In order to combat a significant source of Taliban funds, the US has undertaken 9 months of airstrikes against opium production sites in Afghanistan. The Taliban is believed to earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year in the opium trade, accounting for approximately 60% of the group’s revenues. According to US sources, to date, the airstrikes have wiped out $46 million in Taliban revenues, but that represents less than a quarter of what they are believed to earn from the drug.
These airstrikes are part of a new US strategy aimed at destroying Taliban weapons caches, command facilities and revenue sources. The US may also target Taliban illegal mining operations in the future.
The Taliban also earns funds from other sources, including from donations from foreign governments, as well as illegal activity such as protection activity, illegal imports, exports, and domestic smuggling. The group has also conducted kidnappings for ransom to raise funds.
Analysis: While the Taliban is likely feeling the effects of the US airstrikes, the diversification of their funding methods likely allows the group a greater degree of resilience against this type of action. Their overall financial position is likely still robust, given the amounts of money that they have raised through the opium trade and other fundraising mechanisms.