London: Iran is reportedly paying bonuses of USD 1,000 to the Taliban for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan and USD 6,000 for destroying a US military vehicle.
According to The Times, at least five Iranian companies in Kabul are using their offices covertly to finance Taliban militants in provinces near the capital.
Afghan intelligence and Taliban sources have revealed that the firms, set up in the past six months, provide cash for a network of district Taliban treasurers to pay battlefield expenses and bonuses for killing the enemy and destroying their vehicles.
The Iranian companies reportedly take contracts to supply materials and logistics to Afghans involved in reconstruction, and the money often comes from foreign donors in form of aid. Profits are then transferred through poorly regulated Afghan banks, including Kabul Bank, which is partly owned by President Hamid Karzai’s brother Mahmood, to Tehran and Dubai, the paper reports.
From these countries, the money returns to Afghanistan through the informal Islamic banking system known as hawala to be dispersed to the Taliban.
"This means the companies involved in funding the insurgency can cover their tracks easily. It makes it harder for us to trace the cash flow," a senior Afghan intelligence official said.
Western officials believe the network might have been set up by the Al-Quds force, an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
First Published: Monday, September 06, 2010, 14:45