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Texas authorities believe the sale of a plant being grown in their state is benefitting the Somalia terrorist group, al-Shabaab, among others.  About 1,000 pounds of the plant have been confiscated and lead to multiple arrests.  Muslim civil rights groups are raising concerns over the Texas authorities investigation.

The plant is known as khat.  Its leaves are known contain an amphetamine-like stimulant.  The World Health Organization classified the drug as one that produces mild to moderate psychological dependence, though less than alcohol and tobacco.  Growing khat is said to be banned in the United States and Canada, and targeted by the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) believes that sale of khat overseas is going in-part to fund the Somali-based militants.  Some believe this growing concern over khat goes back to last year, when to police caught caught two men chewing the plant during a traffic stop.  Furthermore, the current DPS director is Steven McCraw, a former FBI-assistant director.  McCraw gave congressional testimony in which he alleges khat profits reach the Muslim militants.  The DPS is quick, however, to point out that their investigations has not produced any terrorism-related charges or arrests.

Civil rights group fear this appears to be similar to another witch-hunt, in which an item linked to a small group of people in certain immigrant communities is being targeted.  Muslim groups says, even if no charges have been filled, damage is done to the Muslim community through association.


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