How the United States funds terror

politics | Nov 15, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

A new investigation has revealed that the U.S. government has paid more than $150 million to businesses linked to terrorists who attack American and allied forces in Afghanistan. A report prepared by the Pentagon’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction compiled a list of 43 such companies that are connected to Taliban leaders who have arranged bombs and attacks on American targets. “It's like the United States government subsidizing the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, those groups that are trying to shoot and kill our soldiers,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D) of New Hampshire in an interview with ABC News. 
Among the terrorist organizations receiving such funding is the Haqqani Network, which is the lesser known of those three groups, but still familiar to security experts. The group has been blamed for the attack on the American embassy in Kabul in 2011 that left 16 people dead. 
U.S. government monies go to a road construction company that is owned by the Haqqani Network. The company is one of 43 such private companies that the government has given contracts to, and although they have denied the connection to the Haqqani Network, the Pentagon still listed them in the report. 
Despite the Pentagon report, bureaucratic delays have so far prevented a halt to the funding of terror. “The reason they've given us is that it's not fair to these contractors that the evidence that we've presented, and this is evidence collected by the United States government, is classified,” said Special Inspector General John Sopko. “That's the absurdity of it. We can probably attack them via drone on Monday and we'll issue them a contract on Tuesday,” Sopko told ABC News.  
The report prepared by Sopko highlighted more than $150 million paid to contractors tied to terror. “I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” wrote Sopko in the report he submitted to Congress in July 2013. “I feel that such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan.”
Following the report, the Army put out a statement saying that the companies have not be awarded new contracts in light of the findings, but they did not say anything about ending the contracts currently in place.
Following the revelations, the U.S. military issued a statement. “The army takes seriously any allegations of improper contractor activities and has vigorous processes to ensure that those with whom we do business are not supporting the insurgency or otherwise opposing U.S. and collation forces in Afghanistan,” the statement said. However, no word emerged as to whether the offending contracts have actually been cancelled.
Another controversial link between the U.S. and terror has been documented by investigative journalist Edwin Black in his latest book, Financing the Flames. According to his meticulous research, Black shows that funds provided directly to the Palestinian Authority by donor countries, as well as charitable donations given to a network of interconnected nonprofits in the U.S. and Israel,  are used to pay monthly salaries to terrorists held in Israeli prisons.  These are prisoners who have been convicted of terrorist acts such as bombings, armed assaults, and murders. Mere thieves and burglars are excluded.
According to Black, “Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism and the longer the prison sentence, the higher is the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly — a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of 10 to 15 years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. More severe acts of terrorism, those punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month. These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for this compensation. The law ensures the greatest financial reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism.”
Black said further, “About 6 percent of the Palestinian budget is diverted to terrorist salaries. All this money comes from so-called “donor countries” such as the United States, Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark. Palestinian officials have reacted with defiance to any foreign governmental effort to end the salaries. “Deputy Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein declared to the satellite TV network Hona Al-Quds: ‘If the financial assistance and support to the PA are stopped, the [payment of] salaries (rawatib) and allowances (mukhassasat) to Palestinian prisoners will not be stopped, whatever the cost may be. The prisoners are our joy. We will sacrifice everything for them and continue to provide for their families.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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