The rapid collapse of the Afghan National Army to the Taliban over the past two weeks leaves huge stockpiles of American-made weapons and even some aircraft in the hands of the militant group.
Experts told VICE World News that rapidly falling weapons prices were evidence the captured weapons stocks are being sold on the regional blackmarket.
“Already prices are dropping on the American style M-4 assault rifles and other weapons systems widely distributed to the ANA,” said a Dubai based security researcher studying the question on contract for regional governments, who asked not be named. “The endless stockpiles of weapons seized by the Taliban as they took over the country will end up on regional markets because collectively [Afghanistan] is already awash in light and medium weapons.”
One open-source intelligence weapons identification expert, who tweets as Calibre Obscura, posted multiple videos and pictures of Taliban fighters examining huge stockpiles of captured American gear, while reporting a crash in M-4 prices as each city –and their well-stocked military bases – fell to Taliban fighters.
In July an M-4 would cost $2,400 in Afghanistan, but just a month later as Kabul fell it is now worth $1,500.
The researcher also detailed the expensive, US-supplied thermal scopes equipped by Taliban fighters who appeared in the presidential palace on Sunday.
The ATN MARS-HD 384/640 scope system retails for more than $4,000 in the US and allows accurate thermal targeting in complete darkness.
“The Baluchis are going to love this,” said the Dubai weapons researcher of the rebel Balochistan Liberation Army, which fights Pakistan for the independence of the natural resource-rich province.
“There’s been leakage of American weapons, particularly the longer-barreled M16 assault rifle, into the BLA, they tend to have access to excellent modern equipment stolen from the Americans over the border,” said the researcher from Dubai. “As happy as some in Pakistan might be that their allies in the Taliban have won, they will probably soon regret the stockpiles of arms showing up with the BLA and other jihadi-terror groups.”
Another major concern for the region will be the status of the American supplied Air Force that has completely fallen into the Taliban’s hands. In Mazar Sharif, Taliban fighters could be seen examining UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and an A29 Tucano attack plane. But with those planes relatively complex to operate, the real prize for the Taliban will be the Mi-17 Russian made transport helicopters that have been long operated in the region.
“It’s not sexy but the Taliban want those Mi-17 choppers because they know how to fly and maintain them and know that getting around a country as remote as Afghanistan is the biggest part of being the authority,” said the Dubai-based analyst.