Afghan Government Protection of Heroin Traffickers

A diplomatic cable was sent in August 2009 detailing concerns the United States had with the embrace of the drug trade by the highest levels of the Afghan government. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Attorney General Mohammed Isha Aloko appear to have an interesting habit of releasing high-value detainees before they ever reach trial, including heroin traffickers with what seems to be overwhelming evidence against them.

4. (SBU) In April, President Karzai pardoned five border policemen who were caught with 124 kilograms of heroin in their border police vehicle. The policemen, who have come to be known as the Zahir Five, were tried, convicted and sentenced to terms of 16 to 18 years each at the Central Narcotics Tribunal. But President Karzai pardoned all five of them on the grounds that they were distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred during the civil war.

5. (S) Separately, President Karzai tampered with the narcotics case of Haji Amanullah, whose father is a wealthy businessman and one of his supporters. Without any constitutional authority, Karzai ordered the police to conduct a second investigation which resulted in the conclusion that the defendant had been framed. Daudzai told DAMB he was ashamed of the president for his interference in this case and the case of the Zahir Five.

6. (S) In another case, a CJTF investigation concluded that 26 kilograms of heroin seized from a vehicle search belonged to Col. Jaweed, Chief of the Highway Police for Badakshan Province. Jaweed is the nephew of a powerful member of Parliament. Eventually, he was arrested and is currently serving in Pol-i-Charkhi prison. But, there is credible, but unconfirmed, intelligence indicating that President Karzai has signed a letter pardoning Jaweed that has not yet been delivered to the Supreme Court. Daudzai denied any significant pressure in this case.

7. (S) Unconfirmed intelligence also indicates that President Karzai is planning to release drug trafficker Ismal Safed, who is serving a 19-year sentence in Pol-i-Charkhi. Safed is a priority DEA target who was arrested in 2005 in possession of large quantities of heroin and a cache of weapons. In 2008, DEA conducted an operation in which an undercover officer purchased approximately three kilograms of heroin directly from Safed. Daudzai told the Deputy Ambassador that President Karzai will not pardon Safed, and that Post’s concerns about this case will reaffirm President Karzai’s decision not to interfere.

So how did the “Zahir Five” get away so clean after being caught with over an eighth of a ton of heroin, and where did they get their catchy name? One member of the five was Bilal Wali Mohammad, the nephew of Haji Din Mohammad, the powerful politician who resigned his post as Kabul’s governor to head Karzai’s presidential re-election campaign in 2009. At the time of his arrest, Bilal was working as the personal secretary for his cousin, Haji Zahir, commander of the border police in Takhar, a province that borders Tajikistan and serves as a conduit for drugs to Russia and China. In fact, all five pardoned traffickers were employed by Zahir at the time of their arrest.

And who is the Daudzai who was so ashamed of the first two cases? He is Mohammad Omar Daudzai, Chief of Staff of the Afghanistan government. A real ally to US government interests perhaps, except for the fact that he receives millions of dollar via bags of cash in regular shipments from the Iranian government.

From Cable Reference ID 09KABUL2246, 2009-08-06 05:05, Classification SECRET, Origin Embassy Kabul.

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