US blacklists Afghan airline for opium trafficking

One of Afghanistan’s top airlines has been officially blacklisted by US authorities for allegedly trafficking opium on civilian flights, the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 25. Kam Air is said to be smuggling “bulk” quantities of the drug to Tajikistan, a major export route to international markets. US Army Maj.-Gen. Richard Longo, commander of Task Force 2010, a coalition anti-corruption unit,  stated: “The US will do no business with those who fund and support illicit activities. Kam Air is too large of a company not to know what has been going on within its organization.” Gen. Longo confirmed that his task force has conducted an investigation into Kam Air but said details remain classified. The airline remains barred from US contracts, even as Kam Air is in talks to merge with Afghanistan’s state-owned carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines.

“I totally deny the allegations,” Kam Air’s president and founder, Zamari Kamgar, said after being told of the US decision.  The Afghan government is also defending the airline, demanding to see proof of any wrongdoing and raising a rare threat of legal action. (NYT, Jan. 30; WSJ, Jan. 29; WSJ, The InquisitrNewser, Jan. 25)