The Nexus
International Terrorism and Drug Trafficking from Afghanistan
by Frank Shanty
March 2011, 288pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38521-6
$61, £47, 54€, A84
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38522-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The opium/heroin trade has been and continues to be a destabilizing factor in Afghanistan and a grave regional and international security concern. Does a symbiotic relationship exist between drug criminals, some public officials, the Taliban, and other terrorist/insurgent entities in Afghanistan? If so, what are the implications of that unholy alliance?

This timely and important work offers an in-depth analysis of the existence—or nonexistence—of a nexus between international terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from Afghanistan.

The Nexus: International Terrorism and Drug Trafficking from Afghanistan addresses an issue that directly impacts the prospects for resolution of the current insurgency in that nation. Written by noted terrorism expert Frank Shanty, the book explores the nature and the extent of involvement between international criminal drug traffickers, particularly of drugs originating from Afghanistan, and international terrorist networks with global reach.

Shanty dispels the myths and disinformation surrounding this vital—and controversial—question, even as he arrives at his own answers. In addition to offering a historical overview of the opium problem in Afghanistan from the late 1970s to 2010, the book looks at three distinct phenomena. It examines the existence, characteristics, and behavior of international terrorists operating from Afghanistan, specifically the evolution and ascendancy of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the nature of their relationship. It looks at Afghanistan’s opium trade relative to specific-actor involvement and, finally, it analyzes allegations of a link between terrorists in Afghanistan and international drug criminals and the implications of that connection.


  • 23 figures, tables, charts, graphs, and sidebars
  • 5 maps showing drug trafficking routes and terrorist attack data
  • A list of abbreviations and acronyms
  • A list of Islamic terms and concepts
  • A 126-page bibliography
Frank Shanty, PhD, is cofounder and director of research for the Cobra Institute, a terrorism and counterterrorism research firm in Abingdon, MD. Shanty has coauthored two published works on terrorism and served as general editor and contributing author on Encyclopedia of World Terrorism, Volume 4 and ABC-CLIO's Organized Crime: From Trafficking to Terrorism. Shanty was also chief consultant and contributing author for Mafia.


"With Afghanistan and Pakistan emerging as the global epicenter of terrorism, the international community has been searching for the link between narcotics and insurgency. Based on extensive research, a world authority on the terrorism-crime nexus, Dr. Frank Shanty presents compelling evidence of that operational link."—Professor Rohan Gunaratna, Head, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Singapore and author of Inside Al Qaeda: The Global Network of Terror (Columbia University Press)

"Dr. Shanty has taken a complex topic and examined in great detail the various factors including state and non-state actors which comprise the present insurgency and their relationship to Afghanistan's opium trade. He argues, quite convincingly, that much of the conventional wisdom regarding the drug-terror nexus in Afghanistan is not based on fact and he provides a detailed analysis of what the present evidence reveals."—Jeffrey Ian Ross, University of Baltimore and author of Political Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary Approach

“Much has been written about narco-terrorism. With exemplary thoroughness and methodological rigor, Frank Shanty has tested the thesis about links between terrorism and drugs trafficking in the case of Al Qaeda. He found no 'smoking gun' of such a link but plenty of evidence of willful disinformation by policy makers driven by politically-motivated agendas and careless media believing them—an eye-opener and required reading for all those who cherish accuracy, objectivity, and impartiality over partisanship and propaganda in the War on Terror.”—Dr. Alex P. Schmid, Former Officer-in-Charge of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

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