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Taleban changing from religious group to criminal enterprise

Published on Jun 14, 2014 7:11 AM

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - The Taleban's reliance on extortion and kidnappings, along with narcotics and illegal mining operations, is transforming it from a group driven by religious ideology into a criminal enterprise hungry for profit, UN sanctions monitors said in a new report.

The latest annual report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team on the Taleban was distributed to reporters on Friday, a day before Afghans vote in a run-off presidential election. "In addition to voluntary or forced donations from Afghan businesses outside the country as well as voluntary donations motivated by religious or ideological convictions, the Taleban have established a fairly sophisticated system to generate resources inside the country," the report said. "Increasingly Taleban finances also rely on abductions of wealthy businessmen for ransom." The report said executing civilians and aid workers helps the Taleban reassert their power, block security improvements and prevent economic development 13 years after it was ousted from power by a US invasion. It also creates new funding sources for the Taleban, hardline Islamists bent on toppling the Afghan government. "However, these activities increasingly change the character of parts of the movement from a group based on religiously couched ideology to a coalition of increasingly criminalized networks, guided by the profit motive," the monitors said.

Taleban revenue generation is uneven. In provinces such as Nimroz and Kandahar, the Taleban are financially self-sustaining, while others depend on payments from the central leadership.

In Kandahar, the Taleban raise US$7 million to US$8 million a month from narcotics, extortion and mining, the report said.

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