Hamid Karzai's brother 'on CIA payroll'
Jeremy Page in Kabulhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/6448452/More-than-one-in-10-people-on-DNA-database-for-first-time.html
Ahmad Wali Karzai
President Karzai’s younger half brother, long accused of links to the drugs trade, was embroiled in fresh controversy today after the New York Times reported that he had been on the CIA’s payroll for the last eight years.
Ahmad Wali Karzai had been paid by the agency for services including arranging contacts with the Taleban, and helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force in the southern city of Kandahar where he lives, the newspaper said.
He was also paid for allowing the CIA, U.S. special forces and the local militia, called the Kandahar Strike Force, to use a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Omar, the Taleban’s founder, it said.
“He’s our landlord,” it quoted a senior American official as saying. A CIA spokesman refused to confirm or deny the claims which are highly embarrassing for both President Karzai and the U.S. government.
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Ahmad Wali, who heads the Kandahar provincial council, confirmed that the CIA, U.S. special forces and the local militia used the compound, but denied receiving payment from the CIA, or having any involvement in the drugs trade.
He admitted, however, that he received money for “expenses” from his brother, the President, saying he did not know where the funds came from originally.
The report is damaging to Mr Karzai as the Taleban and other critics often accuse him of being an American puppet and allowing Ahmad Wali to run Kandahar like a personal fiefdom.
However, it is also embarrassing for the U.S. government as it appears to expose a fundamental disagreement on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, which is now under review by the White House.
The CIA has long favoured cooperating with local strongmen -- many of whom it helped to fight the Soviets -- regardless of their alleged role in war crimes or the drugs trade. It sees some as potential middlemen in negotations with the Taleban.
The State Department, however, has long argued that propping up such alleged criminals fosters corruption throughout the Afghan government, undermining President Karzai’s credibility and international efforts to build democracy.
Western diplomats and counter-narcotics officials have repeatedly held up Ahmad Wali as a prime example, accusing him of involvement in the drugs trade, and even asking President Karzai to dismiss him.
Ronald Neumann, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul in 2006-2007, advised Mr Karzai to remove Ahmad Wali, calling him a “political embarrassment” and suggesting that he be sent overseas as an ambassador, diplomatic sources have told The Times.
Mr Karzai responded by calling a meeting with Mr Neumann, the British Ambassador and the CIA and MI6 station chiefs and asking them if they had any hard evidence against his half brother.
They had to say “no”, and the issue was dropped, but it has flared up periodically since then and continues to undermine the international community’s faith in President Karzai.
Western counter-narcotics officials say they still have insufficient evidence to prove that Ahmad Wali is involved in the drugs trade, but they believe he controls most business, as well as the roads, around Kandahar -- a major hub for opium trafficking.
In late 2007, Habibullah Jan, a powerful tribal chief and member of parliament from Kandahar, became the first person to accuse Wali directly in parliament of involvement in the drugs trade.
Ahmad Wali, 48, has also admitted living in a heavily fortified three-storey mansion house belonging to Haji Azizullah, a notorious drugs trafficker from Helmand province.
Azizullah has been on the US Treasury's list of Specially Designated Nationals, with whom US citizens are banned from doing business, since June 2007 because of his involvement in the drugs trade.
Ahmad Wali has told The Times he had no idea about his landlord's connection to the drugs trade when he moved there in 2001. He said last year his salary was 17,000 Afghanis (£175) a month and, while he had other sources of income, he did not want to discuss them.