Millions of U.S. Tax Dollars Could be Funding Afghan Terrorism, Says New Report

Mike O'Brien

American taxpayers could be funding insurgent groups in Afghanistan because of loopholes in U.S. legislation, a new study has shown.

The report, titled ‘Contracting with the Enemy’ and published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), details how Department of Defense funds can fall into the wrong hands via its network of contractors.

Criticism in the report focuses on Section 841 of the National Defense Authorization Act 2012 and its ambiguous wording. The legislation allows the DOD to discontinue a contract with a company found to have links to Afghan insurgent groups.

But SIGAR says because of errors in the section’s wording it is highly likely that U.S. money is filtering its way through the net and contributing to terrorism.

The document concludes that "millions of contracting dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm US Military and civilian personnel and derail the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort."

The DoD awarded 9,733 contracts in Afghanistan last year, but the report does not specify how much of the money involved may have been diverted to anti-American forces.

One of the main problems identified in the report is the fact that Section 841 only applies to contracts worth more than $100,000, which excludes about 80 percent of Afghan contractors.

Secondly, the report states that many of the contractors are not made aware of their legal obligation to avoid companies with insurgent links.

On top of that, information on companies that have been blacklisted under Section 841 is not properly handled by the DOD. The report states: "CENTCOM [Central Command] began posting Section 841 designations on its public website in January 2013; however, contracting officers and prime contractors are not required to regularly review the information."

Because the Section 841 law expires at the end of 2014, the dangers of U.S. cash going tom extremist groups will increase, reports.

John Spoko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, added that the U.S. government had failed to implement an anti-corruption plan that had been previously put forward.

He said: "More than two years ago, SIGAR recommended that the United States develop an integrated anti-corruption strategy. Although the U.S. Embassy in Kabul produced a draft strategy, it was not adopted."