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The Toronto Star

Hamid Karzai's Brother Linked to CIA

Suspected player in drug trade admits 'helping other Americans,' denies being on agency payroll


Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is pictured in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 21, 2009. U.S. officials say he is paid by the CIA. (JONATHAN MONTPETIT/THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

KABUL–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, according to current and former American

The agency pays Karzai for a variety of services,
including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates
at the CIA's direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, his

Karzai said in an interview that he cooperates with
American civilian and military officials, but does not engage in the
drug trade and does not receive payments from the CIA

Karzai and
the CIA's relationship is wide ranging, several American officials
said. He helps the agency 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 Afghan government

Karzai is also paid for allowing the CIA 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 condition of anonymity.

also helps the CIA communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans
loyal to the Taliban. His role as an intermediary between the Americans
and the Taliban is regarded by supporters of Karzai as valuable now, as
the Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging
Taliban leaders to change sides.


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A CIA spokesman declined to comment for the story.

intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these
kind of allegations," said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.

Some American officials said the allegations of Karzai's role in the drug trade were not conclusive.

no proof of Ahmed Wali Karzai's involvement in drug trafficking,
certainly nothing that would stand up in court," said one American
official familiar with the intelligence.

In an interview,
Karzai denied any role in the drug trade or that he takes money from
the CIA. He said he received regular payments from his brother, the
president, for "expenses," but said he did not know where the money
came from. He has, among other things, introduced Americans to
insurgents considering changing sides. And he has given the Americans
intelligence, he said. But he said he is not compensated for that

"I don't know anyone under the name of the CIA,"
Karzai said. "I have never received any money from any organization. I
help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my
duty as an Afghan."


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