Karzai’s brother ‘corrupt drugs baron’ US says: WikiLeaks

Kris Canekeratne at LBR LBO Tech Conference

KABUL, November 29, 2010 (AFP) – Leaked US documents on Monday painted President Hamid Karzai’s controversial younger brother as a corrupt drugs baron, exposing deep US concerns about graft undermining the war against the Afghan Taliban. Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks has started to release quarter of a million confidential US diplomatic cables, detailing embarrassing and inflammatory episodes in what the White House has condemned as a “reckless and dangerous action”.

Ahmed Wali Karzai has long been dogged by allegations of unsavoury links to Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade and private security firms.

But as a powerful figure in Kandahar, where US forces are leading the fight to break a nine-year Taliban insurgency, Western officials have kept quiet in public on the president’s younger half brother’s tainted record.

Leaked cables from the US embassy in Kabul now reveal their true feelings in moves that could complicate already strained relations between Washington and Karzai at a key juncture in the war.

“While we must deal with AWK (Ahmed Wali Karzai) as the head of the provincial council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker,” said one note that followed a meeting between the preside