The Taliban in Afghanistan run crafty financial networks to fund their operations, raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the drug trade, kidnappings, extortion and foreign donations that Americans are having problems shutting down. In Afghanistan they tax the cultivation, processing and shipment of opium, as well as other more normal crops. Taliban fundraisers also target various Arab countries. Proceeds from drugs may be as much as $400 million a year. By diversifying income streams the Taliban frustrate efforts to weaken it by starving it financially. The Taliban’s ability to raise funds complicates debate about increasing US troops. Would more Marines in Helmand (where opium is king) and their efforts to stop the opium flow cut the cash or anger local farmers dependent on it? But even if the cash is gone, will it help? A tribal fighter only costs about $200-$500 a month. “Their operations are so inexpensive they can be continued indefinitely even with locally generated resources,” said Congressional research service analyst Ken Katzman. Obama’s Afghan/Pakistan special envoy Richard Holbrooke adds, there was “a feeling that the money all came from drugs in Afghanistan. That is simply not true.”
Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children is the title of a dark cabaret album by 'Voltaire'