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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 08/22/2010

Spy: Stolen U.S. dollars exit Afghan airport controlled by Karzai brother

By Jeff Stein

Afghan intelligence service reports in the hands of NATO-led forces say that the major exit point for stolen American dollars is through the airport in Kandahar, controlled by President Hamid Karzai’s brother.

According to a Washington Post report on Friday, U.S. and Afghan authorities, “alarmed by an exodus of money from Afghanistan … are trying to constrict a flow of cash through the country's main airport," in Kabul. The airport, according to the report, is "believed to be a major conduit for drug proceeds and diverted foreign aid.”

But a former CIA official who works with Afghanistan's spy service said the airport at Kandahar dwarfs Kabul as an exit point for millions of dollars in pilfered U.S. aid money and drug proceeds. The president's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, president of the provincial council in Kandahar, has been repeatedly accused of controlling the opium trade there.

“The direct Ariana flight from Kandahar to Dubai in its cargo hold carries many bales of U.S. dollars wrapped in burlap,” said the former CIA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak freely. “No hand carry. This is AWK’s preferred route.”

“On one day in July,” he added, “one of our guys saw 13 bales of cash being unloaded in Dubai from this flight.”

Karzai, sometimes called "the King of Kandahar," has denied his involvement in the drug trade, most recently in an interview Thursday with CBS News.

"No one came up with any proof that I'm involved in any illegal activities," he said. "When it comes to drug issues, it's not a legal issue. It is a political issue..."

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, or NDS, keeps a close eye on meetings between Ahmed Wali Karzai and the CIA, the former CIA official said.

“The NDS has told us where they meet, when they meet, what his monthly salary is, how it is delivered and the names of the two CIA women who do the actual cash transfer,” he said.

The former official, a CIA operations official during his almost four decades in the spy agency, gives the Afghan intelligence service high marks.

"I have read a lot of NDS material by now, and contrary to one’s usual impression about Third-World intel services, they are good (if perhaps not too aware of human rights)."

"One of our non-US guys," the former official continued, "had a long friendly chat with the head of NDS, and the NDS head just lit into the stupidity and myopia of CIA. It made me cry."

The Washington Post, the New York Times and other news media reported last year that Karzai, who controls much in the bellwether province of Kandahar, is a U.S. intelligence asset.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R - Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee panel that oversees human intelligence issues, told SpyTalk last October that Karzai "cooperates" with U.S. intelligence but is not a controlled agent.

"There's a difference between being an intelligence asset and somebody who cooperates," said Rogers, a former FBI agent who has visited Afghanistan several times. "'Asset is an overstatement," he continued. "[Ahmed Wali Karzai] is a public official who cooperates ... when he's talked to -- that's different than an asset."

Whatever the exact relationship Karzai has with drugs and the CIA, "several U.S. lawmakers, including Vice President Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have urged the president to dismiss his brother from the council,” The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported last September.

“But U.S. and Canadian diplomats have not pressed the matter, in part because Ahmed Wali Karzai has given valuable intelligence to the U.S. military, and he also routinely provides assistance to Canadian forces, according to several officials familiar with the issue.”

The Post’s Greg Miller and Johua Partlow reported Friday that U.S. and Afghan authorities were planning to install “U.S.-developed currency counters at the Kabul airport. The devices would be used to record serial numbers on bills to determine whether money being carried out of the country has been siphoned from aid funds flowing in, U.S. and Afghan officials said.”

But greenbacks exiting Kandahar in burlap bales would require a different kind of screening, the former CIA official said.

By Jeff Stein  | August 22, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
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If I'm regularly carrying 800K in cash in a briefcase or unloading bales of cash to a foreign country - there are so many ways to lose a small or large chunk of that.

One doesn't need to be involved with drugs if they're simply handling the money. It's going right from the U.S. straight into their pockets.

Posted by: cmecyclist | August 23, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey the Federal Reserve prints the stuff out of thin air, and N.Korea copies and distributes via China and Russia .Soon, they will need tractor trailers to equal one burlap sack. Let me know when & where the false flag is going to be raised because the "tipping point" is soon to come.

Posted by: pauldia | August 23, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

I suggest having KBR run the currency counting machines at the airport, at, say, a pennny a dollar.

Posted by: axolotl | August 23, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

If that's the level of our "friends", maybe the world needs to walk away and let the country fall apart. When terrorists training centers are set up, reserve the right to blast them.
It's like a valuable employee that steals you blind. His brother is obviously a major point of corruption in a country that will never vary from it's historic heritage of tribal warfare and corruption.

Posted by: pjohn2 | August 23, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

The point is we know what's going on and what do we do... write reports and present power point briefings. Even in the heat of Afghanistan our self-licking ice cream cone won't melt.

Posted by: whocares666 | August 23, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The wonder is why we should think the Afghans would change. Corruption is a way of life for them, clearly, and has been for centuries.

Americans clearly have almost a complete monopoly in the world on naive stupidity...just wave our magic "morality" wand and the Afghans should have changed. Hmmmm, you mean they haven't....

No other country is throwing away tens or hundreds of billions of dollars on a pointless effort to "change" the culture in Afghanistan and "remake" the country. Americans should ask: why is that, if Afghanistan is supposedly so important to the world at large?

Of course, our politicians and military "leaders" (I use that term loosely) share equal blame: why we continue to deluge Afghanistan with taxpayer dollars when so much of it is funding bank accounts in Dubai; funding the insurgency through payments to warloads and tribal elements; and feeding Afghan a complete mystery. We know full well that it's happening, but continue to pour money down the drain there.

It may not qualify technically as "corruption"...but a lot of "influential" Americans are peddling huge amounts of money, power, and influence in these circumstances, so it's unlikely to stop any time soon. It's most clearly not in our national interests...but do you think our politicians and military "leaders" care? Not on your life...or our standard of living.

Posted by: Rigged | August 23, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

What do people expect when KBR and Blackwater run the airports?

Posted by: walker1 | August 23, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Ariana Airlines is one of many names for the airlies formerly run by one Viktor Bout.

The the same guy who is the basis for the Character played by Nicolas Cage in the film "Lord of War".

The airlines he ran have a long and checkered history and he was just one of its recent "owners," it goes by many names: Aerocom, Jet Line, and Air Mero and uses other doble blind front companies like Chapman Freebourne, and Echolines.

This airline began as "Air America" back in the Vietnam war and may go all the way back the Berlin Airlift.

It has delivered to Iran, the Mujhadeen, the Contras, the Taliban, Pathe Et Lao, Charles Taylor's Liberia and any other dirty little war governments wanted deniability on.

In 2003 Viktor Bout was working for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's company KBR delivering weapons to Iraq that would then mysteriously disapear. 10,000 AKs went walkies from the KBR run airport days later came a surge in attacks on US troops by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The aircraft turn up at US and NATO Military airbases from Afghanistan to the UK and US as well as places like Dubai and Carakas. The plane ID's get changed on such a regular basis that no one knows what they were originaly called.

If you are realy into spying then you should have a read:

Very educational.

Posted by: walker1 | August 23, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Here is a little more on our friend Viktor Bout. It explains how he sold some of his aircraft to the Taliban. And then worked for KBR from 2003 to 2007.

Posted by: walker1 | August 23, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I am a regular visitor to Afghanistan and some of my conclusions about the factual situation can be summarized as:
Taliban are not very popular any where in Afghanistan and even in Helmand. If people would be given a chance to vote with out any pressure Taliban would never win. USA and Foreign Forces are even more Unpopular than Taliban and people hate the arrogant attitude of Young Soldiers posing as they are from the God.
Political Process in Afghanistan has people support but people want solution to their day to day problems and provisions of basic needs which is definitely not possible in years or even decades.
People blame the Foreigners and Foreign Forces for not delivering what they were promised.
99% of the Afghan people feel happy when Foreign Soldiers are killed. Afghans want the forces to stay and maintain peace. Average Afghan Look at the Foreigners as a threat to his culture, values, religion, and way of life.
99% Afghans believe that by promoting women rights west is promoting prostitution, and trying to destroy the Afghan society.
What options west has:
Women Lib organizations must be banned from Afghanistan. Talk of women rights must be stopped because that Ignite hatred.
Gender issue must be thrown behind and efforts must be concentrated on the followings:
Campaign against corruption, Development of Education, Medical, Road, Communication Infrastructure. Provision of Public Utilities.
Foreign forces must be brought in defensive positions and policing.
Talk of NEED TO DO MORE in public must be stopped because that ignite hatred. No nation would like to be lectured. Americans must understand that now they do not hold high moral grounds which they have buried in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Garaib, Iraq War, Kidnapping and Torture of the prisoners, detaining the people with out trial etc. so they should not lecture the world. People hate it and understand the hypocrisy.
Americans Citizens are being ruled by lobbyists and must not listen to them
They supported the war and now must stand behind the decision and have patience. THERE IS ONLY WORSE OPTIONS IF THEY WILL NOT HAVE PATIENCE & WOULD NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR LEADERS. visit our site for travel to Afghanistan

Posted by: Afghanistan-security | August 24, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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