Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Probe: US funds end up in Taliban hands

Taliban militants in Afghanistan (file photo)

Source: Press TV

About USD 360 million of US taxpayer's money has ended up in the hands of Taliban and local criminals in Afghanistan, through US financed contracts awarded to Afghan companies.

The findings come after examining hundreds of combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, in an investigation by a special task force assembled by General David Petraeus which began last year.

Petraeus has recently relinquished command in Afghanistan to become Central Intelligent Agency (CIA) director.

American-led coalition has spent nearly a decade battling in Afghanistan, however the coalition had little visibility into the connections many Afghan companies and their vast network of subcontractors had with Taliban and local criminals.

In a process known as “reverse money laundering”, money was sent from US to businesses and individuals in Afghanistan who had ties to Taliban or criminal networks, through companies hired by the US military for transportation, construction, power projects, fuel and other services in the war troubled country, The Huffington Post reported.

US officials have requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation into the movement of US contract money in Afghanistan.

Overall, the USD 360 million represents a fraction of the USD 31 billion in active US contracts that the task force reviewed. But insurgents rely on crude weaponry and require little money to operate.

The US has reportedly spent over USD 1 trillion in taxpayer money on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Some experts estimate indirect costs such as interest on the additional debt will exceed the direct costs.

The 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan was launched with the official objective of curbing militancy and bringing peace and stability to the country.

The security situation remains fragile in Afghanistan despite the presence of 150,000 US-led foreign forces in the country.

The escalating human cost of the war is putting a great deal of pressure on NATO member states to withdraw their troops.

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