Where does the Taliban get its money and weapons from?

Where does the Taliban get its money and weapons from?

Source: The independent

The Independent has looked into how the terror group is funded and who arms them

Afghanistan is once again in the grip of a crisis as the Taliban recaptured the capital city Kabul on Sunday after two decades of violent conflict.

The insurgents declared the country an “Islamic Emirate” as thousands tried to leave the city and president Ashraf Ghani swiftly abandoned the presidential palace and fled.

The Taliban were overthrown in 2001 but moved through the country swiftly gaining new territories in the last months as the final US troops withdrew.

Afghanistan is now effectively controlled by the Islamist group as they hold all of the major cities and most other parts of the country.

The Independent has looked into how the terror group is funded and who arms them:

How are they funded?

Afghanistan is the largest exporter of opium in the world and is the source of the majority of funding for the Islamist group.

Cesar Gudes, the head of the Kabul office of the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters: “The Taliban have counted on the Afghan opium trade as one of their main sources of income. More production brings drugs with a cheaper and more attractive price, and therefore a wider accessibility.”

The Taliban previously banned poppy growing in 2000, but were understood to have softened their stance considerably after a backlash from rural farmers.

Experts believe the group, along with public officials, have been involved in the drug trade for a substantial amount of time, but there is a dispute about how much money the group actually makes from drugs.

A confidential report compiled by NATO and later leaked to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, showed the group also get money from mining, real estate, and unnamed regional benefactors.

The report, written last year by journalist Lynne O’Donnell, warned: “Unless global action is taken, the Taliban will remain a hugely wealthy organisation, with a self-sustaining funding stream and outside support from regional countries.”

In the parts of the country they control the Taliban also implement a form of taxation, known as ‘ushr’. A UN report in September 2012 said this tax was a 10 per cent tax on harvest and a 2.5 percent tax on wealth.

Who arms them?

As the Taliban has moved through the country they have stolen weapons that were given to the army and police forces by the US.

Robert Crews, an expert on Afghanistan at Stanford University, told the Washington Post: “One of the first moves the Taliban has made in moving into new territory is to go to a government headquarters, arrest or kill those figures, open the prisons, and then go to the government bases and seize the weapons.”

The groups also has weapons and equipment donated by groups or states that are in some way sympathetic with their cause.

The US previously accused Russia of supporting and providing arms to the Taliban in 2018. In a BBC interview General John Nicholson claimed that guns were being smuggled over the border from neighbouring Tajikistan.

He said: “We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and [they] said, this was given by the Russians to the Taliban.” Russia and the Taliban both denied the US claims.

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