My CTB colleague Animesh Roul has just published an interesting piece on the Taliban’s use of gemstones in its financial structure. This has been, as my other CTB colleague Dennis Lormel and I can both attest, from different points of view, a long time subject of debate in the IC and law enforcement communities.
What is striking about the piece is not just the Taliban’s use of emeralds, but the use of gemstones going back many years, to the time of the initial jihad against the Soviets. Not only does the Taliban know how to mine, albeit at a rudimentary level, but it knows how to sell the stones on the market.
This is one of the reasons (and there are many, as Dennis and I have debated) I found the information on the use of diamonds credible was precisely that-the Taliban and radical Islamist groups had a long familiarity with the trade, and how to engage in it successfully. It was not something they were dabbling in with no prior experience or expertise.