RNA - According to the lawsuit filed in US District Court in Washington DC on Friday, large Western companies with lucrative businesses in post-9/11 Afghanistan paid off the Taliban through a series of subcontractors to discourage the group from attacking their business interests.
The lawsuit alleges the Taliban then used the money to fund attacks on other companies that didn’t make payments to the insurgent group.
“Those protection payments aided and abetted terrorism by directly funding an al-Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency that killed and injured thousands of Americans,” the lawsuit said.
The suit also alleges that the companies often chose to pay the Taliban rather than seek assistance from the US military in order to maximize profits.
They “rationalized their payments to the Taliban by framing them as a necessary cost of business,” it said.
Centerra Group, DAI Global, Louis Berger Group, Janus Global Operations and Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp are among the companies named in the suit.
A spokesman for Black & Veatch claimed the company had followed US government instructions, without commenting on the pending litigation.
It has been widely known that US companies have been flooding local warlords and insurgents with millions of dollars in protection money at the height of the war.
In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the "protection money" was "one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban."
A 2010 congressional investigation also confirmed that funds from Pentagon-backed contractors were fueling a “protection racket” by bribing local officials and possibly Taliban members in exchange for safe passage of goods.
None of the corporations who paid the Taliban have been prosecuted, nor were any of the Pentagon officials who paid the contractors.
The war in Afghanistan came under increased scrutiny after The Washington Post published a trove of documents dubbed the “Afghanistan Papers”.
The records revealed that US officials knew that the war was doomed from the outset. It also stated that the US lied to and deceived the American people and the world in trying to paint a positive picture of what was going on.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.
Some 18 years on, Washington is seeking a truce with the militants, who now control or have influence in about half of Afghanistan’s territories.
The US-led war has reportedly killed more than 150,000 people since its inception, including local security forces, civilians, insurgents and foreign troops. Thousands of US soldiers and their allies have also been killed in the war.
The conflict has cost the United States around a trillion dollars, according to recent US media reports even though a New York Times article put it to the north of $2 trillion.
Nearly 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of a mission to purportedly train, assist, and advise Afghan security forces.