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Taliban's annual funding at scale 'hundreds of millions of dollars'
09-28-2009, 11:13 AM
Post: #1
Taliban's annual funding at scale 'hundreds of millions of dollars'
* US officials say foreign donations largest source of cash for Taliban * Military estimates Taliban collect $70 million from drug traffickers every year

Daily Times Monitor

WASHINGTON: The Taliban-led insurgency is now understood to generate funds from a huge and diverse array of crimes, donations and taxes, the Washington Post has reported. The paper has quoted US and Afghan officials as saying it may be impossible to dry up the funds.

US officials say the single largest source of cash for the Taliban is not drugs but foreign donations. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently estimated that Taliban leaders and their allies received $106 million last year from donors outside Afghanistan.

For a decade now, the US Treasury and the UN Security Council have maintained financial blacklists of suspected donors to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The UN requires all members to freeze the assets of designated Taliban officials and their supporters.

Both blacklists were greatly expanded after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Since 2005, however, only a handful have been added to the lists.

Some American and Afghan officials said the US government paid less attention to Taliban donors after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Richard Barrett, coordinator of the United Nations’ Taliban and Al Qaeda Monitoring Team, says Taliban sympathisers are much more skilful today at ensuring that the money cannot be traced back to them.

In July, US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said the Taliban were getting the bulk of their funds from the Persian Gulf. Other US officials have noted that the Taliban received substantial financial help from Gulf countries during the 1990s.

In an August 30 report assessing the state of the war, General Stanley McChrystal – the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan – said the Taliban’s range of financial resources made it difficult to weaken the movement. Annual revenue is thought to be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Drug money: Money skimmed from the narcotics business still offers crucial support to Taliban operations, particularly in the southern provinces. The US military has estimated that the Taliban collect $70 million annually from poppy farmers and narcotics traffickers.

Many insurgent leaders now collect a ‘tax’ or take a cut from gemstone, timber or antiquity smugglers. Then there are ransoms from kidnappings.

Another source of revenue are ‘protection’ payments by Afghan and Western subcontractors.

The US government has now created a special investigative unit called the Afghan Threat Finance Cell that gathers financial information about the Taliban. The cell has about two-dozen members drawn from the Drug Enforcement Administration, US Central Command, the Treasury Department and the CIA. The FBI is expected to join soon.

Most money transfers in Afghanistan are made under the ‘hawala’ system. Brokers in seven provinces are now registered with the government and are required to report all transactions to the central bank.

The Taliban also move large amounts of cash via human couriers, US officials say. In Washington, the US government has recently established a group to devise an overall strategy for restricting the flow of money to the Taliban. The Illicit Finance Task Force is directed by the US Treasury.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp...2009_pg1_7
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