Algerian police that patrol the southern border are encountering more and more al Qaeda gunmen escorting drug smugglers. There were four such encounters in 2008, and fifteen last year. The most valuable of the smuggled drugs is Colombian cocaine, which is flown into West Africa, and then moved north to Europe and the Persian Gulf (two of the biggest markets). Al Qaeda has been detected working with the Colombian drug cartels to handle movement of the drugs from West African airports to North African ports (where local smuggling groups move the drugs into Europe.)
Apparently al Qaeda has learned from the Taliban, which earns huge amounts partnering with drug gangs that produce most of the world's supply of opium and heroin. While both the Taliban and al Qaeda officially condemn these drugs, they don't mind handling the supply chain, and even passing them out to their fighters to keep them in the right mood for dangerous operations. Terrorist leaders justify the drug involvement with the "we are using drugs to destroy our enemies" angle. While there is some truth to that, millions of Moslems also become addicts. This does not help the Islamic terror groups in Moslem countries, where these drugs are as destructive as they are in the West.
Terrorist groups in general have always worked with common criminals in order to raise money, and obtain weapons and other gear. Usually, the terrorists stuck to low profile scams like fraud (credit card, mortgage) and smuggling. Drugs were always considered more profitable, but higher risk and bad for the image. In these desperate times, caution is something the terrorists cannot afford. Either they raise money to keep themselves together as an organization, or simply dissolve. This led to greater use of kidnapping and grand larceny, as well as buying, selling and transporting drugs.
This is part of the ancient progression, where revolutionary groups devolve into criminal gangs, and the original altruistic goals just fade away to window dressing. This makes it easier for Moslem countries to go after Islamic radicals, who used to have lots of popular supports (because of promises to overthrow corrupt governments and punish the West, etc). Seeing the righteous Islamic radicals pushing dope puts the Holy Warriors in the same category as common thugs, and makes your average Moslem willing to work with the cops. Saudi Arabia has taken advantage of that by organizing cooperation among Moslem nations to track down and put these Islamic radical criminal operations out of business.