Weapons in Afghanistan: The Taliban’s Spoils of War

Tanya Mehra LL.M, Méryl Demuynck, Matthew Wentworth 7 Feb 2022

Keywords: SALW, terrorist groups, weapons, Taliban, ISK-P, Afghanistan, financing, arms control

Following the announcement of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly seized control of the country. The seemingly rushed and chaotic nature of the US’ withdrawal also allowed the Taliban to seize large quantities of small arms and light weapons (SALW) left behind. This policy brief explores the purposes for which the Taliban use these newly acquired ‘spoils of war’, ranging from fighting rival group ISK-P and controlling territory to financing their activities and propaganda purposes. It finally provides recommendations on how to contain the flow of SALW in and out of Afghanistan, and draw lessons on how to better manage future withdrawal of international troops in other countries.

Related readings:

Mehra, T. and Wentworth, M. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Regional Responses and Security Threats. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 27 August 2021.

Mehra, T., Demuynck, M., Clarke, C.P., Duquet, N., Lumley, C. and Wentworth, M. Cashing in on Guns: Identifying the Nexus between Small Arms, Light Weapons and Terrorist Financing. Report, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 24 March 2021.

Clarke, C.P. Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Trafficking, Smuggling, and Use for Criminality by Terrorists and Insurgents: A Brief Historical Overview. Report, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 15 July 2020.

Mehra, T. and Coleman, J. The Fall of Afghanistan: A Blow to Counter-Terrorism and Rule of Law Efforts. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 23 August 2021.