July 14, 2011 in News
‘There is no love for Ahmed Karzai’ (Montreal Gazette):
New facts have emerged that indicate the assassination could have been part of an ongoing family feud over the rich spoils coming from coalition contracts.
Ahmed Karzai, 50, was murdered by Sardar Mohammad, 40, employed by Karzai as head of security at four checkpoints close to the Karzai compound. Mohammad shot Karzai Tuesday morning in the head and chest with his pistol as the two men met privately in Karzai’s home.
Mohammad was a member of the Popalzai tribe, of which Ahmed Karzai was the leader. The Popalzai have always been enemies of the Taliban. Mohammad was considered such a close and trusted friend that he was allowed to carry a gun in Karzai’s presence.
According to one source, who didn’t want to give his name for fear of being killed, Mohammad also was employed as one of Karzai’s bagmen and enforcers, and had his own team of personal bodyguards, seven of whom have been arrested.
The source claimed that Ahmed Karzai believed Mohammad was skimming from the money he collected and Karzai had threatened him. “Mohammad killed him in retaliation,” the source said.
Ahmed Karzai’s companies are said to control the lion’s share of the multimillion-dollar contracts for serving the sprawling Kandahar Airfield Base, which in the last four years has more than tripled in size.
NATO forces had complained about Karzai’s greed and the fact that he used his position as head of the Kandahar Provincial Council – the provincial legislature – to ensure that most coalition contracts for Afghan companies flowed through him.
The Afghan president acted quickly Wednesday to fill the power vacuum left by his brother’s death by appointing another brother, Shah Wali Karzai, to take his place on the council.
Ahmed Karzai’s control of contracts was discussed in a U.S. Embassy cable dated Sept. 28, 2009, which recounts a meeting between U.S. officials, Karzai and Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa. The cable expressed regret that the U.S. had to deal with Karzai, who is “widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.”
The cable, which was made public through WikiLeaks, claimed that Ahmed Karzai attempted to persuade the Americans to essentially allow him to control construction contracts and security in the region. The cable indicates that Karzai wanted big projects controlled by the provincial council.
Witnesses Give Details of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s Last Minutes and His Killer (New York Times):
“There was no argument between Sardar Muhammad and Ahmed Wali,” Mr. Jan said. The commander had been working with the Karzai family for eight years and came from the same Populzai tribe, he said.
Yet he came to see Mr. Karzai on Tuesday morning with a purpose, opening fire as soon as they went inside the room, Mr. Jan said. “He came deliberately to kill him. He gave him a file and told him he should look at it and as he was looking he took out his pistol and shot him.”
None of those who knew Mr. Muhammad accepted the Taliban’s claim that he was acting on behalf of insurgents. Two people who knew him said he was a drug user, and suggested that he became angry over some dispute with Mr. Karzai. Members of the police often use hashish in Afghanistan.
“I would not connect it with the Taliban,” a relative of Mr. Muhammad said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a crime. “He was very much liked and loved by Ahmed Wali. It is very difficult to say why he did it.”
“He was using drugs,” he added, declining to be more specific.
From trusted Karzai aide to cold-blooded assassin (AFP):
Stunned by the assassination of one of the nation’s most powerful men, friends of the Afghan president’s slain brother are piecing together how a trusted aide became a cold-blooded killer.
Sardar Mohammed, the assassin who shot Ahmed Wali Karzai dead at point blank range in his own home on Tuesday, was head of security for the southern Afghanistan powerbroker and the pair had been close for decades.
But neighbours and acquaintances also painted a picture of Mohammed as a man with drug problems who was prone to violent rages, while at the same time he hated the Taliban who have claimed credit for the killing.
In a society such as Afghanistan, where clan and tribe count for so much, people have been especially shocked that Wali Karzai — reputed to have more enemies than friends — was killed by such a close associate.
Mohammed was the commander of a force of some 200 bodyguards who looked after the upmarket neighbourhood housing the younger Karzai’s large extended family.
“He was also from the Popalzai tribe and was AWK’s most trusted guy,” said Agha Lalai Dastagiri, who sits on the Kandahar provincial council that was led by Wali Karzai who is widely known by his initials.
In exile, he said, Mohammed lived alongside the two Karzai brothers and their father in neighbouring Pakistan where the Karzais had formed an anti-Soviet resistance movement and later an anti-Taliban one in the 1990s.
Wali Karzai was himself dogged by allegations of links to the drugs trade, and Dastagiri said Mohammed had to be treated for erratic behaviour linked to drug use.
“Sardar was addicted to hashish and developed psychological problems more than a year ago. AWK sent him twice to India for treatment this year, but he was still always angry and violent and smoking hashish,” he said.
“He was a very argumentative person, quick to fight, but Sardar was so close to AWK that he was always allowed to meet him while armed.”
The Taliban claimed to have turned Mohammad, but those who knew him said he was a very unlikely insurgent.
Related Material From the Archive:
- Ahmed Wali Karzai’s Assassin Sardar Mohammad Corpse Photos
- Ahmed Wali Karzai and the CIA: America’s conundrum in Afghanistan
- Tribal Leaders Say Karzai’s Team Forged 23,900 Votes
- Karzai Aide in Corruption Scandal Works for CIA
- Karzai Blocks Anti-Corruption Investigations, Fires Senior Prosecutor
- 3 US Troops Die in Taliban Attack on Kandahar Police Headquarters
- (U//FOUO) Stability Operations Information Center (SOIC) Kandahar Analysis
- Karzai criticizes U.S. backers