Huge heroin bust off coast of Kenya hailed as a blow against terrorism in Africa

The Australian navy Thursday intercepted a ship hiding a metric ton of heroin to be smuggled into Africa. The HMSA Darwin is part of an international maritime force fighting terrorism, smuggling and piracy off the coast of Africa and the Middle East.

The heroin was found in 46 packages hidden among bags of cement. The Darwin’s commander, Terrence Morrison, said proceeds of drug trafficking are likely to be used by extremist groups in East and West Africa to bank-roll terrorist activities in the growing vulnerable region. In a recent interview, Olawale Maiyegun, the director of the African Union social affairs department, said there was no part of Africa that was free from drug trafficking, although the crime was more prevalent in West Africa and recently in the continent’s eastern region.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said seizures of heroin in East Africa have increased almost tenfold since 2009.

Maiyegun, who was a senior Nigerian diplomat and leading anti- money laundering official before joining the African Union, said with Kenya suffering more organized crime, there was a possibility that proceeds from piracy and drug running could have been used to commit the recent terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall that killed 67 civilians and security agents and injured at least 175 others.

“There is high crime in Kenya, including piracy, drug trafficking and terrorism, and I have no doubt that money from piracy played a significant role in the recent attack at the shopping mall,” he said.

Al-Qaida-linked Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retribution for Kenya’ s military deployment in neighboring Somalia.

In Nigeria, where drugs have become a serious problem, authorities also fight with the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram which aims to create an Islamic state and in the process kill several hundreds of people, mostly Christians, in the country.

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