Ahmed Wali Karzai—half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, and the province’s de facto ruling warlord—was assassinated July 12 at one of his five mansions by a senior commander of his own security detail, Sardar Mohammad. The assassin—a member of Karzai’s extended clan, the Popalzai, and a trusted family associate for decades—was immediately gunned down by the other bodyguards. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The Interior Ministry says an investigation is underway and several people who were guarding the home have been taken into custody. Cables released by WikiLeaks last year revealed suspicions by US diplomats that Karzai was involved in Afghan’s opium trade. After one meeting with US envoy Frank Ruggiero in September 2009, the diplomat said of Karzai, known by the acronym “AWK”: “While we must deal with AWK as the head of the provincial council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker.” (AFP, ABC, MSNBC World Blog, July 12)
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