By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation
The Biden administration is the “single largest donor” of taxpayer money to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan since the U.S. evacuated forces in 2021, according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on Tuesday.
The U.S. appropriated over $2.35 billion in funds for Afghanistan reconstruction and humanitarian efforts since 2021, following the disordered withdrawal of American forces in the region, according to the SIGAR report. John Sopko, head of SIGAR, warned Congress in April that he “cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer we are not currently funding the Taliban,” and said that the Biden administration has blocked investigative efforts as to whether the Taliban is being sustained by American tax dollars.
“The Taliban are comfortable accepting foreign support insofar as they can closely monitor the organizations, including restricting and controlling them, and claim some credit for the provision of the benefits,” reads the SIGAR report. “Despite Taliban promises made since gaining power in August 2021 to be more inclusive, counter terrorism, respect human rights, and not pose a security threat to the region, the U.N. says that the Taliban ‘shows no signs of bending to pressure for reform or compromise.’”
The U.S. first appropriated the aid package in 2021, despite multiple warnings from federal lawmakers and agencies that the funds could be misused, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Efforts by Congress to track the money have been stonewalled, and investigative efforts by SIGAR have been largely ignored by the Biden administration and the State Department.
Sopko said in April it was possible, due to the deep lack of transparency and oversight, that the funds are ending up with “other nefarious groups” in addition to the Taliban, including ISIS.
“I cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer we are not currently funding the Taliban… We simply do not know since the Department of State, USAID, the U.N., and other agencies are refusing to give us basic information that we or any other oversight body would need to ensure safe stewardship of tax dollars,” Sopko said to the House Oversight Committee in April. “More troubling, State and USAID have instructed their employees not to talk to SIGAR, and in one recent instance, State told one of its contractors not to participate in a SIGAR audit.”
The Taliban is in near total control of Afghanistan and increasingly interferes in non-governmental operations attempting to provide relief in the region, according to the SIGAR report. This has led to a “steady decline” in humanitarian access as “aid diversion and bureaucratic roadblocks” created by the Taliban prevents beneficiaries from receiving assistance.
“The Taliban operate under the assumption that ‘the threat of force and raw power can compel any desirable outcome.’ This is exemplified by the Taliban approach to foreign NGOs in Afghanistan,” reads the SIGAR report. “The Taliban will ‘accept foreign-funded and provided goods and services as long as they are delivered in a suitably low-profile, apolitical fashion, and with immediate tangible benefit.’ Any sign of political dissent is met with the threat of force.”
The White House, USAID and State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.