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Updated: October 13, 2009 21:03 IST

Taliban’s financial clout soaring, al-Qaeda’s influence waning

PTI
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In this Oct. 4, 2009 file photo, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq (right) is seen with leader of Pakistani Taliban Hakimullah Mehsud in Sararogha in Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along Afghanistan border.
AP In this Oct. 4, 2009 file photo, Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq (right) is seen with leader of Pakistani Taliban Hakimullah Mehsud in Sararogha in Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan along Afghanistan border.

Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda is in its worst financial state in several years while the Taliban’s funding is flourishing as they rely on a range of criminal activities to fund attacks on U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. Treasury Department official has said.

David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary looking after the issue of terrorist financing, claimed that the U.S. and its allies had successfully targeted al-Qaeda’s biggest financial donors and curbed the network’s ability to move money.

“We assess that al-Qaeda is in its weakest financial condition in several years, and that, as a result, its influence is waning,” Mr. Cohen said on Monday at a conference sponsored by the American Bankers Association and the American Bar Association.

In the first half of this year, al-Qaeda’s leaders made four public appeals for money to bolster recruitment and training, he said.

But he warned that the Taliban and other militant groups still have several sources of income as they had multiple donors “who are ready, willing and able to contribute”.

Meanwhile, the Taliban appeared to be emerging stronger despite efforts to contain their cash supply.

He said the Taliban was in much better financial shape, due to payments from poppy farmers, drug runners and legitimate businesses.

Afghanistan’s booming poppy cultivation and drugs trade was a major source of funds for the group and had helped pay for attacks on coalition forces in the country, Mr. Cohen said.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has said in his assessment of the war that the diversity of the Taliban’s streams of cash made it difficult to blunt their ability to operate.

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