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UN: Taliban Enhances Links to Organized Crime in Afghanistan

Afghan former Taliban fighters are photographed holding weapons before they hand them over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad, Feb. 8, 2015.

The United Nations Tuesday said the Taliban’s involvement in criminal activity appears to have increased in Afghanistan, warning the trend has consequences for peace and security in the war-shattered country.

A new study conducted by a U.N. Security Council Committee indicates the scale and depth of this criminal activity is new, and builds on decades of interaction between the Taliban and others involved in criminal behavior, including narcotics trafficking, illicit mining, collusion with mafias and kidnapping for ransom.

An official statement released from New York says the U.N. Committee has examined specific cases of cooperation between organized crime syndicates, notably by groups involved in kidnapping for ransom, in the production of and trade in narcotics and in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Afghanistan.

It says that at times, the Islamist insurgency has attempted to generate resources directly by acting as a criminal body.

"This trend has consequences for peace and security in Afghanistan, as it encourages those within the Taliban movement who have the greatest economic incentives to oppose any meaningful process of reconciliation with the new [Afghan] Government," the report said.

The Taliban has so far not commented on the report.