More from Douglas Wissing on the Taliban’s funding. His account of what a Kabul financial intelligence office analyst told him corresponds very closely to what Money Jihad has explained over the years about how broad-based and diverse the Taliban’s revenue streams are.
This comes from an interview Wissing did with Time Magazine’s “Battleland Blog” last month:
…[Battleland]: What share of the Taliban’s money do you estimate comes from illicit drugs? From the U.S. government?
[Wissing] I spent time in Afghanistan and in Washington trying to track that number down. One day at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, an American official serving in the Afghan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC) talked to me. The ATFC is comprised of about 30 specialists on loan from the Department of Drug Enforcement, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense’s CENTCOM, the CIA, and the FBI, who try to identify and disrupt sources Taliban funding. They are the experts.
The official told me that U.S. government officials estimated the insurgents’ annual budget to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. “Is it $1 billion? $500 million? The total amount is a tail people are going to chase until the end of time,” he told me. “We know they are raising substantial amounts of money; they can finance their operations. If you take away the Gulf money, they can make it up. If you take away the narco money, they can make it up. It’s like punching Jello.”
The official confirmed the U.S. and civilian reports that the insurgents used extortion of U.S. development and logistics contracts for their funding. He cited logistics-convoy security shakedowns, construction-protection rackets, Taliban “taxes” on corrupt officials, payoffs from international NGOs and major Afghan businesses—such as cell phones, utilities, and banks—as well as skims from poorly overseen Afghan government projects of the National Solidarity Program.
Citing the flood of American development and logistics money pouring into Afghanistan, the official said, “The more money that comes in here, the more opportunities, and then there’s a lot more exploitation, more corruption. And there’s a lot more money coming in here”…