Millions of dollars in American taxpayer funds intended for an Afghan transportation contract to promote local businesses were steered to the enemy Taliban, according to a military investigation cited in Monday’s Washington Post.
The aid, part of a $2.16 billion trucking contract for eight firms operating in war-torn Afghanistan, provides “seemingly definitive evidence” that U.S. funds are being directed to the nation’s enemies, according to the Post.
For four of the eight contractors there is “documented, credible evidence … of involvement in a criminal enterprise or support for the enemy,” according to the Pentagon report. Six of the eight had “fraudulent paperwork and behavior,” the report said.
The Post story doesn’t indicate exactly how much of the $2.16 billion may have been redirected to the Taliban, but it suggests the figure is substantial. In one instance, $3.3 million of a $7.4 million payment to one of the eight companies was funneled through contractors and subcontractors before ending up in the account of an Afghan National Police commander, who then transferred the funds to insurgents to buy explosives and weapons.
The Pentagon in March extended the trucking contracts for another six months, the Post reported.
Unlike in Iraq, where U.S. companies received the bulk of the initial reconstruction contracts, the Obama administration created a program in Afghanistan in which locally-owned companies would do much of the work. The Post reported that 53 percent of more than 87,000 contract personnel employed by U.S. military in Afghanistan are locals.
Six of the eight trucking contractors are considered to be Afghan-owned, though one of the two officially U.S.-owned companies is controlled by the son of Afghanistan’s defense minister.
A senior U.S. defense official told the Post a revised transport system will be announced in a few weeks. The new system will increase the number of trucking contractors from eight to “at least 30” and revamp security procedures. The U.S. will also require detailed information on subcontractors and enact military supervision, the Post said.
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