Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president, on Wednesday denied reports that he has received regular payments from the CIA for much of the past eight years.
The New York Times, citing current and former American officials, reported Tuesday the CIA pays Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA’s direction in and around Kandahar. Karzai called the report “ridiculous”.
“I work with the Americans, the Canadians, the British, anyone who asks for my help. They (CIA) do their own recruitment. I have no idea where they get their recruits. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he told AP.
The CIA’s ties to Karzai, who is a suspected player in the country’s illegal opium trade, have created deep divisions within the Obama administration, the Times said.
Allegations that Karzai is involved in the drug trade have circulated in Kabul for months. He denies them.
Critics say the ties with Karzai complicate the United States’ increasingly tense relationship with his older brother, President Hamid Karzai.
The CIA’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.