Afghan Prez’s brother Ahmed Karzai’s links to drugs trade not probed: NYT

Afghan President Hamid KarzaiWashington, Oct 5 : On several occasions over the past four years, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai has been found involved in drugs trade, but no action has been taken against him yet. Even US’ requests have proved to have fallen on deaf ears of the Afghan President, said a detailed report in New York Times.

Even the President rubbished the reports saying that they were substantiated with any concrete proof.

The concerns about Ahmed Wali Karzai’s drug involvement have surfaced recently because of the imprisonment of an informant who tipped off American and Afghan investigators to the drug-filled truck outside Kabul in 2006.

According to the report, first time in 2004, when a huge cache of drugs was seized at outside Kandahar by Afghan commander Habibullah Jan, Ahmed Karzai called up the commander to release the truck. The vehicle was released, but Jan passed on the information to the US security forces, say notes from the debriefing obtained by The New York Times.

Jan later became a political opponent of President Karzai, and in a 2007 speech in Parliament he accused Ahmed Wali Karzai of involvement in the drug trade. Jan was shot to death in July as he drove from a guesthouse to his main residence in Kandahar Province. The Taliban were suspected in the assassination, added the paper.

Two years later, American and Afghan counter-narcotics forces stopped another truck, this time near Kabul, finding more than 110 pounds of heroin. Soon after the seizure, US investigators told other American officials that they had discovered links between the drug shipment and a bodyguard believed to be an intermediary for Ahmed Wali Karzai, according to a participant in the briefing.

The assertions about the involvement of the President’s brother in the incidents were never investigated, according to American and Afghan officials, even though allegations that he has benefited from narcotics trafficking have circulated widely in Afghanistan, said the paper.

Hajji Aman Kheri, the informant who had tipped off the Americans about the drugs haul in 2006, was arrested a year later on charges of plotting to kill an Afghan Vice-President in 2002. The Afghan Supreme Court recently ordered him freed for lack of evidence, but he has not been released. Nearly 100 political leaders in his home region protested his continued incarceration last month.

Kheri, in a phone interview from jail in Kabul, said he had been an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and US intelligence agencies, an assertion confirmed by American counter-narcotics and intelligence officials. Several of those officials, frustrated that the Bush administration was not pressing for Kheri’s release, came forward to disclose his role in the drug seizure.

Ever since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, critics have charged that the Bush administration has failed to take aggressive action against the Afghan narcotics trade, because of both opposition from the Karzai government and reluctance by the US military to get bogged down by eradication and interdiction efforts that would antagonize local warlords and Afghan poppy farmers. Now, Afghanistan provides about 95 percent of the world’s supply of heroin, added the paper. (ANI)