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Monday, May 28, 2001

price gouging

"A UN panel has accused Afghanistan's Taliban rulers of selling stockpiled opium and heroin to finance its war and train terrorists.

In a report to the Security Council, the panel questioned the sincerity of the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, in banning poppy cultivation last July.

They say that the large stockpile suggests that the Taliban only want to halt production to keep opium and heroin prices from plummeting.

Their report said: "If Taliban officials were sincere in stopping the production of opium and heroin, then one would expect them to order the destruction of all stocks existing in areas under their control."

The UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention reported that Afghanistan's opium production was about 2,500 tons in 1998; 4,600 tons in 1999 and 3,100 tons in 2000 which amounted to a sizable stock of opium and heroin.

The Security Council froze Taliban assets and imposed an international flight ban on Ariana airlines in November 1999.

The move was put pressure on the hardline militia to turn over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden for trial over the US embassy bombings in Africa in August 1998."