "pass through the hands of suspected [Islamic militants] and other persons with possible ties to terrorist groups."

French navy pops 20 tons in sea raid

Posted on September 13th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

The French navy announced Sept. 12 that it had made a record cannabis seizure in the Mediterranean sea after intercepting a ship carrying 20 tons, with an estimated value of 50 million euros. "To the best of our knowledge it is the biggest seizure by the French state in the Mediterranean," vice-admiral Yves Joly told reporters in Toulon. The Tanzania-flagged Luna-S was boarded by French naval forces in international waters between Italy and Algeria. The eight-member crew, tentatively identified as Syrians, set the cannabis on fire as the French patrol ship approached, and dramatic photos were released of smoke rising from the deck. The Luna-S had left Morocco days earlier. Tanzanian authorities say they are investigating the ship, which was registered to a company in the Marshall Islands. 

United Kingdom to ban khat

Posted on July 10th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

khatThe herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the British government—against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, finding "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems. But Home Secretary Theresa May announced her decision to ban it last week, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated. Khat will be treated as a class C drug, along with anabolic steroids and ketamine. The Home Office said the ban was intended to "protect vulnerable members of our communities." 

Seeing patterns, from Colombia to Cape Town

Africa and the War on DrugsFor those who have been wondering what the truth is behind the media sensationalism about global cartels establishing Africa as their new theater of operations, Africa and the War on Drugs  by Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig (Zed Books, London, 2012) clears the air in a welcome way.

The authors, a pair of British academics, portray a strategy by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to hype the threat and replicate the hardline policies pursued in Latin America and elsewhere on the African continent. Drug trafficking has definitely been growing in Africa in recent years—ironically, the authors argue, as a result of "successes" in Latin America. As the old cartels and their smuggling routes were broken up, new more fragmented networks have sought new routes and markets. This conveniently coincided with South Africa's reintegration to the world economy after the end of apartheid, and more generally with Africa's globalization.

South Africa: eight police arrested in dragging death

Posted on March 1st, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Eight police officers were arrested in South Africa March 1 after the death of a man they apparently tied to the back of a police van and dragged along a road in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg. Video footage showing the treatment of Mido Macia, a 27-year-old taxi driver and immigrant from Mozambique, went viral on the web, and was published by South African newspaper the Daily Sun. It shows how Macia's hands were tied to the rear of a police van behind his head before it moves off. Two hours later he was found dead in a cell, said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). A postmortem gave the cause of death as head injuries and internal bleeding.

Blood Ganja

The most enlightened cannabis connoisseurs—those who still have a link back to the values that defined the hippie culture—tend to be conscious consumers when it comes to food or computers or whatnot. They may buy organic tomatoes, boycott Taco Bell to support exploited farm workers in Florida, and petition Apple about the brutal conditions in their Chinese assembly plants. But do they pay as much attention to the source of their preferred smoking herb? 

Is there blood on your ganja?

Crime wars rock Cape Town

Posted on December 5th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

The Cape Flats, a sprawling poor area on the outskirts of Cape Town, has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's crime crisis, the country's key transshipment point for dagga (cannabis), tik (cystal meth) and heroin. Long-simmering gang wars over control of the traffic exploded into horrific violence this year, leading to political stand-offs over how to respond. Western Cape province has called a special commission of inquiry into police actions in the conflicted township of Khayelitsha following charges that corrupt and aggressive policing has enflamed violence and led to vigilantism. But national Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the inquiry is illegal and exceeds provincial powers. In July, a request from West Cape Premier Helen Zille for military troops to patrol the Flats was turned down by President Jacob Zuma. By then, some 25 people, including seven children, had been killed in drug-related violence in the Flats over the past five months. (IOL, Dec. 4; SABC, Nov. 27; The New Age, South Africa, Nov. 14; Times Live, Johannesburg, Nov. 8; AllAfrica, Oct. 4; The Economist, Aug. 11)

US expands Drug War to Africa

Posted on July 29th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

The New York Times reported July 21 that the US has begun training an elite unit of counternarcotics police in Ghana, and planning similar units in Nigeria and Kenya—part of an effort to combat the Latin American cartels that are increasingly using Africa to traffic cocaine to Europe. The decision comes despite controversy over a similar program in Central America. "We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues," said Jeffrey P. Breeden, chief of the DEA's Europe, Asia and Africa section. "It's a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up."

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