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First Secretary Haidari Visits Afghan Pilots and DEA FAST Agents in El Paso

First Secretary Ashraf Haidari joined senior officials from the US Department of Defense Office of Counter-Narcotics and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to visit their training and commanding facilities in El Paso, Texas, on November 2-3, 2006. During his visit to Ft. Bliss, he met with Afghan MI-17 pilots and DEA Foreign-Advisory Support Teams (FAST) who train for air support and interdiction operations in Afghanistan. In each meeting, Haidari stressed the importance of law enforcement as one of the key pillars of Afghanistan’s Drug Control Strategy. He thanked the Afghan pilots and FAST agents in training to help the Afghan Counter-Narcotics Police (CNPA) enforce Afghanistan’s counter-narcotics law against narco-terrorists.

In addition, Haidari accompanied Special Advisor to Commander US CENTCOM Mike Heath, DEA Chief of Operations Michael Braun and Chief of Law Enforcement Operations Thomas Harrigan to meet with Joint Task Force-North (JTF-N) Commanding General Brigadier General Anthony Ierardi. JTF-N is a multi-service operation by the US Department of Defense for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, which supports both the DEA FAST and Afghan pilots training programs at Fort Bliss.

In discussions over the direct connection between narcotics and terrorism, Haidari said, “since the establishment of the Interim Regime, President Karzai has been saying that ‘if we do not eliminate drugs, drugs will eliminate us.’ It is now an established fact that drug money funds the Taliban insurgency and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. This requires us to include counter-narcotics as a major component of the war against terrorism which is increasingly financed by drug money. Our efforts should shift from counter-terrorism to an integrated and effective combat against narco-terrorism, which is the real threat facing us and our international partners in securing Afghanistan and the world.”

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