An image from a videotape shows a French aid worker held hostage in Afghanistan wearing a headscarf.
Every time I come to Kabul, Afghanistan, there's an explosion. In September, a suicide bomber attacked a military convoy in downtown Kabul moments after I arrived at the airport. Yesterday, an IED exploded soon after I got to my hotel. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
When a blast occurs, we try to get to the scene as quickly as possible. We have to be careful, of course. In Iraq, there's often more than one attack at a time. A suicide bomber detonates a device, and then minutes later, after a crowd has gathered to help the wounded, another suicide attacker blows himself up. We haven't seen that in Afghanistan yet, but many here fear what is coming next. There's been a steady increase in IED attacks, suicide bombings, and now kidnappings.
Last month, the government of Hamid Karzai released several Taliban prisoners in exchange for a kidnapped Italian reporter. (So much for not negotiating with terrorists...) By all accounts, the Italian government put severe pressure on Karzai to make the deal. The Taliban know there are fractures in the NATO alliance, and kidnappings are a way to put stress on that alliance. In the case of the Italian journalist, the Taliban hoped to turn Italians against their government's involvement in Afghanistan and make the Karzai government look weak for giving in to their demands.
Many Westerners in Afghanistan now feel like they could be targeted by the Taliban. Some French aid workers were kidnapped recently and are still being held, and intelligence briefings we've received seem to indicate the risk of kidnapping is greater than it's ever been before.
When we were here in September, many American soldiers told us they felt forgotten. So much money and manpower has gone into Iraq, and yet in Afghanistan, there have not been enough troops to beat back the Taliban and there are even reports of shortages of equipment. In September, we were embedded with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. They have had their tours extended, and most military planners expect an increase in violence in the coming weeks as the weather warms.
Over the last several months, I've received a lot of letters from the parents of soldiers serving here, and I promised many of them we would not forget about what their sons and daughters are doing in Afghanistan. So we've returned here, in part, to bring attention to this often overlooked war.
We've also come to shine a light on the drug trade here. Afghanistan now accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's supply of heroin. Most of the heroin found on America's streets comes through Mexico, but just about everywhere else, Afghan heroin is dominant. Last year, there was a bumper crop, and this year, it is expected to be even bigger.
The poppies that are farmed here and turned into heroin bring billions of dollars to drug traffickers, and all that money leads to corruption. The corruption is corrosive -- its tentacles reach into all echelons of government, experts say, and the democracy of Afghanistan is under real threat from it.
As you can see, there's a lot for us to cover this week, so I'm pleased to be joined here by CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen and CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson. I think you'll be surprised by what we've found so far. Peter interviewed a would-be suicide bomber two days ago, and Nic has filed a number of fascinating reports for us. We will focus on Afghanistan all week. I hope you watch.