Narcotics remains a primary source of Taliban income

KABUL (Tolo News): A US watchdog in a report released last month says that 40 to 60 percent of the Taliban’s revenue comes from narcotics. The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its report cites a meeting with Resolute Support officials in February 2018, saying that “a senior official from the Resolute Support Counter Threat Finance Cell estimated that between 40 to 60 percent of the Taliban’s revenue comes from narcotics trafficking.”

SIGAR also quoted a UN report as saying that Afghan officials estimate Taliban income from narcotics between June 2018 and June 2019 to be approximately $400 million. According to SIGAR, the UN report also notes that the Taliban now controls all aspects of narcotics production, which likely indicates that their total revenues are even higher.

SIGAR quotes a UN Security Council report from June 2019 as saying that the Taliban continue to adapt and expand their ability to maintain and generate financial revenues to support their operations. The primary sources of income for the Taliban remain narcotics, illicit mineral and other resource extraction, taxation, extortion, the sale of commercial and government services and property, and donations from abroad, SIGAR says.

The Taliban rejected their involvement in the drugs and narcotics trade, but Afghan officials said the group has been involved in the illicit business. The watchdog says that Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium and the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin. Since 2001, the United States has allocated more than $8 billion to fight opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan, the report says.

Quoting US Department of Defense officials, the report says that a small portion of the overall US counter-narcotics funding has gone to counter threat finance (CTF) efforts directed at the Afghan terrorist narcotics trade.