How Crime Pays for the Taliban

It isn't just drugs. Extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and protection rackets all help fund the growing Afghan insurgency. Why crime pays big-time for the Taliban

Eros Hoagland / Redux

In the battle against the Taliban, U.S. Marines, seen here in the Korengal Valley, often face the ire of villagers who complain about mortar strikes on their homes

To understand why America and its allies are losing the war in Afghanistan, consider the story behind one deadly attack. On July 6, in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, a powerful improvised explosive device, or IED, detonated under the wheels of a U.S. humvee. Four soldiers died, as did their translator and a bystander. The makeshift bomb was assembled with goods from the local bazaar. The man who placed it was probably paid the going rate of $750, according to government officials, or more if he captured video proof of dead soldiers. And though the local Taliban covered his expenses...

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