October 28th, 2009
05:07 PM ET

Karzai's problem brother: Drugs, spies and controversy

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, here in the photo, has long been considered by his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai to be an American puppet.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, here in the photo, has long been considered by his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai to be an American puppet.

Aryn Baker

The claim that Ahmed Wali Karzai has been on the payroll of the CIA for the past eight years, as reported in the New York Times on Tuesday, won't come as a surprise to most Afghans, who have long considered his brother, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to be an American puppet. The revamped allegations that Karzai frère is deeply involved in Afghanistan's annual $4 billion drug industry isn't much of a shocker either — on the streets of Kabul and Kandahar, the name Wali has long been synonymous with someone who can get away with a crime because he has friends in the right places. Diplomats, counternarcotics officials and commanders from the International Security Assistance Force, NATO's military wing in Afghanistan, have all privately (and not so privately) expressed frustration with President Karzai for not reining in his brother. In fact, the people most likely to be shocked by the revelations are Americans back at home, who are already wondering why they should be sending more soldiers and money to a country whose leadership has rarely proved an adequate partner.

That the CIA might turn a blind eye to the unsavory extracurricular activities of a local asset isn't exactly new. It's emblematic of the often shady compromises that are conducted on a daily basis around the globe in the name of increased American security. (If you think the U.S. is only talking to "good" guys to get information about al-Qaeda, think again — men with clean hands rarely truck with those without.) But if the Times' charges are true, the revelations that Wali Karzai is a major drug trafficker who has been protected not just by his brother, but also by CIA operatives establish a chain of causality between the efforts of U.S. intelligence to obtain information and influence and drug monies that pay for an insurgency that has taken 53 American lives this month — the highest death toll ever for Americans in Afghanistan. Karzai denied both allegations, telling the Associated Press that the paper's report was "ridiculous."


Filed under: Afghanistan
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Catherine Berryhill

    I am shocked. Don't trust anyone....May God help us, please.

    October 29, 2009 at 1:11 am |
  2. Terry

    Honestly, we need to make a decition, about Afghanistan now,we are wasting time and soldiers. Im an ex serviceman Ive been deployed twice to the middle east , once to Afghanistan and I can tell you if we dont act now, six months from now we wont be in Afganistan. But dont take my word for it ask Micheal Ware.

    October 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  3. A. Smith

    Yet another example of the CIA being hip-deep in involvement with flooding the world with Heroin.

    Where is the utter disgust, where is the utter outrage? American taxpayer dollars being used by the CIA to promote and flood the world with Heroin which is destroying countless lives and spreading HIV.

    Is this the reason the CIA was originally created? Does the CIA actually have orders from the Obama White-house to help facilitate the smuggling of Opium out of Afghanistan?

    Does the CIA actually in any conceptional manner, promote America's democracy, interests and values world-wide?

    Its time for the American People to rise up and demand that America put down the CIA Agency like a mad dog. Its time to do away with the CIA which has destroyed the trust, harmony and democracy's of countless countries during its 60 year lifespan.

    A. Smith

    October 28, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  4. Sharon,Daniel Island, South Carolina

    so drug dealers wear bling all over the world.

    October 28, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  5. kristen

    Great article. Makes me wonder if sending more troops will have any lasting effect on the country. Our expectations might need to be greatly lowered. Are we willing?

    October 28, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  6. RD

    Drug money that is circulting in Afgchanistan, who is laundering it? Is it being cisrculated along with UN aid pvoded to poor Afghans? People who have nothing to eat, would accept anything to survive... Only way to break the back of the drug money is to capture the druglords aka Talibans.....

    October 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  7. Siar Amiri

    Could someone ask where Dr. Abdullah Abdullah finds the money for his campaign. Word on the street is, he has stollen millions and has received millions in form of bribary.

    October 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm |