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Five Iranian companies in Afghanistan are paying Taliban militants over $200 per month with bonuses of $1,000 for killing an American soldier and $6,000 for destroying a U.S. military vehicle. The ideological differences and past tension between Iran and the Taliban have not stopped them from allying against a common enemy, allowing the Iranian regime to help kill American soldiers with little consequence.
Most shockingly, the Iranian companies fund the Taliban using foreign aid. They win construction contracts and then place the money in corrupt Afghan banks, including one that is tied to President Karzai’s brother. The money then leaves Afghanistan for Tehran and Dubai and comes into the Taliban’s hands through the unregulated hawala networks. The Iranian financing is so large that one Taliban money-handler claims he alone has collected nearly $80,000 in the past six months. Iran’s bounties may not be a new development, as a U.S. government document released by WikiLeaks reported that Iran had a bounty of $1,740 for the death of every Afghan soldier and $3,841 for the death of every Afghan official in February 2005.
Pakistan’s offensives in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan have made the Taliban more reliant upon Iran for support. One “senior insurgent in Kunduz” told a British newspaper that “day by day the Iranian border becomes more important for us, especially now in Pakistan there are many problems for the Taliban.” Another commander admitted that they were working with the Iranians, saying “Our religions and our histories are different but our target is the same. We both want to kill Americans.”
Taliban commanders have also confirmed that Iran is running a training program for them. The Iranians pay for hundreds of Taliban fighters to make a wintertime trip to Iran’s camps in Zahedan, a location known to also be a safe haven for Al-Qaeda. For the first month, they learn how to attack convoys and escape capture. In the second, they are taught on how to do maximum damage with improvised explosive devices and in the third and final month, they are instructed on attacking military outposts. The State Department says that the Iranians have been training the Taliban since at least 2006.
In March, it was reported that over 10 tons of weapons had been seized coming into Afghanistan from Iran over the previous year. Iranian arms caches of RPGs, explosively-formed projectiles, C4 explosives, surface-to-air missiles, and all sorts of other weapons continue to be discovered throughout the country, much of which has the words “Made in Iran” brazenly imprinted on them. Some have argued that the Iranian weapons come from the black market and are not shipped on orders of the regime. Afghan intelligence estimates that 60 percent of the weapons it has seized from Iran are supplied directly by the government, putting that notion to rest. The real percentage is likely higher as the Iranians can use the black market to disguise their activity.
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