Taliban’s funding: extortion, ransom and “business license”

Not only drugs then:

The Taliban are acting like a broad network of criminal gangs that enables them to utilize different sources of income,” says Ahmad Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission…

.Jan, 72, with closely cropped hair, a thick white beard and a string of amber prayer beads, claims he was targeted in retaliation for not paying off the Taliban, even though the provincial governor and district governor say he did. Not that Jan would have refused — he says the Taliban never asked. “If the Taliban had asked for $100,000, I would have gladly paid them,” says Jan. “This equipment was worth $230,000.” What probably happened, says Abdul Wahid Omerkhil, district governor of Char Dara, where the attack took place, is that Jan paid off the wrong people. “It usually happens like that. You pay one group and you don’t pay the other, and they will burn you.”

…The arrival of Mullah Salam, the Taliban governor, coincided with the return of a local man, Shirin Agha, who had fled to Pakistan after he got into a gunfight at a wedding. While the commanders work independently, they share common tactics, demanding usher, kidnapping for ransom and taking cuts of construction projects. Sitting in the dilapidated foyer of his mansion, Mohammed Omer, the provincial governor of Kunduz, marvels at the scale of the two Taliban leaders’ rackets. By his estimate, Salam and Agha amassed at least $100,000 in a month through kidnappings for ransom and protection payments from contractors, who in turn had been paid by international donors.

…It’s not just the big foreign-aid projects that get hit. Local businesses are victims too. In Kandahar, says a businessman who asked for anonymity out of fear of Taliban retribution, even the smallest shops pay a “business license” to the Taliban.

…That analysis is confirmed by Sargon Heinrich, a Kabul-based U.S. businessman in construction and service industries. Heinrich says some 16% of his gross revenue goes to “facilitation fees,” mostly to protect shipments of valuable equipment coming from the border. “That is all revenue that will ultimately be shared by the Taliban.” As an American, Heinrich is troubled by the implication that he may be funding the insurgency. “All of this could be seen as material support for enemy forces,” he muses.

…Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan’s Minister of the Interior, says increased financing, particularly through extortion, is emboldening the enemy and admits that part of the fault lies with his government. “Yes, I blame [contractors and construction companies] for the fact that they are paying these insurgents, but at the same time, I sympathize with them because they are not doing it out of their own accord but because they are forced to. It is our responsibility as the government of Afghanistan and the international community to provide a secure environment for them to work. And so far, we have not been able to do so.”

Karzai’s links with Afghan Drug Warlords.


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