The Taliban is claiming the assassination today of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother as “one of our biggest achievements” since the U.S. invasion in 2001. But that does not mean they actually had anything to do with the murder.
As the Washington Post notes, the Taliban did not offer any proof that it was behind the assassination, and often claims credit for attacks it did not commit.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, a local power broker in southern Afghanistan, was shot and killed by a body guard as he entertained guests in his Kandahar home this morning. The body guard was himself killed immediately after.
The shooter, known to be a close associate of Karzai’s, “was tasked long ago to kill Ahmed Wali Karzai and finally today at around 11, he succeeded in killing him at his house with a pistol,” the Taliban spokesman claimed.
The younger Karzai was widely suspected of corruption and involvement in Afghanistan’s extensive drug trade, though he received payments from the C.I.A. for many years in exchange for “a variety of services,” according to a scathing report in the New York Times two years ago.
Jessica Rettig, writing for U.S. News & World Report, notes that Karzai trusted the shooter, Sardar Mohammed, enough to be alone in a room with him while the body guard was armed:
“Though the Taliban claimed it as their own victory, reports indicate that the murder came, at least in part, from within the upper echelons of the nation’s power structure…It’s possible that the Taliban pressured him to commit the murder, but it’s also likely that his motivations came from elsewhere or were personal.”
Karzai played a key role in ousting insurgents from Kandahar province, previously their stronghold.
One United States official acknowledged to a Washington Post reporter that though Karzai’s death means the loss of a key U.S. ally in southern Afghanistan, it also clears up some messy issues for American involvement in the country.
“Ahmed Wali had come to symbolise a pattern of public corruption, abuse of power, and impunity,” the official said. “Now everything has changed. There is at least a possibility for more constructive local leadership to step up.”
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