Our country spent $89 billion dollars on contractors in Afghanistan for over eight years. However, some of those funds have not been used for their intended purpose. Devastated war zones like some areas of Afghanistan and Iraq have been fertile terrain for corrupt contractors to emerge.
Servicemen and women who are risking their lives on the field expect our nation to protect them. When U.S. money ends up in the hands of the Taliban and other terrorists, our country is failing. Thanks to several courageous whistleblowers, we now know that corrupt contractors have often hired Taliban guards, causing the U.S. to fund the enemy indirectly. The whistleblowers have filed several lawsuits, and multimillion-dollar rewards will likely follow.
A House Committee report described transportation contractors in Afghanistan as “a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” When these corrupt contractors pay the Taliban to ensure safe passage through dangerous areas, they are putting money in the enemy’s pockets. In fact, U.S. funding has been directly linked to various deadly terrorist attacks.
Individuals with information about fraudulent military contracts involving Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other territories can sue fraudsters on behalf of U.S. taxpayers under the False Claims Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act. Whistleblowers need to help expose this type of misconduct and ensure that our government stops unknowingly funding terrorism and putting American troops at risk.
The Anti-Terrorism Act
The Anti-Terrorism Act provides that it is illegal to offer any kind of material support to terrorists. For some defense contractors, however, paying terrorists for protection is just part of their everyday business in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. Under U.S. legislation,
the existence of such payments makes the whole military contracts illegal.
Brian Mahany, the author of the Due Diligence blog (a go-to site for whistleblowers), explains, “The Anti-Terrorism Act prohibits providing funding for known terrorist organizations including the Taliban. We believe the millions of dollars paid to the Taliban resulted in the deaths and injuries to countless service members and American civilians working in Afghanistan.”
If any aspect of a military contract is not in compliance with the Anti-terrorism Act, any claims for payment the contractor has submitted to the U.S. government constitute false claims and can be grounds for a False Claims Act (“FCA”) lawsuit.
The U.S. often imposes sanctions on countries that fund and shield terrorists. But the purpose of these sanctions is defeated when money paid to contractors is funneled through accounts controlled by terrorist groups.
The Anti-Terrorism Act defines material support as “any property, tangible or intangible, or service,” including money, financial services, lodging, false documentation, weapons, communications, transportation, personnel, etc. The law further provides that it is illegal to offer material support to individuals who commit, advocate, facilitate, or participate in terrorist attacks.
How The U.S. Financed the Taliban
Between 2007 and 2012, Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan national, earned $67 million in U.S. defense contracts. Last year, he was sued over Anti-Terrorism Act violations and had to pay back $25 million.
Besides overcharging the U.S. military for logistics and transportation services provided in Afghanistan, prosecutors found that Shadman had transferred funds to a well-known Taliban “money mover.” The funds controlled by the Taliban man were linked to at least one suicide bomber attack.
This is outrageous but common. Shadman’s case exposed the high-ranking officials who conspired with the corrupt contractor, received bribes, or simply turned a blind eye. On numerous occasions, officials recommended contracting with Shadman, even when his competitors offered better pricing and higher quality services.
These officers were likely aware that Shadman and others were funding the enemy. Scott Lindsay, of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, expressed shock at this state of things, when he said, “If you have to pay your enemy for the right to be there, something’s gone wrong.”
In fact, the U.S. has known for a very long time that taxpayer money was being used to fund terrorists. In 2010, a government report concluded that of a total of $31 billion that the U.S. had paid to contractors in Afghanistan, at least $360 million had ended up in the pockets of corrupt officials, terrorists, and other criminals.
The only way to steer taxpayer funds away from the financing of terrorism is to sue corrupt officials and contractors on behalf of the American public. Anyone with information about contracts that may have violated the Anti-Terrorism Act has a duty to come forward. By contacting a whistleblower attorney, military personnel can ensure their identity will be kept confidential during the investigation.
Whistleblowers are also protected from retaliation under the False Claims Act. A seasoned military whistleblower attorney can maximize compensation and minimize the risks associated with exposing fraudsters. Under the FCA, whistleblowers can receive up to 30 percent of the total recoveries in the event of a favorable settlement or verdict.
Have you witnessed fraud in military contracts or other positions within the military? Contact our veteran’s disability whistleblower attorneys. Contact us today at 888.878.9350 or Use This Online Form.