“It’s a lot of money for us. We don’t care if we kill foreigners: their blood allows us to feed our families and the more we kill, the more we weaken them. Of course we are going to celebrate this,” said a [Taliban] commander from Ghazni province.
TALIBAN rebels are earning a bounty of up to 200,000 Pakistani rupees (£1,660 [or $2400 USD]) for each Nato soldier they kill, according to insurgent commanders.
The money is said to come from protection rackets, taxes imposed on opium farmers, donors in the Gulf states who channel money through Dubai and from the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan.
So far this year 213 Nato soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, including 41 British troops, bringing the potential rewards for the Taliban to £350,000.
Taliban commanders said the bounty had more than doubled since the beginning of last year.
The insurgents, who employ “hit and run” tactics against foot patrols and convoys, use paid informants, media reports and the local population to confirm the deaths of Nato soldiers.
“We can’t lie to our commanders: they can check to see if there was a fight in that area. We get money if we capture equipment too. A gun can fetch $1,000 [£690],” said a commander from Khost province who controls about 60 fighters.
The money usually reaches commanders via the traditional hawala transfer system found in many Muslim countries. They then share it among their men and sometimes celebrate with a feast.
Most Taliban commanders deny any financial motive. In a dozen interviews over the past four months, low and midlevel Taliban commanders from provinces where the insurgency is fierce have set out their conditions for ending the violence.
“We are not fighting for money or power. We are fighting to end government corruption, to rid this country of foreign troops, and we want a return to sharia law,” said a Kandahar commander.