Afghan gun dealers are buying and selling American weapons that were seized from American-trained Afghan soldiers by the Taliban, according to a new report.
Three weapons dealers spoke to the New York Times about the market.
The Times reports, “in interviews, three weapons dealers in Kandahar said that dozens of Afghans have set up weapons shops in Afghanistan’s south, selling American-made pistols, rifles, grenades, binoculars and night-vision goggles. The equipment was originally provided to the Afghan security forces under a U.S. training and assistance program that cost American taxpayers more than $83 billion through two decades of war.”
“During the insurgency, the Taliban eagerly sought out American-supplied weapons and gear. But now much of that weaponry is being sold to Afghan entrepreneurs because Taliban demand has eased with the end of combat, the gun merchants said.” They say that many gun dealers have smuggled the weapons to Pakistan, where demand for American-made weapons is strong,” the report details.
While the Pentagon said that all advanced weaponry was disabled prior to the withdrawal, thousands of smaller weapons were left behind.
“Since 2005, the U.S. military has provided the Afghan national defense and security forces with many thousands of small arms, ranging from pistols to medium machine guns,” Maj. Rob Lodewick, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement to The Times.
Some of the weapons are reportedly even being sold in Pakistan.
The Taliban’s official spokesperson has denied selling the weapons, however.
In an interview with The New York Times, a Taliban spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said that weapons were not for sale. “I totally deny this; our fighters cannot be that careless,” he said. “Even a single person cannot sell a bullet in the market or smuggle it.”
Karimi added that captured weapons “are all listed, verified and are all saved and secure under the Islamic Emirate for the future army.”
Other members of the Taliban have admitted that the weapons made their way to the market.
As reported earlier the Biden administration left billions in US weapons in Afghanistan that went to the Taliban after the US withdrew from the country.