How did the Taliban make a lot of money out of the Qatar World Cup?

Qatar continues to be widely criticized by Western media outlets for its handling of the 2022 World Cup. Following accusations made against Doha regarding human rights issues, especially the issue of workers’ rights, and the restrictions imposed on the LGBT+ community during the games, talk started about the role of the Afghan Taliban in helping to build World Cup facilities.

A report by the British newspaper “The Telegraph” published by the website “Monte Carlo” revealed that the Afghan extremist movement made millions of dollars as a result of helping authorities in Doha with construction related to the World Cup.

According to the data published by the newspaper, the movement leased large machines to the property of a number of its leaders, in addition to building materials for the Contracting Company, which is charged with building stadiums and infrastructure to receive the world championship.

The report said Taliban leaders living in Qatar had received significant financial support from Doha since 2013 and had been engaged in negotiations with Washington before taking over Afghanistan last year.

Taliban leaders invested the money in massive construction equipment used to rehabilitate infrastructure and build World Cup stadiums.

The report described the World Cup as a “golden goose” for Taliban leaders who have reaped huge profits but do not know how they are spent.

It said Taliban officials made profits and acquired equipment, “ranging from six to 10 pieces of heavy construction machinery”.

Taliban leaders “earn up to 10,000 pounds, or more than $12,000 per machine per month”, he said.

The Telegraph reported that the Qatari authorities paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to members of the Taliban political bureau in Doha, with Washington’s approval, as part of attempts to facilitate the peace talks.

The salaries were initially paid in cash and transferred directly to the bank accounts of Taliban officials, it said.

Those measures made it difficult to track spending amid concerns it could be diverted to buy weapons and support abuses by the extremist movement inside Afghanistan, it said.

Although the Qatari side insisted that the payments were monitored in cooperation with the United States, and that the Qatari government was not directly involved in Taliban projects, the payment of funds to a movement described as terrorist is considered “part of the financing of terrorism,” observers said.

The findings are expected to add to the embarrassment and criticism directed at the Qatari authorities regarding human rights issues, especially from the European side.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan and the capital Kabul in August 2021 after more than two decades of conflict with US, international and Afghan forces following marathon peace negotiations in Doha.

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