By Tony Attwood
The Taliban (or to give it, its official title, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a militant Islamic political movement ruling about 75% of Afghanistan.
As such it is not normally a topic of conversation on Untold Arsenal, except that since the World Cup is currently running, it is of some interest to note that the Taliban is reported by the Telegraph to have “made millions from the World Cup by providing construction equipment to build stadiums in Qatar.”
Thus in a very real sense, by taking part in and actively supporting the World Cup as the broadcasters, reporters, bloggers who report on it in a positive way do, these people are supporting those behind the World Cup – including the Taliban.
The Telegraph tells us that “Senior Taliban officials used lucrative salaries tied to peace talks to buy and then subcontract heavy machinery for tournament infrastructure over the past decade.”
What’s more, “A large contingent of the Taliban leadership lived in Doha, the capital of Qatar, from 2013 onward.” Something like that could not have escaped Fifa’s attention.
Seemingly the way the system worked was that “Taliban members had between six and ten pieces of heavy machinery each in Doha and would earn up to £10,000 per machine per month.”
The Telegraph continues, “Two separate senior Taliban sources described how officials were given lucrative allowances to live in the country during the peace negotiations, which was then invested in heavy construction machinery.”
Apparently, members of the Taliban political office were paid to help persuade the west to desist from further attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan. Meetings were held in Qatar and “visiting officials were also provided with luxury SUVs, free health care and regular food deliveries.”
Cash was also handed over to help make matters run smoothly, which then went directly into Taliban controlled bank accounts that were out of the reach of western authorities – and indeed of Qatar’s investigative officers.
The Telegraph continues by saying that Haji Ahmad Jan, the former minister of petroleum and mines in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, and a Taliban representative, “oversaw the leasing of machines to construction companies responsible for building the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure. Haji Ahmad Jan has been approached for comment.”
An Afghan diplomat in Doha is reported as saying, “It was an open secret in the Afghan Embassy in Doha that the Taliban negotiations team and political office were being paid well by the Qatari regime and they invested these salaries in construction equipment for the World Cup.”
As you will know if you are a regular reader of Untold, we’ve reported on the appalling conditions of workers who built the stadia, with estimates of around 6,000 migrants having died during the building of the World Cup facilities. During the time the Americans took over Afghanistan and protected it from Taliban insurgencies, Taliban militants retreated to Qatar where, the Telegraph says, they “were welcomed by the country’s then-Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani.”
It is widely acknowledged that Qatar became a broker in the 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and the US. Following the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan however the economy has collapsed with tales of “near-universal poverty” and the international media is now no longer able to cover events in the county. Sharia law has now returned including the regular use of stonings and floggings, with girls refused permission to attend secondary school, and women refused permission to use public spaces.
Thus the fears that some of us had about Qatar and its use of slave labour have expanded into something even worse: the link between Qatar and the Taliban. Which effectively means the link between Fifa and the Taliban.
If ever there was a moment for any country that has any morality or sense of what is right and what is wrong, to take action and denounce Fifa it is now. Of course it won’t happen – but then that’s what we are used to.
Now we can see where much of the money pouring into Qatar is going, and what has been happening in the name of football. And at least we can call Fifa by a name that encompasses the causes it works with: Fifa-Taliban.
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