Intelligence: Deploying Cash

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October 5, 2007: Money talks in Afghanistan. Despite the warrior culture, and importance of tribal relationships and politics, it's also an Afghan tradition to take money for information. Americans knew this before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, and CIA and Special Forces officers won many battles by deploying thick bundles of $100 bills. Afghan warlords would take the money, and switch sides. Until a better offer came along.

American intelligence agents have, over the past six years, had a lot of success with small cash rewards, given for bits of information. This has become so widespread that the Taliban will often search the men and boys of a village, and execute those found to be carrying U.S. currency. Afghans prefer to get their rewards in U.S. currency, as it is considered the safest money to have. But recently, the Taliban hung a fifteen year old boy, who had five one dollar bills on him.

This sort of thing has made the Taliban unpopular, and the U.S. is capitalizing on this by running a large "Most Wanted" campaign. Rewards of $20,000 to $200,000 are being offered for information leading to the capture (dead or alive) of the twelve most wanted Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. These are guys who are not well known, even inside Afghanistan, but have been major players in the campaign of suicide and roadside bombings the Taliban and al Qaeda have carried out in the past year. By distributing 300,000 "wanted" posters throughout southern Afghanistan, the average Afghan will now know who has been responsible for many of these attacks. The rewards, even the $20,000 one, are enough to change an Afghans life. Afghanistan is, after all, the poorest country in Asia. The "most wanted" program is also expected to make these Taliban leaders nervous, and a little more paranoid. Every little bit helps.

 


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