Heroin seized by Canadian warship linked to terrorist groups: commander
Published Sunday, October 6, 2013 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 6, 2013 11:24PM EDT
A commander on board a Canadian warship that seized more than 180 kilograms of heroin says the drug came from suppliers in the Middle East and is linked to terrorist groups.
HMCS Toronto Cmdr. Matthew Bowen said the drugs were destined for recipients in Africa, and would have funded "extremist elements."
He said the drugs likely have ties to terrorist organizations with connections to Afghanistan.
"We have information that leads us to believe (the heroin) is definitely linked to terrorist organizations," Bowen told CTV News on Sunday.
The massive drug bust took place approximately 800 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa. Crew members of the HMCS Toronto boarded a suspected smuggling ship and seized 154 bags of heroin.
The drugs have since been destroyed.
Bowen said the operation went "smoothly."
"Once (the smuggling ships) are confronted with a very large helicopter, a significant and well-armed boarding party that clearly knows their tactics, knows how to look after security with again, a very large warship in the background, they don't tend to give us any trouble."
The 258-crew frigate, which was on patrol in the Arabian Sea, is part of a multinational counter-terrorism effort.
Bowen said his crew has achieved its goal and they will not be pursuing the "middle men" involved in the drug operation.
"Once we have the drugs in our possession and we dispose of them, we've achieved the goal of what we want to do, which is to deny terrorist organizations the funding that comes from being involved in these kinds of smuggling operations," he said.
According to one terrorism expert, it is becoming increasingly expensive for terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab and al Qaeda, to operate.
"Obviously the terrorists need a lot of funds to pull off the attacks that they do. They need to pay salaries to people, to buy equipment, they need a lot of money to act internationally," Anthony Seaboyer, the director of the centre for security, armed forces and society at the Royal Military College of Canada, told CTV News.
He points to the deadly mall attack in Kenya, where the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabaab recently stormed Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, as an example of why it is becoming more expensive for terrorist groups to operate.
"These missions like were seeing here, they basically dry out the resources for them."
Seaboyer said the latest drug seizure is important because it shows terrorist groups that their traditional means of collecting funds is becoming "more and more complicated."
"It's really important that we are participating in these multilateral missions” adding that the operations aid preventing terror attacks.
With a report from CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao