WHAT: Like the modern Mafia, the Taliban has been building a financial colossus by raking in revenue from a host of different ventures that mix rackets with semilegitimate business ventures — foreign donations, drug production, “protection” extortion, smuggling and kidnapping. Official assessments to the U.S. Congress say the Taliban is generating up to a half-billion dollars in annual revenue.
WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA: That massive war chest easily finances the Taliban’s relatively cheap insurgency. The cash buys “a lot” of rifles, explosives, grenade launchers and foot soldiers known as “$10 Taliban” since that’s their daily pay. The Taliban offers incentive bonuses — double or triple pay — for planting improvised explosive devices.
WHY IT’S HARD TO STOP: The Taliban’s revenue stream is so difficult to interrupt because even within the drug trade and other protection “taxes,” it flows in from multiple sources.