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Millions in Taliban Taxes Show Who’s in Charge as U.S. Departs

  • Militant group threatens to bomb businesses that don’t pay up
  • Taliban could share power in U.S.-brokered peace agreement
Taliban delegation members attend peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha in 2020.

Taliban delegation members attend peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha in 2020.

Photographer: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
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Running a business in Afghanistan has one unspoken rule: Pay the Taliban.

Abdul Ahad Wahidi learned that the hard way when insurgents blew up a gas pipeline last year that fuels the country’s only fertilizer plant after its operator refused to pay up. Now he and other workers at the factory fork over 14% of their wages to the Taliban -- nearly five times more than they pay the government in taxes.