Posts Tagged ‘President Karzai’
SITTING on the floor of a house on the outskirts of Kabul, the Haqqani network commander sipped green tea as he calmly explained the chaos his organisation set out to cause with an elaborate plot to blow up Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace.
The operation would have begun with an explosion set off in the grounds by a security guard from Karzai’s home village who had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash to betray him, according to Malim Asrallah, 46, a stocky veteran of 30 years of insurgencies.
The blast would have drawn other guards away from their posts on the perimeter of the palace, in the heart of Kabul.
“After he [the guard] had detonated the explosives, eight truck bombs were meant to hit the different entrances to the palace,” Asrallah said.
Small teams of gunmen would then have arrived to finish off the survivors.
If Karzai had escaped the bombings, which were planned to coincide with a cabinet meeting, these gunmen would have killed him and his most senior ministers, Asrallah concluded with a flourish.
In the event, the plot — which had been planned for nine months — was foiled. Two weeks ago, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested six men for their alleged roles. Among them was the director of microbiology at Kabul University, who is accused of recruiting students and other conspirators.
At the time, the NDS said simply that the plan had been to assassinate the president, perhaps on a trip to one of the provinces.
However, The Sunday Times has pieced together information from Afghan intelligence sources, government officials and the Haqqani network itself to establish that the plot was intended not only to destroy the government, but to trigger prolonged ethnic conflict.
Asrallah’s account, which has been corroborated by NDS sources, reveals that the Haqqani network, Afghanistan’s most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group, was planning simultaneous attacks on the ministries of defence and the interior, and on the headquarters of the NDS itself.
The network also planned to assassinate leaders of the Hazara and Tajik communities, including the governor of Balkh province in the north of the country, with the aim of provoking inter-ethnic war, two senior NDS officials said.
The NDS believes that up to 100 people, including government officials, were involved in the conspiracy. Asrallah put the number even higher. Read the rest of this entry »
Ahmad Wali Karzai, the half-brother of the Afghan president, lived under constant fear of assassination. His death last week was the latest of 10 attempts to kill him.
“The seventh bomb to target me was so big that hundreds of cats fed on human flesh for days afterwards,” he told me last July.
The man who finally killed Karzai was someone he trusted with his life. Not only was Sardar Mohammed a close confidant, but he also worked as an informant for the CIA, according to relatives, Karzai’s friends and the Afghan intelligence agency.
Mohammed, who shot dead Karzai, 49, at his home on Tuesday, ran a network of spies who passed information to the CIA, according to Mohammed’s brothers-in-law, two of whom work for the CIA.
Karzai, known as the “King of Kandahar” for the iron fist with which he ruled the southern province, was himself working for the CIA, according to his brother Mahmoud.
Karzai, likened to the gangster Al Capone by US officials for his alleged links to the drug trade, helped the US spy agency run a clandestine paramilitary unit called the Kandahar Strike Force. The CIA uses the unit to conduct covert counterterrorism operations in the city. Some members of the strike force are in prison in Kabul for shooting dead Kandahar’s police chief in 2009. Critics say that Karzai used the militia to kill off his rivals.
“If there was something Sardar could do that the Americans couldn’t, then they would ask him to do it,” said Abdul Malik, one of Mohammed’s brothers-in-law. “The Americans were very happy with his performance.”
One of Malik’s brothers carried an identity card with the words “Qandahar Strike Force” emblazoned in red ink on the back.
Afghan intelligence officials confirmed they knew of Mohammed’s links to the CIA, but insisted there was no evidence that the agency had ordered the hit on Karzai.
“It would be crazy to think the Americans could do this to my brother,” said Mahmoud Karzai, another Karzai brother who is under investigation for tax evasion in the US, where he used to live. Karzai’s family believe Mohammed’s Taliban informants may have persuaded Mohammed to switch sides.
Ahmad Wali Karzai had no shortage of enemies in the city. His foes accused him of assassinating and imprisoning his rivals, exploiting American military contracts and running drugs. His supporters said his powerful oratory and deft political skills held the south together.
Mohammed’s motive continues to baffle the police, the Afghan intelligence service and the government’s national security council. All three agencies have launched investigations into the murder.
At the heart of the mystery is the close relationship between Karzai and Mohammed — the men had been allies and friends for seven years. Read the rest of this entry »