CIA hired Karzai brother before 9/11, Woodward says
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghanistans president and boss of the
strategically important Kandahar province, has been on the CIA payroll for over a decade,
Bob Woodward writes in his new book, Obamas Wars.
By the fall of 2008, Woodward says, Ahmed Wali Karzai had been on the CIA payroll
for years, beginning before 9/11. He had belonged to the CIA's small network of paid
agents and informants inside Afghanistan. In addition, the CIA paid him money through his
half-brother, the president.
Hamid Karzai was plucked from obscurity and installed as president after U.S.-backed
Afghan forces chased the Taliban from power following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
There have been many accounts
of his brothers relationship with the CIA over the years, leaving the impression
that he is a CIA agent, i.e., a controlled asset of the spy agency.
But Woodwards account of the CIAs relationship with Karzai, who has also
been accused repeatedly -- but not charged with -- protecting the illicit opium trade, is
He was not in any sense a controlled agent who always responded to U.S. and CIA
requests and pressure, Woodward writes. He was his own man, playing all sides
against the others -- the United States, the drug dealers, the Taliban and even his
brother if necessary.
Still, the spymasters in Langley went with him.
It was necessary to employ some thugs if the United States was going to have a
role in a land of thugs, they concluded. Cutting him off might break Wali
Karzais control of the city, and Kandahar might be lost entirely.
Lose Kandahar, they thought, and we possibly lose the war.
Last week NATO and Afghan troops launched a major military offensive around Kandahar
city, with uncertain results.
Woodwards portrait of Ahmed Wali Karzai dovetails in part with an
account provided to SpyTalk last year by Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, a former FBI
agent and ranking Republican on a House panel overseeing terrorism and human intelligence
Rogers, who has regularly visited Afghanistan, where his brother, an Army general, also
served, depicted Ahmed Wali Karzai as someone who "cooperates" with U.S.
intelligence, but is not a controlled agent.
"There's a difference between being an intelligence asset and somebody who
cooperates," said Rogers. "Asset is an overstatement ... He is a public official
who cooperates ... He cooperates when he's talked to -- that's different than an
An American lawyer for Ahmed Wali Karzai rejected the depiction of his client as a paid
CIA asset of any kind.
"It is absolutely false that Ahmad Wali Karzai is, or has been, on the CIA
payroll," said Gerald Posner by e-mail.
"Since 9/11, it should be noted that Ahmad Wali has worked with virtually all
aspects of U.S. and coalition forces, from regular Army, to special forces, to
intelligence personnel, and diplomats as well. ..."
Posner added, "Ahmad Wali would be very surprised if the worlds most
sophisticated intelligence gathering agency, the CIA, had not made contacts with him over
time, but they have never identified themselves as such."
Poser also rejected depictions of Karzai as "the landlord in Kandahar for CIA or
military facilities rented by the United States," as Woodward wrote.
"He is not the owner of those properties, and does not collect rent from those
groups. He has no role in the Kandahar Strike Force. He receives no American taxpayer
monies of any type," Posner said.
CIA spokesman George Little reiterated today that, We dont, as a rule,
comment on these kinds of allegations, which have circulated for a long time.
But a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, praised Karzai's contribution
to the war effort, saying he "has made decisive contributions to counter-terror
efforts in Afghanistan, and hes helped save Afghan and American lives."
"No ones saying hes perfect, but nobodys found anything yet that
would land him in court," the official added. "And Americans have looked.
Afghanistan is a tough place. Its clear that hes focused on improving security
in his country. He deserves praise for that.
Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.
Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the countrys
booming illegal opium
trade, gets regular payments from the Central
Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current
and former American officials.
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Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse
Ahmed Wali Karzai, right, the brother of President Hamid Karzai
of Afghanistan, at a campaign event in Kandahar in August.
The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an
Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.s direction in and around the
southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzais home.
The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and
Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about Americas war strategy, which is currently
under review at the White House.
The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The
critics say the ties complicate Americas increasingly tense relationship with
Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long
been portrayed by the Taliban
as an American puppet. The C.I.A.s practices also suggest that the United States is
not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major
source of revenue for the Taliban.
More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the
most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency
is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that
can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.
If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we
are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves, said Maj.
Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperated with American civilian and
military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from
The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American
officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike
Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one
occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against
an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.
Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops
to rent a large compound outside the city the former home of Mullah Mohammed
Omar, the Talibans founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar
Strike Force. Hes our landlord, a senior American official said,
speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Mr. Karzai also helps the C.I.A. communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal
to the Taliban. Mr. Karzais role as a go-between between the Americans and the
Taliban is now regarded as valuable by those who support working with Mr. Karzai, as the
Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change
A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for this article.
No intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these kind of
allegations, said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.
Some American officials said that the allegations of Mr.
Karzais role in the drug trade were not conclusive.
Theres no proof of Ahmed Wali Karzais involvement in drug
trafficking, certainly nothing that would stand up in court, said one American
official familiar with the intelligence. And you cant ignore what the Afghan
government has done for American counterterrorism efforts.
At the start of the Afghan war, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United
States, American officials paid warlords with questionable backgrounds to help topple the
Taliban and maintain order with relatively few American troops committed to fight in the
country. But as the Taliban has become resurgent and the war has intensified, Americans
have increasingly viewed a strong and credible central government as crucial to turning
back the Talibans advances.
Now, with more American lives on the line, the relationship with Mr. Karzai is setting
off anger and frustration among American military officers and other officials in the
Obama administration. They say that Mr. Karzais suspected role in the drug trade, as
well as what they describe as the mafialike way that he lords over southern Afghanistan,
makes him a malevolent force.
These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial,
suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in
poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the
Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money are flowing through the southern
region, and nothing happens in southern Afghanistan without the regional leadership
knowing about it, a senior American military officer in Kabul said. Like most of the
officials in this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy
of the information.
If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, its probably a duck,
the American officer said of Mr. Karzai. Our assumption is that hes benefiting
from the drug trade.
American officials say that Afghanistans opium trade, the largest in the world,
directly threatens the stability of the Afghan state, by providing a large percentage of
the money the Taliban needs for its operations, and also by corrupting Afghan public
officials to help the trade flourish.
The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the drug lords who are
believed to permeate the highest levels of President Karzais administration. They
have pressed him to move his brother out of southern Afghanistan, but he has so far
refused to do so.
Other Western officials pointed to evidence that Ahmed Wali Karzai orchestrated the
manufacture of hundreds of thousands of phony ballots for his brothers re-election
effort in August. He is also believed to have been responsible for setting up dozens of
so-called ghost polling stations existing only on paper that were used to
manufacture tens of thousands of phony ballots.
The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone, General Flynn
In the interview in which he denied a role in the drug trade or taking money from the
C.I.A., Ahmed Wali Karzai said he received regular payments from his brother, the
president, for expenses, but said he did not know where the money came from.
He has, among other things, introduced Americans to insurgents considering changing sides.
And he has given the Americans intelligence, he said. But he said he was not compensated
for that assistance.
I dont know anyone under the name of the C.I.A., Mr. Karzai said.
I have never received any money from any organization. I help, definitely. I help
other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan.
Mr. Karzai acknowledged that the C.I.A. and Special Operations troops stayed at Mullah
Omars old compound. And he acknowledged that the Kandahar Strike Force was based
there. But he said he had no involvement with them.
A former C.I.A. officer with experience in Afghanistan said the agency relied heavily
on Ahmed Wali Karzai, and often based covert operatives at compounds he owned. Any
connections Mr. Karzai might have had to the drug trade mattered little to C.I.A. officers
focused on counterterrorism missions, the officer said.
Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,
he said. If you are looking for Mother
Teresa, she doesnt live in Afghanistan.
The debate over Ahmed Wali Karzai, which began when President
Obama took office in January, intensified in June, when the C.I.A.s local
paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, shot and killed Kandahars provincial
police chief, Matiullah Qati, in a still-unexplained
shootout at the office of a local prosecutor.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Qatis death remain shrouded in mystery. It is
unclear, for instance, if any agency operatives were present but officials say the
firefight broke out when Mr. Qati tried to block the strike force from freeing the brother
of a task force member who was being held in custody.
Matiullah was in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mr. Karzai said in the
Counternarcotics officials have repeatedly expressed frustration over the unwillingness
of senior policy makers in Washington to take action against Mr. Karzai or even
begin a serious investigation of the allegations against him. In fact, they say that while
other Afghans accused of drug involvement are investigated and singled out for raids or
even rendition to the United States, Mr. Karzai has seemed immune from similar scrutiny.
For years, first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have said
that the Taliban benefits from the drug trade, and the United States military has recently
expanded its target list to include drug traffickers with ties to the insurgency. The
military has generated a list of 50 top drug traffickers tied to the Taliban who can now
be killed or captured.
Senior Afghan investigators say they know plenty about Mr. Karzais involvement in
the drug business. In an interview in Kabul this year, a top former Afghan Interior
Ministry official familiar with Afghan counternarcotics operations said that a major
source of Mr. Karzais influence over the drug trade was his control over key bridges
crossing the Helmand River on the route between the opium growing regions of Helmand
Province and Kandahar.
The former Interior Ministry official said that Mr. Karzai was able to charge huge fees
to drug traffickers to allow their drug-laden trucks to cross the bridges.
But the former officials said it was impossible for Afghan counternarcotics officials
to investigate Mr. Karzai. This government has become a factory for the production
of Talibs because of corruption and injustice, the former official said.
Some American counternarcotics officials have said they believe that Mr. Karzai has
expanded his influence over the drug trade, thanks in part to American efforts to single
out other drug lords.
In debriefing notes from Drug
Enforcement Administration interviews in 2006 of Afghan informants obtained by The New
York Times, one key informant said that Ahmed Wali Karzai had benefited from the American
operation that lured Hajji Bashir Noorzai, a major Afghan drug lord during the time that
the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, to New York in 2005. Mr. Noorzai was convicted on drug and
conspiracy charges in New York in 2008, and was sentenced to life in prison this year.
Habibullah Jan, a local military commander and later a member of Parliament from
Kandahar, told the D.E.A. in 2006 that Mr. Karzai had teamed with Haji Juma Khan to take
over a portion of the Noorzai drug business after Mr. Noorzais arrest. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html?_r=2
"To Achieve World
Government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism,
their loyalty to family traditions and national identification" Brock Chisholm - Director of the World Health Organization
"A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to
believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a
reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police
State Dictatorship it's going to
get." Ian Williams Goddard
The fact is that "political
correctness" is all about creating uniformity. Individualism is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of
the New World Order. They want a
public that is predictable and conditioned to do as it's told without asking questions.
"The two enemies of the people are criminals
and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the
second will not become the legalized version of the first." Thomas Jefferson