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'Useful fiction': Inspector general says $2.5B in US taxpayer aid to Afghanistan likely benefiting the Taliban
Photo by Nava Jamshidi/Getty Images

'Useful fiction': Inspector general says $2.5B in US taxpayer aid to Afghanistan likely benefiting the Taliban

American taxpayers have provided $2.5 billion in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan without the U.S. government knowing where that money is going, according to government officials.

The special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, reportedly told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that cooperation from the Biden administration and its State Department has been minimal. According to the Epoch Times, the Biden government has resisted efforts by the inspector to pin down where the foreign aid has gone.

"The State Department has basically obfuscated, delayed reports ... ordered their employees not to talk to us," Sopko said. "We’ve gone out of our way to work with them but we're still not getting cooperation."

Sopko stated point-blank that "we do not know, period" how the humanitarian aid is being used. He also alleged that information from multiple sources — including the U.S. Agency for International Development — has indicated that the "Taliban is diverting or otherwise benefiting" from the aid — not the intended beneficiaries.

Inspector Sopko also noted that specifically, the State Department's Thomas West has ignored "countless entreaties to meet" to "share information, learn what's going on and what their issues are so we can try to help them."

Thomas' official title is Special Representative for Afghanistan and Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

"Many would like to believe we are aiding Afghan people while successfully bypassing the Taliban. This can be viewed as a useful fiction, as it ignores the fact that it’s impossible to entirely bypass the Taliban regime," Sopko continued.

Non-government organizations have all reported widespread misappropriation of funds by the Taliban, the inspector explained. He also noted that the Taliban "pressures the U.N. and other NGOs to issue contracts to Taliban-affiliated companies, to partner with Taliban-affiliated NGOs, and to not partner with other NGOs."

"Our research confirms those who control the guns control the aid," he added.

The Taliban was recently pictured celebrating the second anniversary of the United States' botched withdrawal in 2021 with crowds lining the streets and militants on vehicles showing off guns and flags.

Additionally, Taliban soldiers were shown in November 2023 videos patrolling the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, on rollerblades. Soldiers were riding alongside Ford pickup trucks converted into what are typically referred to as a technical, or a non-standard tactical vehicle.

"There are no good answers," Inspector General Sopko concluded about the situation. "There are no good alternatives when providing humanitarian assistance in an environment like Afghanistan, only trade-offs."

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