Ahmad Wali Karzai, de facto ruler of Kandahar, chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council, and half brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has been assassinated in his own home in Kandahar, Afghanstan. Karzai was shot twice with an AK47, allegedly by a trusted friend and member of the Karzai extended family, Sardar Mohammad. Mohammad worked for more than a decade with the family, usually in a security capacity. At the time of the killing, he was the personal bodyguard of Ahmad Wali Karzai.
Karzai was an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe; he was of the Pashtun, but not of the Taliban. Ahmad Karzai was considered notorious by many for his corruption in relation to his work toward advancement of Afaghanistan’s heroin trade. Afghanistan provides most of the world’s heroin; its fields are sown with opium poppies. An atypical report from the Star News datelined Kandahar reads, “The King — kingpin — of Kandahar is dead. Few are mourning.”
During a period when the Taliban controlled Afghanstan, Ahmad Karzai relocated to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois. He opened and ran a restaurant, the Helmand restaurant, specializing in exotic Afghan cuisine, on Halsted Street in the north side Lakeview neighborhood. Photographs and tapestries graced the walls, and a chandelier hung from the ceiling. Karzai was described by diplomats and the media as a “Mafia-like figure.” Following the defeat of the Taliban in October of 2001 by a US-led military operation, and the Karzai government’s assumption of power, Karzai returned to Kandahar.
Speaking of the Tuesday, July 12 assassination, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said, “My younger brother was martyred in his house today. This is the life of all Afghan people. I hope these miseries which every Afghan family faces will one day end.”
Ooutgoing commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanstan, General David Petraeus, conveyed condolences to the Karzai family and condemned the killing, saying international forces would assist the Afghan government in bringing the killer and any accomplices to justice.
The Taliban has claimed complicity in the killing, but that claim is unsubstantiated as yet.
(Photo: Time Magazine, Time World)