A government watchdog is raising alarms over the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, warning that the Taliban may be stealing money from the billions of dollars meant to help the people of Afghanistan.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko made the warning during a HouseOversight Committee hearing, telling lawmakers that he could not assure them that the Taliban are not diverting funds away from the intended recipients.
The withdrawal in 2021 cost 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghan civilians their lives in a bomb blast near the airport. As U.S. forces left, the Taliban quickly took control of the country and seized a huge cache of military equipment the U.S. had sent to Afghan security forces.
SIGAR plans to release a 2023 High-Risk List report that looks at the “five serious risks to the more than $8 billion the United States has provided or otherwise made available to the Afghan people since the U.S. withdrawal.” This includes taxes and fees imposed by the Taliban, funds diverted away from groups they deem hostile, and a lack of transparency from the United Nations.
The report also found that the State Department and United States Agency for International Development are refusing to cooperate with audits and other inquiries, which has hampered SIGAR’s ability to oversee funds spent on Afghanistan.This means it is impossible for the American people to know if their tax dollars are being used to fund the Taliban and other nefarious groups.
Republicans are concerned that the Biden administration’s hasty withdrawal and lack of accountability could be puttingU.S. taxpayer money into the wrong hands. Without full transparency, it is impossible to know if the money intended to help the Afghan people is actually reaching them, or if it is being diverted to the Taliban.
🚨 John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction: "As I sit here today, I cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer we are not currently funding the Taliban." pic.twitter.com/D4PIlzUVZ7
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) April 19, 2023