Check Taliban funding

Aditya Rangroo
Taliban insurgency has managed to inject their sinister ideology deep into the social fabric of Afghanistan over the decades and has successfully altered many aspects interlinked with socio-economy of the country. We understand that any insurgency can not survive merely on ideology, and therefore large-scale manpower and massive funds are required in order to facilitate it.
On the other side, nation building in Afghanistan, which is a war-ravaged country now, has received substantial humanitarian and economic aid from world powers over the years, but a collateral damage of these aid is also on upswing that has turned into a hydra headed monster. A huge portion from these monetary aids has been falling prey to Taliban. In this backdrop, the US with its long history of providing military aid to both government and insurgents during armed conflicts abroad, has spent trillion of dollars for training of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001.
However, much growing concern, over the years has turned into misuse of arms and funds provided by the US to ANSF, where it is believed to have stocking up in the hands of Taliban. Taliban, with truckloads of American weapons in their stockpile, is gaining strength and posing threat to democratization and nation-building in various parts of Afghanistan. Province such as Kapisa among many others has seen an upsurge in open insurgency, leading to driving away of security forces. Security forces in Tagab district experience frequent gun battle with Taliban and recently in January, insurgents also blocked the valley in Alasay district, situated in northeast of Kabul, prompting hundreds of locals and 45 policemen to flee.
Furthermore, there are reports doing the rounds that Jalalabad, which is in the east of Kabul, has witnessed active dominance by Taliban. Now, it is no wonder that without large-scale armaments Taliban could not have succeeded in taking over these provinces. An investigation report in 2009 into the dead body of Taliban fighter in Kunar province of Afghanistan confirmed that the 17 contained cartridges and 30 rifle magazines found on the insurgent’s corpse were identical to those US armaments that were supplied to ANSF.
A Government watchdog Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has suggested that US Department of Defense (DOD) has provided more than 747,000 arsenals and auxiliary equipment worth $626 million to the ANSF since 2004. Among these arsenals there are at least 465,000 small arms including rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, and shotguns. It is, however, disappointing and surprising that US along with Afghan Government has displayed a laid back approach in keeping a track of supplied armaments. As pointed out by ex- CIA counterterrorism expert Aki Peritz that anytime you infuse tons of armaments into an impecunious region, they are certainly to go missing. He said, “It’s like telling someone in US, here is a USD $30,000 thing and if you lose it, we will give you another one”. According to SIGAR, the US is providing Afghanistan with too many armaments. It calculates that the Afghan security forces have an excess of over 80,000 AK-47s, 5,800 grenade launchers, and 2,500 Russian PKM machine guns. Lack of accountability on part of the US and Afghan military forces a major reason behind armaments going missing. This is an alarming situation not only to the Afghan Government, but to the world community who is trying to stabilize the fragile region.
Although we are aware that during 70s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US provided Mujahideen with Soviet armaments from an Israeli stockpile, but later when Mujahideen turned into insurgent Taliban, they took over control of weapons like AK47s and RPGs. Another major factor is widespread corruption in ANSF and Afghan police that has been instrumental in thriving the illegal supplying of weapons to Taliban. The corruption among police became more evident when recently Mullah Mujahid, a Taliban chief in Kunduz Province was arrested. Following his arrest, an MP from Kunduz Abdul Wadud Paiman revealed that Mullah Mujahid has confessed during an interrogation that how local police sells arms to Taliban in return for money and even sometimes tip them off about any impending police or army operations.
Such accounts portend to an underlying motive of Taliban to gain a greater political stronghold irrespective of the fact that it will exacerbate the mass brutality for civilians. With stockpile of heavy armaments, Taliban surely poses a threat to civil authorities in the region and enhance their military strength. Moreover, after the withdrawal of large-scale US and NATO forces from the Afghanistan last year, Taliban, in a bid to resurrect themselves, may try to further organize their plan with utmost precision. On the sideline, a serious threat is looming around South Asia if the alleged corruptions are not dealt deftly by the coalition Government in Afghanistan.
The other source which is giving an impetus in the expansion of military strength of Taliban is illegal drug money obtained from smuggling opium. Being the largest opium producer in the world, Afghanistan has become the epicenter in Asia for contraband drugs. Taliban buys huge quantities of poppies from Afghan farmers, and converts it into opium and heroin and smuggles it to the western market. There is a thriving shadow economy running parallel to the national economy that is based on purely raising monetary support to up the illegal weapon purchasing.
Aside the internal factors supporting Taliban expansion are also the external support provided to Taliban. Few Taliban leaders have reportedly claimed that Britain is their greatest source of revenue and they receive funds from Muslim brothers in Britain to wage a jihad. These allegations are serious and require deft investigation from both the Afghan and the British Government to prevent further problems.
Such accounts highlight the failure of the US to track its weapons deliveries or even to push for a clause in the defence armament agreement that makes a mandatory protocol for the Afghan government to keep record about their storage and use within Afghanistan. Since many weapons have numbers, at the very least more effort should be made to track them and identify the sources that originally had them. However, the question remains unanswered that why US continues to supply weapons to Afghanistan despite knowing that Taliban has a growing stock of these sophisticated weaponry?
US has not come clean over its policy on weapons supply to Afghanistan and with the recent release of Taliban armaments trafficker and drug smuggler Mohammed Zahir from Guantanamo jail by Obama Government cast doubts. It is also alleged that Zahir had Stringer missiles and uranium at his home in Afghanistan before his arrest.
The resultant loss is largely for the local civilian population who are often the collateral damage between the exploits of ANSF and Taliban insurgents. They are also forced to abandon other agro products that can support their livelihood in the national economy and instead are forced to engage in illegal activity. Similar kind of illegal organized network of drugs and weaponry runs across the Latin American nations where Mexico serves as the conduit for the illegal activity where also the US weapon smuggling is involved. It is intriguing how the US’s negligence not only continues there in US-Mexico border much before the 9/11 era began and no such lessons have been learnt to prevent similar situation in Afghanistan case.
Is it because stabilization of Afghanistan is not in the interest of the US’s or the Afghan Government is too incapable to win trust of its national security force?
Illegality of the situation also calls for auditing those agreements with other countries that also provide weapon and monetary aid to the Afghan Government. If no deft intervention is taken by the Afghan Government or by the donor countries, South Asia and Central Asia region will in all likelihood also suffer like an open wound.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here