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When Afghan security forces found an enormous cache of heroin hidden beneath concrete blocks in a tractor-trailer outside Kandahar in 2004, the local Afghan commander quickly impounded the truck and notified his boss.
Before long, the commander, Habibullah Jan, received a telephone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, asking him to release the vehicle and the drugs, Mr. Jan later told American investigators, according to notes from the debriefing obtained by The New York Times. He said he complied after getting a phone call from an aide to President Karzai directing him to release the truck.
Several American investigators said senior officials at the D.E.A. and the office of the Director of National Intelligence complained to them that the White House favored a hands-off approach toward Ahmed Wali Karzai because of the political delicacy of the matter. But White House officials dispute that, instead citing limited D.E.A. resources in Kandahar and southern Afghanistan and the absence of political will in the Afghan government to go after major drug suspects as the reasons for the lack of an inquiry.
“We invested considerable resources into building Afghan capability to conduct such investigations and consistently encouraged Karzai to take on the big fish and address widespread Afghan suspicions about the link between his brother and narcotics,” said Meghan O’Sullivan, who was the coordinator for Afghanistan and Iraq at the National Security Council until last year.
It was not clear whether President Bush had been briefed on the matter.Humayun Hamidzada, press secretary for President Karzai, denied that the president’s brother was involved in drug trafficking or that the president had intervened to help him. “People have made allegations without proof,” Mr. Hamidzada said.
Spokesmen for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
The White House says it believes that Ahmed Wali Karzai is involved in drug trafficking, and American officials have repeatedly warned President Karzai that his brother is a political liability, two senior Bush administration officials said in interviews last week.
Some off topic facts, did you know that we have reserves of raw opium stored in Fort Knox in case of emergencies? Right next to the bricks of gold, if they are still there!
Fort Knox Vaults Harbor Millions In Opium, Morphine -- Stockpile Held For Emergencies
Instead, the agency contracted with the NORAMCO company of Delaware to convert the remaining opium into morphine sulphate. The conversion means the agency will have to hold onto the drugs for years or destroy them and lose the multimillion-dollar investment.