Politics

U.S. Inspector General John Sopko Insists Tax-Payer Money Funds Afghan Militants

| by Emily Smith
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Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko submitted a cover letter in a quarterly report to Congress on Tuesday, questioning whether or not tax-payer money used in Afghanistan is used to fund Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"I am deeply troubled that the US military can pursue, attack and even kill terrorists and their supporters,” Sopko wrote, “but that some in the US government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract.”

Sopko condemned the growing gap between Washington policy and the reality in Afghanistan, despite Washington’s good intentions.

Sopko raised the same concern in April, when SIGAR reported that funds were at risk of being put into militant hands. He has also criticized the Afghan programs for their red tape and vulnerability.

The Army reported that SIGAR evidence, based partially on anonymous sources, was not sufficient to bar the 43 contractors that Sopko suggested were related to terrorist groups. The Army Suspension and Debarment Office noted that it would be a violation of the contractor’s due process of rights to suspend their funding.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also objected to SIGAR’s evidence, arguing that the inspector general had misunderstood the funded programs and that significant progress had been made since July 1 in delivering grants.

The U.S. has struggled to finance Afghanistan in the past, involving itself with the Afghan airline Kam Air, which U.S. investigators believed was associated with opium smuggling.

Sources: CS Monitor, RT