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2011: Taliban revenue victories

January 6, 2012

Financially speaking, 2011 was another banner year for the Taliban.

France paid perhaps the largest ransom in world history when it handed $15 to $20 million over to the Taliban to release two abducted journalists in June.

Meanwhile, American leaders like Gen. David Petraeus and Sec. Hillary Clinton continued endorsing a program to pay members of the Taliban if they would “reintegrate” with… somebody… other than the Taliban… we hope.

And we learned more than we cared to know about U.S., UN, and British aid and reconstruction money ending up in the hands of the Taliban through insufficient oversight of subcontracting processes, Afghani corruption, and possibly, local political bet hedging.

The Kajaki Dam, a joint U.S.-Afghan project, became known as a “watershed of waste” for whom the Taliban will become the ultimate beneficiary.

It was reported in June that $1 billion has “disappeared” from Kabul Bank.  While the Afghan government itself is responsible for the graft within the bank, one doubts the wisdom of international financing and loans that have flowed to Afghanistan over recent years.

At the same time, the Taliban can continue receiving funding from Islamic taxation of the people in the territories it controls, and can tap into financial resources from Pakistan’s spy service and the Haqqani network.

While the U.S. and international partners have been somewhat successful in limiting the financial pipelines of Al Qaeda, no evidence suggests that the same can be said for the Taliban.

International aid to Gaza that invariably funds Hamas is highly irrational and even suicidal.  The only relationship that resembles it is the West’s relationship with the Taliban—an organization that we actually hand money to through subcontracts and ransom payments.  Meanwhile, we pat ourselves on the backs for declaring that we have “frozen” the bank accounts of men like Mullah Omar, who literally keep their money in a treasure chest, and for creating some little office of financial analysts in Kabul to watch for “suspicious transactions”.

If we were serious about bankrupting the Taliban, we would hunt them down and kill them one by one rather than paying them to pretend to tolerate our presence for a brief period of time.

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