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Reports link Karzai's brother to heroin trade

By enquirewithin, Nov 17, 2008 | Updated: Nov 20, 2008 | | |
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  1. enquirewithin
    When Afghan security forces found an enormous cache of heroin hidden beneath concrete blocks in a tractor-trailer outside Kandahar in 2004, the local Afghan commander quickly impounded the truck and notified his boss. Before long, the commander, Habibullah Jan, received a telephone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, asking him to release the vehicle and the drugs, Jan later told American investigators, according to notes from the debriefing obtained by The New York Times. He said he complied after getting a phone call from an aide to President Karzai directing him to release the truck.

    Two years later, American and Afghan counternarcotics forces stopped another truck, this time near Kabul, finding more than 110 pounds of heroin. Soon after the seizure, United States 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.

    Both President Karzai and Ahmed Wali Karzai, now the chief of the Kandahar Provincial Council, the governing body for the region that includes Afghanistan's second largest city, dismiss the allegations as politically motivated attacks by longtime foes.

    "I am not a drug dealer, I never was and I never will be," the president's brother said in a recent phone interview. "I am a victim of vicious politics."
    But the assertions about him have deeply worried top American officials in Kabul and in Washington. The United States officials fear that perceptions that the Afghan president might be protecting his brother are damaging his credibility and undermining efforts by the United States to buttress his government, which has been under siege from rivals and a Taliban insurgency fueled by drug money, several senior Bush administration officials said. Their concerns have intensified as American troops have been deployed to the country in growing numbers.

    "What appears to be a fairly common Afghan public perception of corruption inside their government is a tremendously corrosive element working against establishing long-term confidence in that government — a very serious matter," said Lieutenant General David Barno, who was commander of coalition military forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005 and is now retired. "That could be problematic strategically for the United States."

    The White House says it believes that Ahmed Wali Karzai is involved in drug trafficking, and American officials have repeatedly warned President Karzai that his brother is a political liability, two senior Bush administration officials said in interviews last week.

    Numerous reports link Ahmed Wali Karzai to the drug trade, according to current and former officials from the White House, the State Department and the United States Embassy in Afghanistan, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity. In meetings with President Karzai, including a 2006 session with the United States ambassador, the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief and their British counterparts, American officials have talked about the allegations in hopes that the president might move his brother out of the country, said several people who took part in or were briefed on the talks.

    "We thought the concern expressed to Karzai might be enough to get him out of there," one official said. But President Karzai has resisted, demanding clear-cut evidence of wrongdoing, several officials said. "We don't have the kind of hard, direct evidence that you could take to get a criminal indictment," a White House official said. "That allows Karzai to say, where's your proof?"

    Neither the Drug Enforcement Administration, which conducts counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, nor the fledgling Afghan anti-drug agency has pursued investigations into the accusations against the president's brother.

    Several American investigators said senior officials at the DEA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence complained to them that the White House favored a hands-off approach toward Ahmed Wali Karzai because of the political delicacy of the matter. But White House officials dispute that, instead citing limited DEA resources in Kandahar and southern Afghanistan and the absence of political will in the Afghan government to go after major drug suspects as the reasons for the lack of an inquiry.

    "We invested considerable resources into building Afghan capability to conduct such investigations and consistently encouraged Karzai to take on the big fish and address widespread Afghan suspicions about the link between his brother and narcotics," said Meghan O'Sullivan, who was the coordinator for Afghanistan and Iraq at the National Security Council until last year.

    Humayun Hamidzada, press secretary for President Karzai, denied that the president's brother was involved in drug trafficking or that the president had intervened to help him. "People have made allegations without proof," Hamidzada said.
    Spokesmen for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

    The concerns about Ahmed Wali Karzai 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.
    The informant, Hajji Aman Kheri, 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 United States intelligence agencies, an assertion confirmed by American counternarcotics 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 United States 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.

    Just as the Taliban have benefited from money produced by the drug trade, so have many officials in the Karzai government, according to American and Afghan officials. Thomas Schweich, a former senior State Department counternarcotics official, wrote in The New York Times Magazine in July that drug traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials. "Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government," he said.

    Of the suspicions about Ahmed Wali Karzai, Representative Mark Steven Kirk, an Illinois Republican who has focused on the Afghan drug problem in Congress, said, "I would ask people in the Bush administration and the DEA about him, and they would say, 'We think he's dirty.' "
    In the two drug seizures in 2004 and 2006, millions of dollars' worth of heroin was found. In April 2006, Jan, by then a member of the Afghan Parliament, met with American investigators at a DEA safe house in Kabul and was asked to describe the events surrounding the 2004 drug discovery, according to notes from the debriefing session. He told the Americans that after impounding the truck, he received calls from Ahmed Wali Karzai and Shaida Mohammad, an aide to President Karzai, according to the notes.

    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.
    Mohammad, in a recent interview in Washington, dismissed Jan's account, saying that Jan had fabricated the story about being pressured to release the drug shipment in order to damage President Karzai.

    But Khan Mohammad, the former Afghan commander in Kandahar who was Jan's superior in 2004, said in a recent interview that Jan reported at the time that he had received a call from the Karzai aide ordering him to release the drug cache. Khan Mohammad recalled that Jan believed that the call had been instigated by Ahmed Wali Karzai, not the president.

    "This was a very heavy issue," Mohammad said. He provided the same account in an October 2004 interview with The Christian Science Monitor. Mohammad said that after a subordinate captured a large shipment of heroin about two months earlier, the official received repeated telephone calls from Ahmed Wali Karzai. "He was saying, 'This heroin belongs to me, you should release it,' " the newspaper quoted Mohammad as saying.

    In 2006, Kheri, the Afghan informant, tipped off American counternarcotics agents to another drug shipment. Kheri, who had proved so valuable to the United States that his family had been resettled in Virginia in 2004, briefly returned to Afghanistan in 2006.

    The heroin in the truck that was seized was to be delivered to Ahmed Wali Karzai's bodyguard in the village of Maidan Shahr, and then transported to Kandahar, one of the Afghans involved in the deal later told American investigators, according to notes of his debriefing. Several Afghans — the drivers and the truck's owner — were arrested by Afghan authorities, but no action was taken against Karzai or his bodyguard, who investigators believe serves as a middleman, the American officials said.

    In 2007, Kheri visited Afghanistan again, once again serving as an American informant, the officials said. This time, however, he was arrested by the Karzai government and charged in the 2002 assassination of Hajji Abdul Qadir, an Afghan vice president, who had been a political rival of Kheri's brother, Hajji Zaman, a former militia commander and a powerful figure in eastern Afghanistan.

    Kheri, in the phone interview from Kabul, denied any involvement in the killing and said his arrest was politically motivated. He maintained that the president's brother was involved in the heroin trade.

    "It's no secret about Wali Karzai and drugs," said Kheri, who speaks English. "A lot of people in the Afghan government are involved in drug trafficking."
    Kheri's continued detention, despite the Afghan court's order to release him, has frustrated some of the American investigators who worked with him.
    In recent months, they have met with officials at the State Department and the office of the Director of National Intelligence seeking to persuade the Bush administration to intervene with the Karzai government to release Kheri.
    "We have just left a really valuable informant sitting in jail to rot," one investigator said.

    by James Rosen Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/04/asia/05afghan.php?page=3

Comments

  1. MiMoMo
    Afghan heroin & the CIA
    [​IMG]
    1. Executive Summary
    2. The Anglo-Americans and the Origins of the Taliban
    3. Anglo-American Involvement in the Afghan Opium Trade
    4. The British and the Taliban
    5. Who Profits from the Drug Trade?
    6. Endnotes

    1. Executive Summary

    This report is about American and British involvement in the Afghan drug trade in opium, focusing on the history of such involvement, and the nature of the drug trade since the 2001 occupation of Afghanistan. Today, Afghanistan supplies “more than 90 per cent of the world's illicit opium, from which heroin is made,”[1] so who’s profiting from the trade?

    2. The Anglo-Americans and the Origins of the Taliban

    The CIA Creates Al-Qaeda

    In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, said in an interview with a French publication, Le Nouvel Observateur, that the US intervention in the Afghan-Soviet war did not begin in the 1980s, but that, “it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul,” which precipitated the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan.[2] From the Soviet invasion, a bloody ten-year war followed.

    Amazingly, “Before 1979 Pakistan and Afghanistan exported very little heroin to the West,”[3] but by 1981, “trucks from the Pakistan army’s National Logistics Cell arriving with CIA arms from Karachi often returned loaded with heroin – protected by ISI [Pakistan’s internal security service] papers freeing them from police search.”[4] This change occurred in 1981 when then CIA Director William Casey, Prince Turki bin Faisal of Saudi intelligence and the ISI worked together to create a foreign legion of jihadi Muslims or so-called Arab Afghans. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992 in camps overseen by the CIA and [British] MI6. The SAS [British special forces] trained future Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts" while their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia.[5] Further, “CIA aid was funneled through [Pakistani President] General Zia and the ISI in Pakistan.”[6]

    Creating the Taliban

    In the mid-1990s, an obscure group of “Pashtun country folk” had become a powerful military and political force in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban.[7] During that same time the Taliban acquired contacts with the ISI,[8] often referred to as Pakistan’s “shadow government.” In 1995, the ISI was actively aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan’s civil war against the warlords that controlled the country.[9] In addition, just as in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the previous decade, the ISI looked to Saudi intelligence to provide the funding for the Taliban, and the ties between the ISI and Saudi intelligence grew much closer.[10] The Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan was also aided by the CIA, which worked with the Pakistani ISI.[11]

    A few years after the Taliban came to power they began a campaign to eradicate Afghanistan’s opium crops, and “The success of Afghanistan’s 2000 drug eradication program under the Taliban government was recognized by the United Nations” as a monumental feat, in that “no other country was able to implement a comparable program.”[12] In October of 2001, the UN acknowledged that the Taliban reduced opium production in Afghanistan from 3300 tons in 2000 to 185 tons in 2001.[13]

    In June of 2001, a few months before 9/11, it was reported that a “recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan” was announced “by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, [which] made the United States the main sponsor of the Taliban.”[14]

    3. Anglo-American Involvement in the Afghan Opium Trade

    The World’s #1 Narco-State

    Drug trafficking is the largest global commodity in profits after the oil and arms trade, consequently, “immediately following the October 2001 invasion opium markets were restored. Opium prices spiraled. By early 2002, the domestic price of opium in Afghanistan (in dollars/kg) was almost 10 times higher than in 2000.”[15] The Anglo-American invasion of Afghanistan successfully restored the drug trade. The Guardian recently reported that, “In 2007 Afghanistan had more land growing drugs than Colombia, Bolivia and Peru combined.”[16]

    The British

    In 2005 it was reported by the Independent that Afghanistan’s Interior Minister had resigned, “amid reports he had quit because of the involvement of senior government officials in the illegal drug trade.” He had "been outspoken over the involvement of officials in the drug trade and is believed to have had differences with President Karzai over the appointment of Provincial officials.”[17] In 2006, the Independent reported that, “British intelligence officers and military commanders accused the US of undermining British policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, after the sacking of a key British ally in the Afghan province of Helmand.” The British “blamed pressure from the CIA for President Hamid Karzai's decision to dismiss Mohammed Daud as governor of Helmand.” Mr. Daud “had survived several Taliban assassination attempts, was seen as a key player in Britain's anti-drugs campaign in Helmand,” and was fired after Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s President, “listened to advice from ‘other powerful Western players’.”[18]

    Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, wrote in a 2007 article in the UK Daily Mail, that what has been achieved in Afghanistan is “the highest harvests of opium the world has ever seen.”[19] Murray elaborated that, “Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and 'value-added' operations.” This means that Afghanistan “now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with NATO troops.” Murray explains that this was able to happen because “the four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government.” Murray stated that, “Our only real achievement to date is falling street prices for heroin in London.”[20]

    The Americans

    In 2002, former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India wrote that, in regard to the failure to combat the rise in opium production, “this marked lack of success in the heroin front is due to the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA, which encouraged these heroin barons during the Afghan war of the 1980s in order to spread heroin-addiction amongst the Soviet troops, is now using them in its search for bin Laden and other surviving leaders of the Al Qaeda.”[21]

    The Hindu reported in 2008 that, “90 per cent of the heroin sold in Russia comes from Afghanistan,” and Putin was quoted as saying, “Unfortunately, they (NATO) are doing nothing to reduce the narcotic threat from Afghanistan even a tiny bit,” and that the coalition forces were “sitting back and watching caravans haul drugs across Afghanistan to the former Soviet Union and Europe.” The article then reported that, “according to unconfirmed reports the U.S. military transport aviation is used for the delivery of drugs from Afghanistan to the American airbases, Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey,” and that, “It has been reported earlier that the CIA is involved in Afghanistan’s opium production, or is at least protecting it.” One Russian journalist quoted anonymous Afghan officials as saying, “85 per cent of all drugs produced in southern and southeastern provinces are shipped abroad by U.S. aviation.”[22]

    4. The British and the Taliban

    Training the Taliban

    The Independent reported in 2008 that “Britain planned to build a Taliban training camp for 2,000 fighters in southern Afghanistan, as part of a top-secret deal to make them swap sides. The plans were discovered on a memory stick seized by Afghan secret police in December.” Further, “The camp would provide military training for 1,800 ordinary Taliban fighters and 200 low-level commanders.”[23]

    The article explained that, “the Afghans feared the British were training a militia with no loyalty to the central government. Intercepted Taliban communications suggested they thought the British were trying to help them.” The article further reported that, the program was bankrolled by the British,” and that, “the memory stick revealed that $125,000 (£64,000) had been spent on preparing the camp and a further $200,000 was earmarked to run it in 2008,” which “sparked allegations that British agents were paying the Taliban.” Further, “the Afghan government took issue with plans to provide military training to turn the insurgents into a defence force.” On top of that, “the memory stick revealed plans to train the Taliban to use secure satellite phones, so they could communicate directly with UK officials.” “Officially, the British embassy remains tight-lipped, fuelling speculation that the plan may have been part of a wider clandestine operation.”[24]

    5. Who Profits from the Drug Trade?

    Wall Street and Big Banks

    Michel Chossudovsky describes the heroin trade as a “hierarchy of prices,” with the drug’s street price, (what it is sold for in largely Western cities around the world), is 80 to 100 times the price paid to the farmers who cultivate it in Afghanistan.[25] The IMF reported that in the late 1990s, money laundering accounted for 2-5% of the world’s GDP, and that a large percentage of the 590 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars in annual money laundering is “directly linked to the trade in narcotics.” This lucrative trade in narcotics produces profits which are “laundered in the numerous offshore banking havens in Switzerland, Luxembourg, the British Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands and some 50 other locations around the globe.” These offshore havens “are controlled by major Western banks and financial institutions” which “have a vested interest in maintaining and sustaining the drug trade.”[26]

    An example of the interest of Wall Street and London bankers in the international drug trade, we can look to Columbia and the FARC rebel group. In “1999, NYSE [New York Stock Exchange] Chairman Dick Grasso traveled to Columbia and met with the leader of the FARC rebels controlling the southern third of the country.” “Grasso had asked the Columbian rebels to invest their profits in Wall Street.”[27] The Associated Press reported that Grasso told the rebel leader to, “make peace and expect great economic benefits from global investors,” and invited the rebel leader to visit Wall Street.[28] To allow for drug investment in Western financial institutions, “major banks like Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and JPMorgan Chase all offer private client services for the very wealthy with very few questions asked.”[29]

    6. Endnotes

    [1] Stephen Fidler, UN alarm at spread of Afghan opium. Financial Times: March 4, 2008: http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto030420081933091960

    [2] Bill Blum (translator). The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan. Global Research: October 15, 2001: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

    [3-4] Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of North America. University of California Press: 2007, page 124

    [5] Peter Dale Scott, Ibid, page 122-23

    [6] Peter Dale Scott, Ibid, page 123

    [7] Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Books, New York, 2004: Page 328

    [8] Steve Coll, Ibid, page 293

    [9] Steve Coll, Ibid, pages 293-294

    [10] Steve Coll, Ibid, pages 295-296

    [11] Times of India, CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban. Times of India Online: March 7, 2001: http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

    [12] Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, 2nd ed. Center for Research on Globalization: Québec, 2005: Page 226

    [13] Michel Chossudovsky, Ibid, page 227

    [14] Robert Scheer, Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban. The Nation: June 4, 2001: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20010604/20010522

    [15] Michel Chossudovsky, Op cit, page 228

    [16] Patrick Wintour, Opium economy will take 20 years and £1bn to remove. The Guardian: February 6, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/06/afghanistan.politics

    [17] Justin Huggler, Afghan minister quits over opium trade. The Independent: September 28, 2005: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghan
    -minister-quits-over-opium-trade-508664.html

    [18] Robert Fox, CIA is undermining British war effort, say military chiefs. The Independent: December 10, 2006: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/cia-is-undermining-
    british-war-effort-say-military-chiefs-427848.html

    [19-20] Craig Murray, Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time. UK Daily Mail: July 21, 2007: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_
    id=469983&in_page_id=1770&in_page_id=1770&expand=true

    [21] B. Raman, Assassination of Jaki Abdul Qadeer in Kabul. South Asia Analysis Group: Paper no. 489, August 7, 2002: http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers5/paper489.html

    [22] Vladimir Radyuhin, Russia: victim of narco-aggression. The Hindu: February 4, 2008: http://www.hindu.com/2008/02/04/stories/2008020453271000.htm

    [23-24] Jerome Starkey, Revealed: British plan to build training camp for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The Independent: February 4, 2008: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/revealed-british-plan-to-build
    -training-camp-for-taliban-fighters-in-afghanistan-777671.html

    [25] Michel Chossudovsky, Op cit, page 230

    [26] Michel Chossudovsky, Ibid, page 233

    [27] Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. New Society Publishers: Canada, 2004: Page 57

    [28] CBS MarketWatch, NYSE's Grasso met with Colombia's FARC. AP: June 29, 1999: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/-nyses-grasso-met-colombias/
    story.aspx?guid=%7B571A6F96-E694-4D58-A7A9-F5DBFF132F4A%7D

    [29] Michael C. Ruppert, Op cit, page 61

    Andrew G. Marshall - Apr 01, 08 05:22 PM
    GeopoliticalMonitor.com
    http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/backgrounders/2008-04-01/afghan-heroin-the-cia/
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