New York, Oct 28 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is alleged to be an important player in the country's booming illegal opium trade, receives regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), according to current and former US officials.
The CIA pays Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the US intelligence agency's direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar.
The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Karzai raise significant questions about America's war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House, the New York Times reports.
The ties to Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America's increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet.
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, the report says.
Some US officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the US to withdraw.
"If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves," said Major General Michael T. Flynn, the senior US intelligence official in Afghanistan.
Karzai is also paid for allowing the CIA and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city - the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force.
Karzai also helps the CIA communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. Karzai's role as a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban, as the Obama Administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change sides, the paper reports.
The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the drug lords who are believed to permeate the highest levels of President Karzai's administration. "The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone," General Flynn said. (ANI)