The change in tactics under the Trump Administration of conducting airstrikes on the Taliban’s narcotics processing labs is having an adverse effect on the group’s ability to finance their insurgency in southern Afghanistan and they’re having to find new ways to raise money, including checkpoints on highways, extortion, kidnapping, and smuggling.
Taliban officials say they have established a new customs house in the Delaram district of southern Nimruz province in the southwestern part of Afghanistan. The new effort to collect revenue follows joint Afghan-Coalition airstrikes on Taliban narcotics processing labs in the Helmand province last November. The U.S-led coalition says such attacks will continue.
A Taliban statement says it will begin collecting a transit tax in the southern Nimruz and southwestern Farah provinces on Jan. 13.
Desperate to finance their insurgency, the Taliban has been using many illegal ways of making money, including kidnapping and extortion, and smuggling drugs, minerals and precious stones, according to Afghan officials.
“They tax the transiting commercial vehicles and finance their insurgency in the southern Helmand and Farah provinces through this money,” said Gul Bahar Mujahid, police chief of Farah province.
“[The Taliban] has repeatedly engaged in extortion and looting in the route of the Delaram and Khashrwod districts, and we are using military force to prevent their vicious actions,” said Khwaja Jelani Abu Bakr, police chief of Nimruz.
US officials claim that the Taliban receive about 60 percent of their income to conduct their insurgency from the drug trade and the airstrikes on their drug processing labs are hitting home.
Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Nicholson says the interdiction operations are working, targeting the 400-500 drug processing labs. “We’re hitting the Taliban where it hurts, which is their finances,” he said.
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