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Khat not linked to terrorism: RCMP

Khat users chew the drug to ingest an ingredient which is similar to an amphetamine. (QMI AGENCY PHOTO)

Toronto Sun
Monday, May 07, 2012
The RCMP say they’ve not found “hard evidence” to show that proceeds from the illegal trade of the East African drug khat is being used to fund terrorism.

Seven men were arrested in Britain last week for allegedly smuggling

millions of dollars worth of khat to the U.S. and Canada, with the profits

being funnelled to terror groups, police alleged.

Tonnes of the drug — a leafy plant — arrives at Pearson International Airport daily from Britain. RCMP officers have made dozens of arrests and seizures

at Pearson.

“There is no hard evidence for us to link khat to terrorism,” said Supt.

Rick Penney, the RCMP’s GTA drug enforcement commander. “There is an awful

lot of it that we seize coming into the country.”

He said khat, which has a shelf-life of several days, is smuggled by

couriers in suitcases and boxes from Britain, where it is not illegal.

He estimated about 100 tonnes of khat is seized yearly at Pearson.

“Someone will always be making money in a scheme like this,” Penney said.

“One can always pre-suppose where the money is going but there is no hard


Most of the khat is smuggled by couriers, who range from students to

seniors, and are paid up to $3,000 by khat dons to bring a load here.

They risk being charged with importing a controlled substance. Most of those convicted are fined.

Police alleged the British suspects were raising funds for a number

of al-Qaida cells, including Al-Shahab, whose members have been fighting for

Islamic law in Somalia.

British cops claimed the suspects are part of a sophisticated network with

links abroad that illegally exported khat to North America.

Khat is illegal in Canada but it remains popular among those from East African nations like Somalia and Kenya. Users chew the leaves to ingest a juice that contains an ingredient similar to amphetamine.

The drug has to be cleared from Pearson airport and transported to Toronto-area

stores for resale in hours or it begins decaying, police said.


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