If the answer is yes, and there is currently an internal review at USAID and plans for congressional hearings by US Rep. Delahunt to find out, then that obviously means that we, Joe and Josephine Taxpayer, are funding the Taliban via an elaborate kickback/extortion scheme taking place right under US noses..
According to GlobalPost, whose August reporting got the investigative ball rolling, the Taliban's financial kickback machine is "highly formalized" to the point where "the Taliban actually keeps an office in Kabul to review major deals, determine percentages and conduct negotiations...."
Precise amounts are almost impossible to pin down, but it is, according to those knowledgeable of the process, a conservative estimate that the amount going to the Taliban is in the tens of millions of dollars a year. If the allegation that the Taliban takes 20 percent off big contracts is true, it is possible the Taliban is receiving as much money from the billions of dollars in assistance funds as it does from what traditionally has been its leading source of income: drugs.
Question of the day: Is the USA too dumb to live? We are not the only easy marks, as the article notes, but that's cold comfort.
As the largest international donor, the United States is the major source of such funding, but it is by no means the only one. In an upcoming article, Time magazine outlines similar types of pay-offs to the Taliban in Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, which is now experiencing a major increase in insurgent activity. The contracts belonged to GTZ, a German aid organization, but the procedures were very much the same as with USAID-funded projects.
With the practice so widespread, it is a wonder to many, including USAID’s own internal sources, how it has taken so long for it to come to light. The problem, say longtime observers, is partially the fortress in which USAID, the U.S. embassy and other international aid organizations live and work.
“[These people] really had very little idea of how Afghanistan operates,” said a USAID contractor who spent several weeks in Helmand province. “[They] could have as easily been working in an office in Washington as Lashkar Gah. Although some of them had been there for three years, they had had almost no contact with Afghans except for the cooks and cleaners. So, they have no ears to the ground.”
Read it all here.