01 May 2012

Afghan Opium Government Installed

Seeds of Terror by Gretchen Peters, 2009, Excerpts

From the start of military operations in Afghanistan, the Bush administration and the Pentagon would conspicuously avoid taking on opium traders. The Northern Alliance swept into Kabul, installing its people in key security posts. The U.S.-appointed leader Hamid Karzai began handing out important positions like they were trophies. U.S. officials privately acknowledged the unsavory behavior of various individuals who joined the new government, including allegations that some were tied to drug trafficking.

A year before the U.S.-led invasion, Afghan farmers harvested just 8,000 hectares – mostly in areas outside the Taliban’s control. In 2002, 74,000 hectares of poppies were planted. Overnight, Afghanistan had again become the world’s leading opium producer. It is clear that senior officials in the Karzai administration are involved.

In June 2004, counter-narcotics agents raided the offices of the Helmand governor, Akhundzada, where they found nine metric tons of opium. He was removed as governor soon after, but Karzai swiftly appointed him as a member of parliament.

The Afghan president raised eyebrows in 2007 when he appointed Wasifi as his anticorruption tsar. Wasifi was convicted two decades ago for trying to sell $2 million worth of heroin to an undercover officer in Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Wasifi called the bust a youthful indiscretion.

Perhaps most troubling of all, in the light of President Karzai’s notorious reluctance to take on the drug trade, are persistent reports that his immediate family members are taking an active role in coordinating it, and that members of his Popalzai tribe, his half-brother and other cronies, have been posted to positions along trafficking routes around Afghanistan.

Karzai vows to battle corruption
03 Nov 2009
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has vowed to remove the "stigma" of corruption, a day after winning a new five-year term. In his first remarks since being declared winner on Monday of August's fraud-marred poll, he also pledged to lead an inclusive government. And he called on "Taliban brothers" who have been fighting an insurgency against him to "embrace their land". The Taliban said in a statement it would continue its fight and called Mr Karzai "a puppet".

Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.
27 Oct 2009
Senior Afghan investigators say they know plenty about Mr. Karzai’s involvement in the drug business. A major source of Mr. Karzai’s 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. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years.

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