Journalist and author Gretchen Peters shared her in-depth research into the Taliban and al Qaeda, organizations whose members are better described as Mafia thugs than pious Muslims, she noted. They are heavily involved in drug trafficking and other illicit activities, Peters explained, and have been since the U.S.-backed Mujahedeen warlords drove Soviet forces out of Afghanistan then turned against each other.
According to Peters, the Taliban encourages farmers to cultivate poppy, taxes their output, and justifies its hypocritical participation in trafficking with the "bogus argument" that it is permissible (under Islamic law) to sell drugs to infidels in the West. Low level operatives within al Qaeda and other extremist groups help move heroin shipments out of Afghanistan and into Europe, she continued.
Their huge poppy-derived revenues fund fighting against American troops in Afghanistan, terrorist activities abroad, and may one day allow the Taliban to acquire nuclear weapons, Peters warned. In order to defeat them, Peters suggested the U.S. implement a counterinsurgency strategy and reshape its tactics to be as fluid as those of the enemy.