Cassandra project part 11
By funding terrorism and military operations through global drug trafficking and organized crime, Mughniyeh’s business affairs unit within Islamic Jihad had become the embodiment of the kind of threat the United States was struggling to address in the post-9/11 world.
The DEA believed that it was the logical U.S. national security agency to lead the interagency effort to go after Mughniyeh’s drug trafficking networks. But within the multipronged U.S. national security apparatus, this was both a questionable and problematic assertion.
Established by President Richard Nixon in 1973 to bring together the various anti-drug programs under the Department of Justice, the DEA was among the youngest of the U.S. national security agencies.
And while the DEA had quickly proven itself adept at working on the global stage — especially in partnerships with drug-infested countries desperate for U.S. help like Colombia — few people within the U.S. government thought of it as a legitimate counterterrorism force.
In the final years of the Bush administration, though, the DEA had won the support of top officials for taking down two major international arms dealers, a Syrian named Monzer al-Kassar and the Russian “Lord of War,” Viktor BoutViktor Anatolyevich BoutVladimir Putin's arms dealer, known as the "Lord of War." Convicted of conspiracy to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombian narcoterrorists.×. And thanks to supportive Republicans in Congress, it had become the beneficiary of a new federal law that empowered its globe-trotting cadre of assault-weapon-toting Special Operations agents.
The statute allowed DEA agents to operate virtually anywhere, without permission required from other U.S. agencies. All they needed to do was connect drug suspects to terrorism, and they could arrest them, haul them back to the United States and flip them in an effort to penetrate “the highest levels of the world’s most significant and notorious criminal organizations,” as then-Special Operations chief Derek Maltz Senior DEA official told Congress in November 2011.