For sale now: US-supplied weapons in Afghan gun shops

On the market now: US-supplied weapons in Afghan gun retailers

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Within the chaos of the American navy withdrawal and the Taliban takeover this summer season, 1000’s of American-made weapons and tons of navy gear had been seized by the militants as authorities navy bases surrendered or had been overrun.

With the Taliban in energy, extra American weapons and navy equipment are actually being brazenly offered in retailers by Afghan gun sellers who paid authorities troopers and Taliban fighters for weapons, ammunition and different materiel, in accordance with weapons sellers in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

In interviews, three weapons sellers in Kandahar stated that dozens of Afghans have arrange weapons retailers in Afghanistan’s south, promoting American-made pistols, rifles, grenades, binoculars and night-vision goggles. The gear was initially offered to the Afghan safety forces underneath a US coaching and help program that price American taxpayers greater than $83 billion via twenty years of warfare.

Throughout the insurgency, the Taliban eagerly sought out American-supplied weapons and equipment. However now a lot of that weaponry is being offered to Afghan entrepreneurs as a result of Taliban demand has eased with the top of fight, the gun retailers stated. They are saying that many gun sellers have smuggled the weapons to Pakistan, the place demand for American-made weapons is powerful.

The lack of tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in American-made weapons and equipment is yet one more expensive consequence of the failed, 20-year mission to Afghanistan. It resulted in chaos and upheaval when the Taliban seized Kabul on Aug. 15 after crushing an Afghan navy constructed, skilled and funded by the USA.

Through the years, the USA offered the Afghan navy with an enormous array of arms and automobiles, together with M4 carbines, rockets, A-29 mild assault plane, Humvees, and copious ammunition for assault rifles and machine weapons, in accordance with a latest report by the Particular Inspector Common for Afghanistan Reconstruction. For the 2 earlier fiscal years ending in June, the quantity spent on the Afghan navy totaled $2.6 billion.

The Pentagon on Monday acknowledged that numerous American-supplied arms remained in Afghanistan.

“Since 2005, the US navy has offered the Afghan nationwide protection and safety forces with many 1000’s of small arms, starting from pistols to medium machine weapons,” Maj. Rob Lodewick, a Protection Division spokesman, stated in an announcement to The New York Occasions.

After the Afghan authorities’s collapse in August, Lodewick stated, “we recognise that giant numbers of those weapons are in all probability now in Taliban fingers.”

A Taliban fighter with an American assault rifle guards a US armored transport car at Kabul’s airport on Aug. 31, 2021. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Occasions)

In congressional testimony final week, Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin stated that extra subtle weaponry that American troops had been utilizing in Afghanistan was eliminated when the final forces left in late August. Superior weaponry offered to the Afghan safety forces, akin to helicopters and airplanes, was disabled earlier than the People left, Pentagon officers stated.

However the Taliban denied that any of these weapons had been hitting the market.

In an interview with The Occasions, a Taliban spokesman, Bilal Karimi, stated that weapons weren’t on the market. “I completely deny this; our fighters can’t be that careless,” he stated. “Even a single individual can not promote a bullet available in the market or smuggle it.”

He added that American-made weapons beforehand captured in the course of the warfare “are all listed, verified and are all saved and safe underneath the Islamic Emirate for the longer term military.” (The Taliban discuss with their authorities because the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.)

Different Taliban figures, nevertheless, have confirmed {that a} large wave of American weapons has hit the market.

AFGHAN WEAPONS 6 2 The flag of the Talilban flies from a US navy Humvee on the airport in Kabulon Sept. 3, 2021. (Jim Huylebroek/The New York Occasions)

This summer season, troves of US-supplied weapons had been both stolen and offered by Afghan safety forces, or seized by the Taliban as they negotiated wholesale surrenders through which troopers and police handed over such weapons and gear in trade for Taliban guarantees to spare their lives. Different instances, uniforms, weapons and equipment had been merely deserted by Afghan troopers and police as they abandoned.

Some troopers and police offered their weapons and ammunition earlier than they negotiated their surrenders. Weapons sellers would pay about $1,200 for a single US-service Beretta M9 handgun, the gun retailers stated — way over a soldier’s month-to-month wage, at a time when many police and troopers weren’t being paid or resupplied with ammunition, meals or water.

American M4 carbines promote for about $4,000, the sellers stated, particularly if outfitted with a laser sight or under-barrel grenade launcher. In distinction, a Kalashnikov rifle sells for about $900, the sellers stated, and a Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade launcher for about $1,100. Pistols that NATO forces provided to Afghan cops promote for about $350. Virtually all their transactions are in Pakistani rupees, and in money, the sellers stated.

One gun service provider, Esmatullah, stated he opened a store in Kandahar province roughly eight months in the past, after the Taliban seized management of the speedy space. Earlier than that, he stated, he operated as a roving gun service provider, visiting authorities bases to purchase weapons and ammunition from troopers and police determined for money and fed up with a authorities in Kabul that they believed had deserted them.

“We used to work as a cellular group,” he stated. “We might meet many authorities troopers and officers to purchase weapons from them. After that we’d take these weapons to the Taliban and promote it to them, or to anybody who would give us a great value.”

Individually, the Taliban permitted their fighters to promote a number of the small arms they seized when bases surrendered or had been overrun, the gun retailers stated. The remainder of the confiscated weapons had been handed over to Taliban commanders, whose fighters fired American-made M4 assault carbines and rode in American Humvees after they marched throughout the nation this summer season.

In the present day, the retailers say their prospects are Afghan entrepreneurs and strange residents. These Afghans are shopping for coveted American-made weapons both to resell in Pakistan, for self-defense or to settle long-standing private or tribal feuds.

AFGHAN WEAPONS 5 0 A Taliban fighter in AfghanistanÕs Panjshir Valley on Sept. 14, 2021, with surplus weapons and ammunition discovered close by. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Occasions)

“American-made weapons are in nice demand, as they work very effectively and other people know use them,” stated a second gun service provider in Kandahar, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he feared the Taliban would shut his store.

The service provider stated he had offered dozens of American-made pistols, rifles, ammunition and two-way radios since opening his store about three months in the past.

A 3rd gun service provider in Kandahar, who requested to not be recognized as a result of the Taliban had warned him to not converse to the information media, stated sellers had offered weapons as massive as anti-aircraft weapons to the Taliban this summer season. Now, he stated, he offered American-made M4s and .50-caliber machine weapons, in addition to weapons manufactured by different nations, together with rocket launchers and Kalashnikov assault rifles.

“The primary selection is American-made, despite the fact that it is a bit more costly than the Russian-made,” the service provider stated. “Gentle weapons akin to weapons and pistols are in nice demand, as they’re straightforward to move and carry.”

Mullah Basir Akhund, a former Taliban commander who lives in Kandahar, stated he helped the militants negotiate surrenders of safety forces within the province. The Taliban usually despatched village elders or different trusted figures to barter surrenders. The collapse of presidency bases left the world awash in American-made weapons, Akhund stated.

“There are a lot of retailers and weapon smugglers roaming Kandahar nowadays,” he stated. “These folks have all the time been there to buy weapons, significantly throughout this type of transitional interval the place it’s straightforward to purchase new weapons.”

He stated he just lately launched a Pakistani arms seller to a gun service provider in Kandahar. He stated the seller informed him he was looking for pistols, rifles, night-vision goggles, ammunition and different US-provided navy gear.

Akhund stated the Pakistani seller sells automobiles from a showroom in Pakistan. However the man’s most profitable enterprise, he stated, facilities on promoting American-made weapons purchased in Afghanistan.

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