US airstrikes are targeting more than Taliban fighters – they’re now going after the group’s fundraising activities.
About 113 US airstrikes have targeted Taliban revenue, directed primarily against opium production and roadside taxes. Most of the airstrikes have been aimed at labs that process opium.
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 US military estimates that the Taliban gets between 50-60% of its revenue from opium production (around $320 million per year). To date, the bombing campaign is reported to have deprived the Taliban of $44 million.
Analysis: While the Taliban does get the bulk of its money from the drug trade, the group has a diversified fundraising strategy that includes protection activities, kidnapping for ransom, and donations from the Persian gulf.