The Taliban has netted millions from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, according to a Friday report.
The Islamic militant group has served as the de facto ruler of Afghanistan since US troops withdrew from the country in August 2021.
According to the UK-based newspaper The Telegraph, the group made millions of dollars by renting heavy machinery and building materials to construction contractors hired by Qatari authorities to erect the state-of-the-art stadiums used during the tournament.
The report said Taliban officials stationed in Doha since 2013 for peace talks with the West were paid lucrative allowances to live in the Gulf state, which were then used to purchase the machinery, which they repeatedly rented out to the highest bidder.
“The Taliban invested heavily in the World Cup construction and the tournament was a golden duck. They were paid millions,” The Telegraph quoted a Taliban official as saying.
“Some 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 official added.
The high salaries provided to the Taliban officials were paid by the Qatari authorities with the approval of the United States and the United Nations, the report said.
Due to the funds being transferred directly to the officials’ private accounts, the report added, it was hard for authorities to keep track of spending.
The report stressed that Qatar was not suspected of wrongdoing or involvement in the construction projects set up by the Taliban.
According to some estimates, as many as 6,500 migrant workers have died in World Cup-related projects in Qatar since the Gulf state won the right to host the international tournament.
Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year, the group promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterized its first stint in power, from 1996-2001, but has gradually clamped down on rights and freedoms.
Earlier this month, the group’s leader ordered judges to fully enforce aspects of Islamic law that include public executions, stonings and floggings, and the amputation of limbs for thieves.
The group has also reinstated bans on women attending gyms, public baths, parks and fairs.