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Working For The CIA In Afghanistan

Ahmad Wali Karzai
According to a "New York Times" report published on October 28, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half brother of embattled Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has been on the U.S. CIA payroll for the past eight years despite being accused of being linked to the mushrooming drug trade in the region.

But in an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and in a press conference in his southern Afghan home town, the younger Karzai flatly rejected these allegations. "Absolutely, this is ridiculous. I haven't received anything from any foreign country. This is absolutely [false]," he says.

Some Afghans and old hands in Afghanistan are surprised that "The New York Times" got the story -- eight years late.

Books written by CIA operatives Gary Schroen and Gary Berntsen in detail chronicle how anti-Taliban Afghan militia leaders were paid bags of dollars to mobilize them against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

To understand the role of foreign intelligence services, one needs to look at recent Afghan history, especially after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Many members of the Afghan elite will tell you that at some point in their lives they had to work for, or at least maintain working relationships with, Soviet and later Russian, U.S., Pakistani, Iranian, Indian, Saudi, or European intelligence services.

This was at a time when the rivalries between these superpowers and regional powers -- and their respective ideologies -- systematically destroyed the Afghan state.

It's not that these Afghan leaders, some of whom were diehard Islamists or sworn communists or nationalists, were all traitors. Many of them loved their country and its people and genuinely wanted to help.

But for their own protection and to keep their families alive, they had to make a compromise and seek protection from a larger entity. And loyalty to Afghanistan alone paid nothing, while working for a foreign patron paid the bills -- and sometimes paid the bills of hundreds and thousands of armed followers.

While writing this, I am looking at an Afghan satellite TV channel running a CIA advertisement.

-- Abubakar Siddique

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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