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Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

CBS News
September 5, 2009

The Taliban may be on the unofficial payroll of the United States government.

A portion of American taxpayer dollars slated for development projects in Afghanistan is alleged to end up in the hands of the Taliban, the GlobalPost reports. The United States Agency for International Development is investigating if its funds are being used by contractors to pay the Taliban for protection – from itself.

Payoffs to the Taliban are a widely known practice in Afghanistan, according to a report by GlobalPost last month. When the money is not paid, they wreak havoc in the area, blowing up bridges, kidnapping contractors and bringing projects to a halt.

GlobalPost reporter Jean MacKenzie writes, “the Taliban allegedly receives kickbacks from almost every major contract that comes into the country. The arrangements are at times highly formalized and, as GlobalPost spelled out, the Taliban actually keeps an office in Kabul to review major deals, determine percentages and conduct negotiations. The arrangements are often more personal, as when a local supplier pays off a small-time Taliban commander to allow free passage of goods through his patch of insurgency-controlled terrain.” [Source]

One source told the GlobalPost that the Taliban takes as much as 20% of development aid awarded to contractors. An embassy worker in Kabul described the arrangement as “organized crime.”

Dona Dinkler, the chief of staff for congressional affairs at USAID’s Office of Inspector General in Washington, D.C. , told the GlobalPost that the allegations are a cause for concern, but added a note of caution.

“It’s a real hard thing to prove. Who is going to survive to testify about that? That is our challenge. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We want to get to the bottom of it,” Dinkler said.

USAID has only one inspector and two auditors in Afghanistan following the billions of dollars in aid money that the United States provides.

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