US General Shot in Taliban Attack and 8 Taliban Members Sanctioned
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley died after being shot in a Taliban attack also killing 2 Afghan leaders in Kandahar province where the US mission trains and advises Afghan security forces and assists with counterterrorism operations. 8 Taliban members have been sanctioned including Pakistanis and Iranians with ties to IRGC-Quds Force. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait met recently at the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center and agreed to increase pressure on those providing support for Iran.
Since the US pulled out of Afghanistan, Iran began recruiting US trained fighters from Afghanistan for the war in Syria. Now, “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism,” stated Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. While Afghanistan’s mining industry also fell apart after the US pulled, the global heroin drug trade using Afghanistan’s extensive poppy farms has risen with the help of Iranian chem labs. Naim Barich among those who were sanctioned recently was designated in 2012 by by the United States under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).
Iranian national, Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi, was designated for providing housing and training for Taliban members at IRGC-QF facilities in Iran. This training at bases like Nehbandan included Afghan youth between the ages of twelve and fifteen years old as far back as 2008 for suicide attacks. Esma’il Razavi was a senior IRGC-QF official in Birjand in 2008 supporting anti-coalition militants in Farah and Herat Provinces. Abdullah Samad Faroqui acquired weapons and military aid from Iran for the Taliban including thousands of kilograms of explosives from the IRGC. The Taliban have used these to target infrastructure building projects like an oil pipeline that has been under construction and a dam that was targeted in order to recruit workers for suicide bombing missions.
Afghanistan remains largely undeveloped, and the Taliban will continue to target building projects in order to keep the Afghan government weak and susceptible to Taliban and Iranian control of resources.