Taliban Is Paid to Protect US Supply Convoys
US military funding Taliban through contractors
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 2:40 AM CST
Updated Nov 12, 2009 5:20 AM CST
Burned trucks are seen smoldering after Taliban militants attacked the vehicles on the main Ghazni-Kandahar highway in Ghazni, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, last month.   (AP Photo/Rahmatullah Naikzad)
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(Newser) – The Taliban is getting a big chunk of its financing by protecting supply convoys to the American military. Security contractors paid by the US to bring supplies into Afghanistan pay huge amounts of protection money to warlords and insurgents, an investigation by the Nation has discovered. Pentagon officials are aware of the situation and estimate that at least 10% of the hundreds of millions paid to contractors ends up in Taliban hands.

In some areas, the Taliban sends escort vehicles to protect US supply convoys from other insurgents, according to officials. Paying protection money is simply the only way to get the necessary supplies through some regions, say industry insiders. "If you tell me not to pay these insurgents, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially," said one American executive. One company has tried to avoid paying off warlords, and has suffered constant attacks and huge numbers of casualties, say observers.