The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the authority charged with providing oversight of reconstruction efforts in the war-torn nation, suggests that American taxpayers have paid more than $150 million to 43 Mideast companies with strong ties to terrorism.
Using data compiled from classified Pentagon documents and a list of terror-linked companies compiled by the Commerce Department, SIGAR found numerous examples of funds for rebuilding provided by the U.S. government making it into terrorist hands.
According to ABC, one of the most extreme examples involved U.S. contracts with a road construction firm whose owners have direct ties to the anti-American Haqqani network — an organization that the Federal government declared a terrorist group last September.
The news network reported that a U.S. Army investigation concluded that the firm and its owners were directly involved “in the facilitation and operation of the Haqqani Network” and that “approximately $1-2 million per month flow[s] to Haqqani Network to finance its activities.”
But SIGAR representatives say that, despite the findings, the Pentagon has rejected calls to deny funds to companies with terrorist ties for fear of violating the contractors’ “due process,” as they are unable to view the classified information that links them to terrorists.
“The reason they’ve given us is that it’s not fair to these contractors that the evidence that we’ve presented, and this is evidence collected by the United States government, is classified,” John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), told ABC News. “That’s the absurdity of it. We can probably attack them via drone on Monday and we’ll issue them a contract on Tuesday.”
Last December, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) were joined by a coalition of Senators — Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — in sending Pentagon officials a letter urging the U.S. military apparatus to discontinue business with terror-linked businesses in the Mideast.
“An effective and timely suspension and debarment process is critical to ensuring appropriate use of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan, as well as for preventing these funds from flowing to criminal and terrorist networks,” the Senators wrote almost a year ago. “With these concerns in mind, we ask that you closely review the 43 cases involving terrorist groups that are still pending before the suspension and debarment branch. In addition, we ask that you ensure the Army processes future referrals from Afghanistan in a deliberate and timely manner.”
But according to SIGAR, the Pentagon continues to place taxpayer dollars into the hands of terror-affiliated companies in the region. That means American taxpayers are rebuilding the nation the U.S. tore apart in an effort to defeat “terror” while simultaneously funding terror.
Meanwhile, Basit Javed Sheikh, 29, of Cary, N.C., was arrested by the FBI earlier this month of at Raleigh-Durham International Airport as he was preparing to board a one-way flight to Lebanon. The man, a legal permanent U.S. resident from Pakistan, was picked up on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Sheikh was nabbed after he corresponded with a Facebook account set up by a confidential FBI source and an undercover operative who posed as a “trusted brother” of Jabhat al-Nusrah, a mostly Sunni Muslim jihadist organization involved in the fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The FBI said that Sheikh was eager to travel to Syria and join the group in its fight against Assad — something that President Barack Obama, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a handful of other lawmakers called for the U.S. military to do a little more than a month ago.
“I want to help in any way I can,” Sheikh wrote online, according to an affidavit, adding: “I’m serious [brother]. … I’m not scared. … I’m [sic] have though it out. … I’m ready.”
Sheikh, who paid for a one-way ticket to go fight alongside Syrian rebels in a conflict that would likely have led to his demise, all without U.S. taxpayer dollars, faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The aforementioned reports are different in nature: one about the government sending your money to terrorists to keep the military-industrial complex well-oiled, and the other about an individual headed off to fight alongside terrorists whom the Federal government told Americans, just months ago, deserve support. But reading them alongside one another should raise some serious questions about U.S. policy in the Mideast and the true meaning of this never-ending “war on terror.” The stories should also make Americans wonder to whom U.S. law does and doesn’t apply.