Taliban Wealthier than Al-Qaida: US Official

A senior official of US Treasury Department has said that Taliban are much financially better off than Al-Qaida and depend on a broad range of criminal activities to pay for attacks on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

During a speech at a conference on money laundering enforcement, David Cohen, the department’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, said that the militant outfit extracts money from poppy farmers and heroin traffickers involved in Afghanistan’s drug trade that is booming day by day. In addition, Taliban insist on protection money from legitimate Afghan business.

A discussion, between President Barack Obama and his advisers, is underway on whether more troops have to be deployed in the eight-year-old Afghanistan conflict. The part of the deliberations is about whether the fight should be a narrow one against Al-Qaida or a broader battle against the Taliban-led insurgency.

Cohen also said that Al-Qaida is today an organization short of money that is losing its clout. In his view, this condition is the result of a long-running effort by the US and its allies to cut off the terror group’s sources of funding by targeting its deep-pocketed donors and interfering with its ability to move money.

In the first half of 2009, he said, Al-Qaida’s leaders made four public appeals for money to bolster recruitment and training.

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