Taliban feel pinch of world financial crisis

Even the Taliban are feeling the effects of the global financial crisis. A Turkish militant group, which has hundreds of Turkish, Chechen and Uzbek fighters allied to the Taliban, reported that a sharp drop in donations is hampering its fight against NATO soldiers.

Even the Taliban are feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.

A Turkish militant group, which has hundreds of Turkish, Chechen and Uzbek fighters allied to the Taliban, reported that a sharp drop in donations is hampering its fight against NATO soldiers.

The group, based near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, made the revelation on an Islamic website last Friday.

Just as financial support from donors in the Middle East and Turkey has dropped off, prices for ammunition and weapons on the black market are skyrocketing.

A rocket shell that used to cost $20 US now goes for $100, according to Seyfulkahar al-Muhaciri, part of the volunteer brigade of fighters.

A spike in the cost of copper a year ago pushed up ammunition prices, and the world's slumping economy has forced Arab donors to cut their support, said John Thompson, a Canadian military and security analyst.

"Everyone has taken a hit from the subprime mortgage crisis, and that includes the funding sources the jihadis are used to."

Sophisticated weapons difficult to obtain

U.S. missile strikes launched from remote-controlled Predator drones are inflicting losses on fighters based on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said al-Muhaciri.

Such air strikes often target foreign fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda, said Thompson.

"If you look at the al-Qaeda command council from 2001, 80 per cent of those people are dead," he said.

The presence of drones overhead means fighters spend a lot of time in hiding, said al-Muhaciri.

Militants need to buy expensive missiles to defend against the drone attacks, but black market arms dealers are reluctant to sell to them for fear of antagonizing the U.S. and NATO, he added.

If the Taliban or its allies were to acquire expensive anti-aircraft weapons, NATO would lose its primary strategic advantage, said military analyst Sunil Ram.

"If they can start knocking down NATO aircraft, that changes the war," he said.

Adding to the difficulties of the insurgency, said al-Muhaciri, there is a shortage of women to cook and clean for fighters on the front line.

Only 15 Turkish women so far have come to Afghanistan with their men, he said.