Contractors Accused of Paying Protection Money to Afghan Insurgents

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The war in Afghanistan is indeed a costly one, due not only to the expense of fighting the Taliban—but also paying them off so they don’t attack American supply convoys. This revelation was discovered by The Nation in its investigation of Afghan contractors hired by the Defense Department to help move supplies throughout the country for American soldiers. Approximately 10% of the Pentagon’s logistics budget for the war, representing hundreds of millions of dollars, has been spent on bribes to the Taliban.

One of the biggest protectors of U.S. supplies is run by the Popal brothers, cousins of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Ahmad Rateb and Rashid Popal own the Watan Group, which operates telecommunications, logistics and security businesses, including helping guard American military trucks traveling the country’s rural roads. The Popals’ operation does this using guns and payoffs, and in the process provides the Taliban with “a big part of their income,” an Afghan government security official told The Nation.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
How the US Funds the Taliban (by Aram Roston, The Nation)


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