US Treasury official says Taliban better bankrolled than Al Qaeda

      A senior official of the US Treasury Department has claimed that the Taliban is better bankrolled than Al Qaeda and relies on a wide range of criminal activities to pay for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing David Cohen claimed that the Taliban extorts money from poppy farmers and heroin traffickers involved in Afghanistan's booming drug trade. It also demands protection payments from legitimate Afghan businesses. Cohen's assessment at a conference on money laundering enforcement came as President Barack Obama and his top advisers discuss whether many more troops may be needed in the eight-year-old Afghanistan conflict, CBS reports. According to Cohen, al Qaeda is a cash-strapped organization that is losing its clout. That condition is the product of a long-running effort by the U.S. and its allies to cut off the terror group's sources of funding by targeting its deep-pocketed donors and interfering with its ability to move money. In the first half of 2009, he said, al Qaeda leaders had made four public appeals for money to bolster recruitment and training. Cohen, however, cautioned that situation could reverse quickly because a pool of donors "who are ready, willing and able to contribute to al Qaeda" still exists. The American Banking Association and the American Bar Association sponsored the conference.

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