Karzai’s Brother A Spook?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Afghan National Army soldiers display more than six kilograms of opium discovered in a former insurgent safe house in the Farah province of Afghanistan Dec. 16, 2007. (Photo courtesy of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan) Afghan National Army soldiers display more than six kilograms of opium discovered in a former insurgent safe house in the Farah province of Afghanistan Dec. 16, 2007. (Photo courtesy of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan) Today’s biggest news is that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected drug kingpin, is “said to be” on the CIA’s payroll. The scoop by the New York Times‘ Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti, and James Risen adds even more drama to the already Hollywood-worthy tale of the Karzai brothers. The six Karzais have done very well for themselves since the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001. But it’s very clear from the Times story that not everyone in the US establishment is happy for the brothers. Filkins et. al. say it outright: “The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration.” But you could tell that from the very fact the story exists. CIA agents don’t get outed to the press unless someone is very upset with their behavior. So exactly who is chafing at the payments to Ahmed? Sometime General McChrystal adviser Andrew Exum says he doesn’t know if the story is true, but he does know that the military establishment in Afghanistan doesn’t much care for Ahmed Karzai:

[N]umerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face—bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. And so if AWK is “the agency’s guy”, that leads to a huge point of friction between NATO/ISAF and the CIA. Again, I am not currently serving as an advisor to ISAF and cannot speak for Gen. McChrystal’s command.

Of course, as Exum points out, the military folks are already on the record saying Ahmed is a problem. The lead quote in the Times piece is from Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a top military intelligence guy and a McChrystal honcho. And later in the story, Flynn basically accuses the CIA of supporting crime in Afghanistan. “The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” he says. Exum says this is “yet another example of NATO/ISAF carrying out one campaign in Afghanistan while the CIA carries out another.” Bottom line: the message from this story, and the leaks to the Times, is pretty clear. McChrystal and his team are telling the CIA they’ve had enough.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that Ahmed Karzai is not Hamid’s only powerful brother. One sibling, Mahmood Karzai, held a bizarre press conference in Washington just a few months ago where he advised President Hamid to hire an economic team and portrayed himself, in the words of Mother Jones‘ Bruce Falconer, as “propriety incarnate.” As Bruce pointed out, Mahmood owns “ownership stakes in several of Afghanistan’s biggest concerns, including a cement company, a real estate development firm, a Toyota dealership, the Kabul Bank, and four coal mines,” and the Times has suggested that he used his pull with his brother to get rich.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate