After the Biden administration green-lighted taxpayer dollars meant to support humanitarian and other expansive forms of aid to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan—such as money to go toward “endangered species research” in the country—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is leading 14 of her colleagues in demanding a full accounting of the money the administration is allowing to flow through the Taliban and Haqqani Network.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen, Ernst and her colleagues write, “We write to express significant concerns over the recent announcement from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) on the issuance of General Licenses (GLs) authorizing the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars through the Taliban and the Haqqani network. While we agree widespread famine and denial of rights to Afghan women and girls are immediate problems to address with humanitarian aid and assistance, OFAC’s sweeping authorization risks too much U.S. taxpayer money flowing through the Taliban or the Haqqani network to fund an excessive, ill-fated, or wasteful list of services such as activities to support the rule of law by the Taliban, education exchanges in a country that now devalues education for women and girls, and endangered species research.
They continue, “Furthermore, OFAC does not outline control mechanisms to ensure funds do not end up in the Taliban’s coffers. As these licenses stand, the Administration’s wide latitude and unclear enforcement mechanisms risk the American taxpayer funding the world’s most dangerous foreign terrorist organization.
The senators go on, “We call on this administration to stand by its promise to not remove financial sanctions against the Taliban unless they changed their governing policies, denied safe harbor to terrorists, and guaranteed the fundamental human rights of Afghan women and girls. Clearly, they have not met those conditions.”
In the letter, the senators request detailed responses to the following information by no later than February 11, 2022:
1. A listing of total funds provided by the U.S. to each GL issued by OFAC related to humanitarian assistance, other support, and trade with Afghanistan.
2. The total amount and percentage of funds collected by the Taliban and Haqqani network in the form of a tax, fee, or import duty.
3. The total humanitarian aid funding the U.S. has sent Afghanistan since August 31, 2021.