The majority of online and mainstream media is asserting that the Taliban “recruited” Ahmed Wali Karzai’s bodyguard to execute him, but is this the logical explanation?
After the Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother in Kandahar on July 12th, Main Steam Media and internet articles seemed to have taken this information and run with it while only making brief mention of alternate possibilities. Blind faith in and regurgitation of the ‘official story’ seems to be the modus operandi for most journalists these days. Using the following fairly typical article as an example, motivation and responsibility for this assassination begin to become more clear.
By Julius Cavendish in Kabul
Saturday, 16 July 2011 – [Source]
Editing in RED
The bodyguard who assassinated President Hamid Karzai’s brother had been working closely with US Special Forces and the CIA before he was [reportedly] recruited by the Taliban, raising fears over the Islamist movement’s increasingly sophisticated intelligence apparatus which has managed to threaten the inner circles of power in Afghanistan.
Sardar Mohammad, who shot Ahmed Wali Karzai at his home in Kandahar City on Tuesday, also held regular meetings with British officials, and had two brothers-in-law serving in a CIA-run paramilitary unit, the Kandahar Strike Force, the Washington Post reported yesterday.
evidence is emerging[it is being theorized] that the Taliban recruited Mohammad – who was believed to be a friend, confidant and trusted lieutenant of Ahmed Wali Karzai – in an infiltration of the Afghan government’s security apparatus.
“Our investigation shows that for the last three months he was acting out of character, not normal, erratic,” said Mahmoud Karzai, another Karzai brother. “He wasn’t sleeping, he was nervous, he was getting phone calls in the middle of the night, and our information shows he made a trip to Quetta, Pakistan and met with
some[what was assumed to be] Taliban. His father was a mullah. So all these things combined, plus the Taliban claim of responsibility… but our preliminary investigation indicates[assumes] this was the work of the Taliban.”
Security analysts say that, if true, it shows not only the problems facing the Afghan army and police as they start taking control of the country from NATO, but also how sophisticated Taliban intelligence operations have become.
The immediate assumption after Ahmed Karzai’s death was that Mohammad was pursuing a personal vendetta, largely because the notion of defection to the Taliban was so hard to credit. But that seems to be what happened. The insurgents “get these very big victories quite often and I think probably we underestimate the Taliban’s intelligence components,” said one “Western analyst”.
“They do have dedicated intelligence officers. And that’s not just about gathering information but also about infiltration, using whatever combination of blackmail or ideological levers they need to … The killing is a really excellent indication of the sophistication of Taliban intelligence networks. It’s something we don’t know enough about – how it breaks down,” the [unknown] analyst said.
There has been a string of high-profile attacks by the Taliban against Afghan government officials, and a number of instances of agents infiltrating the Afghan security forces and killing Afghan or NATO troops.
But what makes Mohammad’s [presumed] defection so remarkable is just how close he was to Ahmed Wali Karzai. The Washington Post says he met the Kandahar strongman six days a week.
Who really orchestrated the hit on AWK?
Taliban? Possibly. CIA? More likely.
Sardar Mohammad was showing all the signs of a man being forced to act against his will. If he was coerced by the Taliban, he would see himself as “the man” on the inside, bravely carrying out a great deed. But instead, he was paranoid and easily spooked (no pun intended), acting as if the plan for the assassination was coming from the outside – out of his control. Therefore, he may have felt powerless and feared being discovered since he was at the mercy of the very men he and AWK worked for. Of course, it is known that AWK was under CIA control. He may have been making the day-to-day decisions and was allowed to control narcotics production and trafficking, but he ultimately worked for the CIA. But why did the CIA want to be rid of AWK? Perhaps this was a message to AWK’s brother, Hamid Karzai, a message meant to maintain control? Maybe AWK was taking too many liberties, becoming too powerful and the CIA was losing control of AWK himself?
Mohammad and his brothers were obviously family friends of AWK going back to at least the early 1990s. “Sardar Mohammad, who had been a melon farmer with a wife, three sons and four daughters, eventually became a police commander responsible for about 200 men who guarded eight checkpoints, the relatives say. His duties included guarding Karzai family homes and the cemetery where Ahmed Wali Karzai was buried on Wednesday. He met six days a week with Ahmed Wali Karzai, who would pay Mohammad’s policemen if the government was late with the salaries. Their relationship was so close that Karzai brought his mother to Mohammad’s home.” Mohammad was an inner-circle bodyguard and confidant. “Mohammad was treated like family by Mr Karzai,” a cousin of Mr Karzai said. Mohammad’s brothers were working with AWK’s Kandahar Strike Force (KSF) and were also reportedly on lease from KSF as “guards at a CIA base in Kandahar”. Typically, a man doesn’t betray a close friend without good reason. The Taliban theory does not add up. It seems more logical that the CIA was forcing Sardar Mohammad to execute AWK by threatening the well-being of him, his family or by some other unknown coercion – perhaps filling the power vacuum created after AWK’s death.
So why the definitive lean towards the Taliban theory in the media? Could this still, as most articles claim, be the work of the Taliban? Yes. But it could just as likely be the work of the CIA. This obvious slant must have purpose as it seems all objectivity has been abandoned.
Most articles make mention of Sardar Mohammad’s trip to Quetta, Pakistan and use this fact as evidence of a meeting with Taliban. They fail to mention the increased CIA presence in this city starting in late 2010.
Most online media report that Sardar was “recruited” by the Taliban, repeating this phrase over and over, but show no evidence of this. It is even admitted that this theory was, at first, denounced since it was “so hard to credit” – in other words – no evidence exists.
The other “evidence” used is the fact that Mohammad’s father was a ‘mullah’, or someone who studied Islamic law and tradition. This proves nothing. There are many Islamic religious leaders, scholars and clergy-men who don’t align themselves with violent extremists – this is a purely ignorant point of view.
Other “evidence” offered is that the Taliban claimed responsibility. This cannot be used as hard fact either, even according to NATO itself. In May of this year, NATO/ISAF spokeman stated; “False claims of responsibility made by the Taliban as part of its propaganda campaign are acts of desperation…The Taliban insurgent group is known to frequently exaggerate and fabricate claims for propaganda purposes, and the group usually publishes dozens of statements daily. Most statements turn out to be either false or highly exaggerated.”
Ultimately, his motives cannot be fully known and objectivity in the media must be maintained, but one possible reason the CIA may have been forced to act has to do with the amount of power AWK commanded in the city of Kandahar and even Kandahar Province. A few articles explore this:
“Ahmed Karzai’s companies are said to control the lion’s share of the multimillion-dollar contracts for serving the sprawling Kandahar Airfield Base, which in the last four years has more than tripled in size. NATO forces had complained about Karzai’s greed and the fact that he used his position as head of the Kandahar Provincial Council – the provincial legislature – to ensure that most coalition contracts for Afghan companies flowed through him.
Ahmed Karzai’s control of contracts was discussed in a [wiki-leaks leaked] U.S. Embassy cable dated Sept. 28, 2009, which recounts a meeting between U.S. officials, Karzai and Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa. The cable expressed regret that the U.S. had to deal with Karzai, who is “widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.” [source]
Mohammad was a member of the Popalzai tribe, of which Ahmed Karzai was the leader. The Popalzai have always been enemies of the Taliban. [source]
“None of those who knew Mr. Muhammad accepted the Taliban’s claim that he was acting on behalf of insurgents. “I would not connect it with the Taliban,” a relative of Mr. Muhammad said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a crime. “He was very much liked and loved by Ahmed Wali. Mohammad was considered such a close and trusted friend that he was allowed to carry a gun in Karzai’s presence. [source]
It is very difficult to say why he did it. In a society such as Afghanistan, where clan and tribe count for so much, people have been especially shocked that Wali Karzai — reputed to have more enemies than friends — was killed by such a close associate.
In exile, he said, Mohammed lived alongside the two Karzai brothers and their father in neighbouring Pakistan where the Karzais had formed an anti-Soviet resistance movement and later an anti-Taliban one in the 1990s.
But neighbors and acquaintances also painted a picture of Mohammed as a man with drug problems who was prone to violent rages, while at the same time he hated the Taliban who have claimed credit for the killing. “He was using drugs,” a relative of Muhammad added, declining to be more specific. Members of the police often use hashish in Afghanistan. [source]
With the key knowledge of tribal allegiance and personal disdain for the Taliban, one can assume that the Taliban did not play a part in this assassination. On the other hand, the CIA is known as an extremely efficient profiler. Having access to both men, they understood their dynamic very well and furthermore, the CIA have a history of manipulating close relationships to affect an outcome decided to be operationally advantageous to either CIA or US Policy.
It was well known by the CIA that this one man had the perfect combination of traits to become their shooter:
1) a rage problem;
2) a drug problem;
3) a slight jealousy issue with his long-time friends’ power; and
4) the trust of AWK to carry a weapon in his presence.
A motive is also not understood. The aforementioned leaked US-Embassy Cable paints a clear picture of a deteriorating relationship between US and International leadership and AWK as far back as 2009. It can be assumed that this trajectory did not change in the last 2 years.
All signs seem to point away from the Taliban and towards other forces working behind the scenes. But will there ever be a clear answer as to who exactly is behind this? It is not likely. One can only guess.