Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, has been on the CIA payroll for much of the past eight years, The New York Times reports, citing current and former American officials:
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 Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. ‘He’s 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. Karzai’s 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 sides.
A few things are immediately evident:
- The American military and the American intelligence apparatus appear to be waging two different wars in the region. On the one hand, there is the resource-hogging, politically unpalatable and oft-ridiculed “population-centric” counterinsurgency fight ISAF is currently engaged in (however imperfectly); on the other hand, there is the shadowy, violent and so very sexy counterterrorism mission headed by an agency which famously owes no explanations and isn’t accountable to anyone. By their nature, these missions are not mutually exclusive. But there is mounting evidence that Mr. COIN and Mr. CT aren’t exactly cross-pissing in brotherly bliss.
- There are two Karzais: one is a liability; the other, an asset. You cannot get rid of one without losing the other. Hence, from the point of view of the war effort, their combined usefulness is nil.
- In August, a report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed that the Pentagon’s Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List — a roster of 367 approved terrorist targets — had been expanded to include 50 “nexus targets”, or Afghan drug lords with links to the insurgency. Since Mr. Karzai, a “suspected” drug boss, obviously isn’t on the list, the only conclusion one can draw is that the United States is wiping out his competitors for him.