Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan Gets $80 Million Cash Infusion Every Two Weeks, Watchdog Says

Mounting evidence Taliban benefits from aid dollars

November 1, 2023

The United States and other international donors pump around $80 million in aid to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan every two weeks, in the face of mounting evidence that the terror group steals this cash through fraudulent nonprofits and other means, according to a government watchdog.

The United Nations sends "cash shipments" to Afghanistan every 10 to 14 days, money that is supposed to be shielded from the Taliban, according to the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Biden administration has allocated more than $2.5 billion for humanitarian projects in Afghanistan since its 2020 evacuation from the country, and international donors provided billions more for the country.

While the State Department has provided assurances this aid is not enriching the Taliban, SIGAR reports that the terror group's "interference into UN and NGO activities has continued to rise throughout 2023." This interference includes arresting aid workers and demanding that "sensitive data" about various projects be turned over to Taliban officials. The terror group also "indirectly benefit[s] from U.S. education funding through the establishment of fraudulent NGOs to receive donor assistance, and by infiltrating and extorting existing Afghan NGOs delivering educational assistance," according to SIGAR's summary of its report.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which remains active in the war-torn country, also said that "agency-funded projects were affected by Taliban interference" in recent months, according to the SIGAR report. But the Taliban's meddling in international aid projects has not stopped the United States and other Western nations from pumping money into Afghanistan, generating concerns the terror group is enriching itself while the nation starves.

USAID reported that "some of their partner staff members had been detained this quarter by local Taliban authorities because of the staff members' efforts to prevent the diversion of aid to non-eligible individuals," according to SIGAR.

Programs also have been hindered by the Taliban's insistence that women not be placed in a supervisory role, or any other prominent position. International charities reported throughout the year on Taliban efforts to siphon aid, bolstering SIGAR's most recent findings and posing a challenge for American aid efforts.

Amid these concerns, a U.N.-shipment of cash arrives in the country every couple of weeks and "is placed in designated UN accounts in a private bank" that the U.N. agency claims cannot be touched by the Taliban. From December 2021 to July 2023, the United Nations transferred $2.9 billion for "humanitarian operations."

In the two years since the Biden administration pulled U.S. forces from the country, "the Taliban have shaped governing institutions to serve their aims and cement power," according to SIGAR. The terror group remains "firmly in control of the country," according to a U.N. assessment, "and continued to implement what they consider their 'Islamic system.'"

The Biden administration maintains talks with the terror group that could result in U.S. recognition of the government. These talks continued in July of this year, when senior U.S. officials traveled to Qatar "to engage with the Taliban on issues of mutual interest," SIGAR reported.

The U.S. military also coordinates anti-terrorism operations with the Taliban, mainly those targeting ISIS.

"A U.S. intelligence official reportedly said the United States is sharing counterterrorism information with the Taliban, but not 'actionable intelligence,' or targeting data," according to SIGAR.

While international aid can make a positive difference in the world, sending cash like this all but guarantees it will be diverted to the Taliban," said Darrell Issa (R.,Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. " This theft is a predictable outcome of bad policy and a legacy of the Biden Administration’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan."