Taliban Reportedly Involved in Gold, Lapis Trade

New York: The Taliban is illegally mining gold and controls access to a source of lapis lazuli, according to a United Nations Security Council report on Afghanistan issued in August.

The report, issued by the council’s sanctions monitoring team, quotes Afghan officials as saying Taliban forces have gained control of an illegal gold mining operation in Arghistan, Afghanistan.

The fundamentalist group, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and was ousted following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, also controls two of the three access roads to a lapis lazuli mine in the north, it said. “The Taliban would currently be in a position to extort payments from the transport of mined lapis lazuli,” it says.

That mine’s license has been held up because of a government dispute, so no lapis lazuli is leaving the country legally at present, the report adds.