| GEO World|
| US to probe fund flows to Afghan insurgents|
| Updated at: 2138 PST, Tuesday, July 28, 2009|
BRUSSELS: The United States is setting up a task force to investigate how money is reaching insurgents in Afghanistan, much of it from within the Gulf states, a US regional envoy said Tuesday.
"This is a huge problem, and we are forming up a task force to work on this in which Treasury (Department) will take the lead," US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
He said the Pentagon, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other "relevant agencies" would be involved.
While he would not mention any figures, Holbrooke said: "More money is coming from the Gulf than is coming from the drug trade to the Taliban."
NATO and US forces are battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters and their backers in Afghanistan, with substantial income from the illicit opium trade being used to finance their insurgency.
Holbrooke said the money "is coming in from sympathisers all over the world, with the bulk of it appearing to come from the Gulf", although he said there was no evidence that governments were bankrolling the efforts.
"There are a lot of ways that money flows. People carry it in suitcases," he said, after talks here with NATO, EU and Belgian government officials. "Money is probably coming from sympathisers in western Europe as well."
"It's such a daunting issue," he added.
Holbrooke said he believed the fundamentalist Taliban movement was using drug money to fund fighting in the so-called Pashtun belt, but that the wider insurgency effort was being financed from outside.