In 2016, Forbes ranked the Taliban as the fifth richest in the world’s ten terrorist organization list. Isis was at the top with a 2 billion USD annual turnover. When the Taliban was not at its peak, its yearly turnover was 400 million USD.
Forbes also reported that the Taliban’s primary source of income was drug trafficking, protection money, and donations from worldwide.
According to the NATO Confidential Report. Which was accessed by Radio Free Europe. That report stipulated that the budget of the Taliban in 2019-2020 was USD 1.6 billion. It has been increased 400 percent in just four years.
The report listed the sources from which the Taliban earn so much money.
- Mining – $464 million
- Drugs -$416 million
- Foreign donation – $240 million
- Exports $240 million
- Taxes – $160 million (EE – Protection Money and Extortion Money)
- Real Estate -$80 million
Afghanistan is a home of rich minerals, metals, and precious stones,This is also a huge reason for China’s interest in Afghanistan.
One of the precious stones is the Lapis stone. It appears blue in color. Its beautiful and costly stone is mined and exported to several countries from Afghanistan.
The mining industry of Afghanistan is estimated to be worth at least 1 billion USD. Mining extraction does not necessarily happen on a large scale. Most of them are illegal and occurs at small places on a small scale.
Minerals and metals like Iron ore, copper, marble, zinc, gold, rare earth minerals are found in the mountain regions of Afghanistan. Mining companies or small-scale businesses pay a considerable amount to the Taliban to let their businesses run without interference. So, in a way, the Taliban control the mining sites.
Drug trafficking is the second most important source of income for the Taliban. Opium is the largest export in the world from Afghanistan.
Before this, let us know a little about the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle. What are these?
The Golden Crescent is the illicit opium production area in Central, South, and West Asia. This zone covers three countries. Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
According to the (UNODC) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, 90% of the world’s non-pharmaceutical grade opium is found in Afghanistan. Apart from Opium, Afghanistan also produces the most Hash in the world. Opium is supplied to Iran, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, India, and Russia.
The Golden Triangle is also an Opium production area located at the intersection of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar in South East Asia. Where the Mekong River and Ruak River meet, it is the second-largest producer of Opium after Afghanistan. Or say that Myanmar is the world’s 2nd largest opium producer. As per the UNODC, Till 2006, this region was the world’s largest opium producer, but now it became famous for synthetic drugs.
Now Back To The Taliban,
Worldwide annual export value of illicit Opium produced in Afghanistan ranges from 1.3 billion to 3 billion,
The opium poppy is a vast business. Cultivation areas of Opium poppy are Kandahar Province, Helmand Province, and Kabul. All these regions were under the Afghan government, which the Taliban now controls.
How does the Taliban make money from all this?
The Taliban takes 10% tax from all the farmers who cultivate Opium there. Then there is a tax for the laboratory in which Opium is converted from Opium to Heroin. The traders’ tax is for those who smuggle these drugs.
That Confidential Report of NATO also said that the Taliban is now rushing towards self-sufficiency. In the early days, the Taliban was primarily dependent on donations from other countries. This is why there has been a Decrement in donations in the last few years due to Self-Sufficiency.
Dryfruits are exported from Afghanistan in a big way. 85% of India’s dry fruits come from Afghanistan. The Taliban earns a massive amount of money from them.
There is hardly any business or goods on which the Taliban does not collect tax. Tax is a significant source of income for the Taliban. Taxes come from industries, Mining Sites, Media, Telecommunication, any ongoing development projects in the Taliban-controlled regions, even the drivers are charged using highways. Shopkeepers pay the Taliban to do their business right. Through Extortion and taxes, the Taliban earns around $160 million.
Taliban Receives a whopping amount of $240 million as a donation from all over the world. Some are from private institutions, and some are from individuals who are sympathetically moved by the Taliban, mainly from the Persian Gulf countries. Pakistan, UAE, and Iran are few countries with private citizens who donate money to the Taliban cause from time to time.
These are the ways through which the Taliban earn so much money. Now that they are in control of Afghanistan, they are going to get richer.