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KABUL – In an effort to attract new funding sources, the Taliban recently published a statement on jihadi websites asking Islamic countries for financial aid.
Afghan analysts said the move is another indicator of the militant group’s deep financial troubles.
“The Taliban are facing financial troubles for various reasons, and this can result in their weakening and deterioration,” said Farough Bashar, a political science professor at Kabul University.
Funding sources dry up
The Taliban traditionally have generated funding through several sources: drug trafficking, collection of “tariffs” from farmers, and donor contributions from Arab countries and Pakistan.
While there is some disagreement over which source is the most important – some analysts say donations from abroad make up the largest part, while Afghan officials point to drug trafficking – all three seem to be drying up.
Firstly, after the death of Osama bin Laden last May, al-Qaeda stopped funding the Afghan Taliban in large part, Bashar said, so international donations may have fallen off.
Secondly, he said, the Taliban are no longer able to collect taxes from farmers, after they lost their control over Afghanistan’s agricultural lands.
And thirdly, many of their illegal drug shipments are now being confiscated by Afghan security forces and interdicted in neighbouring countries, with a decline in revenue from that avenue.
These components of the war on terror have combined to lead to an apparent deterioration in the group’s funds, Bashar said.
International pressure, anti-Taliban sentiment prevail, too
But these are not the only factors, other analysts said, offering other theories.
“Some circles in Pakistan, as well as in Gulf countries who were the main supporters of Taliban have stopped providing aids to this group, due to (international) pressure,” said Sayeed Agha Hossein Fazel Sangcharaki, spokesman for the National Front of Afghanistan, an Afghan opposition group.
Sangcharaki said he believes this is the main reason that one-time supporters have stopped making donations and forced the Taliban to turn to Islamic societies for help.
Also, public sentiment is against the Taliban for their violent attacks against society and use of explosives that kill civilians.
Actions such as exploiting children in suicide attacks and murdering children and women do not have any Islamic, humane, or religious justification, said Nouralhagh Oloumi, a former Afghan army general.
“The acts of the Taliban are both un-Islamic and inhumane, and Islamic societies should not give a positive response to this group. Instead, they have to unanimously condemn the actions of this group,” Oloumi said.
Public opinion wanes
The public has its own observations about why militant funding is harder to come by, attributing it in part to the success of the war on terror and in part to Taliban atrocities.
Al-Qaeda traditionally has sent its leaders to Arab countries, where they showed fabricated films about the murders of Muslims in Afghanistan to elicit sympathy and financial support, said Wahidullah, a Kabul resident.
But many militant leaders have died, either in battles or due to natural causes, and no one else in the group has stepped up to continue the false propaganda campaign to collect money.
“All the Muslims of the world, especially those living in Arab countries, should be aware that the Taliban are not defending Islam, are killing Afghan Muslims and are distorting the image of Muslims,” Wahid said, adding that Muslims should stop supporting this group.
And Sefatullah, a resident of Helmand Province, said the loss of lives of innocent people, including women and children, is another cause for the loss of public support.
Previously, Sefat said, he witnessed people providing help to the Taliban, both financially and morally.
“However, as a result of the public awareness increase, people are now realising that supporting the practices of this group – which contradict the teachings of Islam – hurts their own self-interests, and therefore they no longer support this group,” Sefat added.