The other day our friend Metem brought to my attention a story that had made it to the Project Censored list, ‘US Funds & Supports Taliban.’ Here are two excerpts from the introduction which are related to our coverage of the mysterious helicopter activities in northern Afghanistan.
In a continuous flow of money, American tax dollars end up paying members of the Taliban and funding a volatile environment in Afghanistan. Private contractors pay insurgents with the hope of attaining the very safety they are contracted to provide. Concurrently, US soldiers pay at checkpoints run by suspected insurgents in order to get safe passage. In some cases, Afghan companies run by former Taliban members, like President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, are protecting the passage of American soldiers. The funding of the insurgents, along with rumors of American helicopters ferrying Taliban members in Afghanistan, has led to widespread distrust of American forces. In the meantime, the US taxpayer’s dollar continues to fund insurgents to protect American troops so they can fight insurgents.
Ahmad Rate Popal is a grand example of how those who controlled Afghanistan under Taliban rule are still controlling Afghanistan today and being paid by US tax dollars. Popal, who served as interpreter at one of the ruling Taliban’s last press conferences, is greatly increasing his wealth through the US war in Afghanistan. In 1988, he was charged with conspiring to import heroin into the United States. He was released from prison in 1997. Popal’s cousin is Afghanistan’s President Karzai. Popal and his brother Rashid (who pleaded guilty in 1996 to a separate heroin charge) control the Watan Group in Afghanistan, which is a consortium engaged in many different fields of business. One of Watan’s enterprises is to protect convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies. Popal is one example of the virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers in Afghanistan joining hands with former Taliban members and mujahideen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.
Okay, that’s what the article is about but it isn’t what got my attention. Here is what I’m getting at:
An example of these contracts are those granted to the NCL Holdings in Afghanistan run by Hamed Wardak, the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak. NCL is a small firm that was awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the fact that the firm only operates in Afghanistan, Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, due to his connections there.
On NCL’s advisory board is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer who in 2009 was introduced by Senator John Kerry as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” Bearden is an incredible asset to a small defense contracting firm. Wardak was able to get a contract for Host Nation Trucking despite having no apparent trucking experience. The contract is aimed at handling the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to bases and remote outposts throughout Afghanistan. At first the contract was small, but very quickly it expanded by 600 percent, making it a gargantuan contract worth $360 million. NCL had struck pure contracting gold. These profits, which only go to a very select and well-connected portion of the Afghan people, build a large amount of distrust from Afghan citizens toward American troops and those connected to them.
And, this is the part where Project Censored for whatever reason didn’t go one step further:
Since our initial search of corporate media coverage on this issue in February 2010, finding zero coverage at that time, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have covered part of the story on their front pages. Both mentioned President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, and both acknowledged that in all likelihood money is making its way to the Taliban. Neither paper mentioned the US connection, Milton Bearden. The Washington Postcovered the story on March 29, 2010, and mentioned the Nation magazine article. The New York Times story came out on June 6, 2010, acknowledging the corruption, but included the news that President Obama was addressing the issue with President Karzai. That the two stories came out two months apart, and that the US links are left out, led to the decision at Project Censored to keep this important story in the top censored stories list for the year.
Way back when, I wrote a couple of pieces on a few of these personalities that have been totally, and intentionally, overlooked by the mainstream media and the like. Do you remember our piece on General Wardak, his son Hamed Wardak, ex CIA operative with a fairly dubious history, and an ex- congressman in the ‘laundering’ business? Let me refresh your memory:
As the bodies in Afghanistan are piling up and the number of wounded keeps escalating, while Washington is buzzing with the long-known but selectively-buried corrupt and criminal past and present of our installed government officials there, some are cashing in on both sides, and some are paving the way to the next pot(s) of gold reserved for carpetbaggers and war-profiteers in every war or conflict. In this game there always are a few known names and faces who are publicized and who draw the spotlight, and there are those who enjoy operating and profiting quietly without drawing deserved attention and needed scrutiny. That’s how Washington’s war and conflict machine works, and that’s’ the way our foreign policy decisions are influenced and made. I am going to introduce one such character as an introduction to my upcoming longer story on this same topic. Ladies and gentlemen please meet our Neocon Ex Congressman, Don Ritter, and be informed of his new lucrative ‘Laundering Business’ in Afghanistan.
Let’s go back to Mr. Ritter’s entrepreneurial ventures in Afghanistan. His self aggrandizing website has this to say:
“Don is the U.S. investor and Chairman of the U.S. – Afghan company that built and operates the most modern laundry and dry cleaning plant in the region to serve the population of Kabul and execute military and government contracts. He is also currently engaged in building a mountain lodge tourism industry in the Panjshir Valley, a mini-mill for steel products for the Afghan construction boom in Herat, a business development services company in Kabul and an Afghan-American prime contractor to compete for large construction contracts.”
For the real juice on Mr. Ritter’s business dealings, my highly informed sources point me to Afghanistan’s current Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. The Afghan diaspora in DC name Wardak as one of the key figures in the highly lucrative Poppy & heroin market; albeit in hushed voices. I can’t fathom the feasibility and profitability of a laundry and dry-cleaning business in Afghanistan owned and operated by a Neocon former congressman. What is Mr. Ritter ‘laundering?’
Please do me a favor and read the brief piece here
After that piece I wrote a much longer related piece (okay, much much longer; the usual ‘Sibel length’!) which introduced you further to General Wardak, his son-Hamed Wardak, and Ex CIA operative, Milton Bearden. Again, a few excerpts follow:
Once upon a time there was man named Milton Bearden, commonly referred to as Milt. He spent his early years in the state of Washington where his father worked on the Manhattan Project. After a few years with the US Air Force he joined the CIA in 1964.
Milt was CIA’s chosen man for their operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, from 1986 to 1989, when our country was supporting the Mujahideen, he was one of their main men on the ground, working with this coalition of the Taliban, the Saudis and their main man Bin Laden, and the Pakistani ISI. The Director of the CIA ,William Casey, was the one who appointed Milt Bearden for this task. Here is Milt’s own words describing his importance in a not very unusual ex-CIA conceited manner:
Milt’s cushy CIA retirement and all those glowing medals must not have been enough, for he then engaged in frenzied marketing and self promotion to get himself entrenched in almost all major US networks and newspapers as a consultant, writer, advisor, and of course as a trusted source – a CIA source to provide quotes and information for scripts at the snap of a finger. He coauthored a book with New York Times reporter James Risen called State of War. Whether this kind of business arrangement, where a commonly used source partners up with a reporter, presents a conflict of interest or even could be called incestuous, is everyone else’s call.
Most interestingly Mr. Bearden seemed to have lured in the American mainstream media by presenting himself as an outspoken critique of the Bush White House Intelligence policies after the September 11 terrorists’ attack. He suddenly became a major spokesperson on ‘how we created this monster called Osama Bin Laden,’ and the nasty radical Taliban. And the mainstream media couldn’t get enough of him. Ironically, he happened to be the man after William Casey and Neocons’ Jeane Kirkpatrick’s own hearts in creating the Bin Laden monster, bolstering the radical Taliban brand of Islamism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and kosherizing all dirty deeds as means to justify the end(s). He didn’t get those medals or promotions for nothing!
Our General Wardak disappeared from the Afghan scene at the beginning of the civil war in the 1990s. He brought his family to the United States where he settled comfortably with enough wealth from undetermined sources, and he enrolled his son, Hamed, in Georgetown University.
The Karzai brothers took a great interest in Wardak Junior, and he enjoyed the benefits of the Karzais’ flashy and high-flying friends. After the September 11 Terror Attacks, the Karzais made Hamed the Vice President of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, which was founded by Mahmood Karzai. As I mentioned briefly in my piece, our Neocon Ex-Congressman Don Ritter happens to be the co-founder of this organization. Hamed was also appointed to an advisor’s post with President Karzai’s first Finance Minister, Ashraf Ghani. No small accomplishment for the barely 30 year old Hamed!
Hamed Wardak’s most productive venture in tapping into the US Defense Sector Pot(s) of Gold began with joining a Washington DC contracting firm, Technologists Inc., founded by Aziz Azimi, who happened to be a very close buddy of Qayum Karzai. Here is a further detail on this by e-Ariana:
“Hamed Wardak’s new alliances proved extraordinarily advantageous as George W. Bush launched his “war on terror,” particularly with Khalilzad and Strmecki enjoying direct access to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office.”
Do you want to check out the kind of contracts, the kind of millions, we are talking about with Technologists Inc.? Here is one for you:
Technologists, Inc., Rosslyn, Va., was awarded on Jan. 5, 2009, a $96,090,519 firm fixed price contract for the construction of an Afghanistan National Police National Training Center. Work will be performed in Maydan Wardak, Afghanistan, and is expected to be completed by Mar. 31, 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Oct. 1, 2008, and 13 bids were received. U.S. Army Engineer District, Afghanistan, is the contracting activity (W917PM-09-C-0005).
That’s right. Just one of these contracts is worth nearly $100 million for connected Afghan carpetbaggers cashing in on wars suffered by ordinary American tax payers and US soldiers.
Here is one of our characters who hasn’t made an appearance for several pages: Milt Bearden, the EX-CIA Rambo in Afghanistan in the 80s, the US media darling on Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban…you name it, the shrewd self promoter with books and movies:
Milt Bearden must have been pretty familiar with our General Wardak since he was on the ground in Afghanistan serving his masters at the CIA and the Whitehouse, including the great advocator of ‘use any means,’ our Godmother of Neocons, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Operation Cyclone must certainly have brought him in contact with involved Taliban Generals, including our General, Osama Bin Laden, and other key ISI operators, and his dealings must certainly have included the major heroin operations tapped into to further fund these ‘freedom fighters.’ In fact, our Spook dealt extensively with Hekmatyar, who is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Heroin Operator in Afghanistan – which supplies 90% of the world’s Heroin:
“One U.S. official who had considerable dealings with Mr. Hekmatyar was Milt Bearden, who during the Soviet occupation ran the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program in Afghanistan. He says Mr. Hekmatyar struck him as “quirky and paranoid.””
Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our Ex-Spook took an interest in our General’s son, and translated this interest into a close business partnership when our young and chubby Hamed Wardak got closer and closer to big Pots of Gold in Washington DC and his father made it to the Defense Minister position in Afghanistan.
After Hamed Wardak left Technologists Inc. to go further in tapping the US Defense Contractor Gold Pots, and to set up various other front businesses in Afghanistan, many of which happen to be in security sectors, he formed a new front organization, Campaign for a US-Afghan Partnership. Guess who he appointed as the top man for the Board of this ambigious organization? That’s right, none other than our ex-spook, media supplier, Milton Bearden. Check out his glowing background listed on Hamed Wardak’s organization’s website: click here. What exactly this organization does, no one really knows, which should go as another credit to our Mr. Bearden’s CIA background in keeping things convoluted and secretive.
Rumors from the Ex-CIA community in the DC area point to another highly lucrative Wardak company paid by US tax payers, NCL, in Kabul, and hint that their buddy Milt may have been playing a major role there. Because of Mr. Bearden’s cozy relationships no one in the media has been looking for these deeper engagements and lucrative partnerships between him and Hamed Wardak.
You can read the entire piece on Bearden-Wardak and more here. Come on Project Censored! Why not talk about this ex spook’s intimate relationship with the New York Times?! Not only has he been their revered source, but he is the partner of their top reporter. How could James Risen partner up with him (financially, in the publicity arena…), and still he and others use Bearden as their valued source and in many cases as their only source?! As for The Washington Post: this would fall within the coverage area of our infamous Walter Pincus. Yes, I’m talking about the long ago exposed Pincus from Operation Mockingbird, and the father of Pincus Junior who happens to be an attorney for the infamous Black Water (aka XE and several other nicknames).
Last week I wrote a piece on the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus which briefly covered the Mysterious Helicopter Activities in Northern Afghanistan. Using a tad of common sense we checked out the strategically important neighbors in this region where these officially denied (vehemently, that is) mysterious activities took place, and one of the three countries of interest was Tajikistan. Here are a few related articles dealing with our topic and Tajikistan.
Also last week Asia Times ran the following convoluted piece on Tajikistan. The piece is filled with speculations, interpretations, and even wild guesses:
As Tajik government forces continue a security sweep to crush armed groups in the eastern mountains after losing 25 soldiers in an ambush, analysts are divided on the reasons for this resurgence in militant activity.
Enquiries by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) indicate that the resistance is coming from local paramilitary forces led by guerrilla leaders from Tajikistan’s 1992-97 civil war.
Claims by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, a militant group allied with the Taliban, that it was behind the attack are probably not entirely accurate but may contain a grain of truth, as the IMU has contacts with the Tajik groups and may have sent emissaries to encourage them to rise up.
And here is another opinion:
The Tajik Defense Ministry and the State Committee for National Security said the latest ambush was the work of a militant group led by Mirzohoja Ahmadov – a former police officer – also including the warlords Mullo Abdullo and Alloviddin Davlatov. This group, they added, had been recruiting young men for terrorist training.
And here is another:
The story got more complicated when the IMU, believed to be based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, announced that it had carried out the attack.
This claim was made in a video recording sent to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik service showing a man who identified himself as Abdufattoh Ahmadi, an IMU spokesman. In the recording, he said the attack was retaliation for Tajik government policies
such as closing mosques…
There are several other guesses and interpretations, and you can read them all here
And the following piece was written last year dealing with the same topic but a bit more ‘pure’ than the one above:
Speculation is rife that Islamic militants are once again active in the eastern mountains of Tajikistan. No one in government will confirm media reports that the military units deployed in force in the region are hunting a warlord from the 1992-97 civil war known as Mullo Abdullo, who has allegedly spent the last few years with Taleban allies in Afghanistan and more recently Pakistan.
The official version is that police are conducting a major sweep to stop the trade in opium and its derivative heroin in the Rasht valley, which cuts through inaccessible mountains and was a stronghold of opposition support throughout the civil war. According to interior ministry spokesman Mahmadullo Asadulloev, “The objective of this operation, which will continue until the end of November, is to tackle opium poppy cultivation and combat drug traffickers in the valley, 150 to 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe.”
CLASHES WITH “MUJAHEDIN”
For weeks, there was circumstantial evidence that the authorities were doing more than that – the sheer scale of the operation, reports that three policemen died in a firefight, and separately, the arrests of several former associates of the guerrilla leader now living in other parts of Tajikistan.
IWPR has spoken to a serviceman in an elite interior ministry unit that was among the first to be sent in, around May 21.
Now back in the capital Dushanbe after his unit was rotated out and replaced with fresh troops, he confirmed the government forces were in action against armed men. Officially, he said, they were indeed part of the Opium-2009 operation, but in fact their task was to patrol mountain tracks paths to intercept militants or as he called them, “mujahedin”.
This man said troops were deployed after the authorities got wind that a group of Islamic militants had infiltrated the area from Afghanistan, with which Tajikistan shares a long and in places porous border.
Analysts in Tajikistan are now trying to figure out whether the armed men who have been sighted really are grouped around Mullo Abdullo, and if so, what they are up to in the Rasht valley.
Political expert Parviz Mullojonov explains how hard it is to establish facts out of the various reports and rumours.“The only things the majority of sources agree on are first, that a group led by Mullo Abdullo has appeared in the region from neighbouring Afghanistan,” he told IWPR. “Secondly, that the government’s opium operation is in some way connected with the appearance of this group of militants.”
One possibility, Mullojonov believes, is that Central Asian militants allied with the Taleban are finding life increasingly uncomfortable in Pakistan. The Taleban in Waziristan, where the IMU is also present, are under pressure from the Pakistani military and United States drone aircraft attacks.“It is more than likely that under these circumstances, a number of groups will be forced to return to Central Asia and become more active in the region – even they are not ready for large-scale operations,” said Mullojonov.
Jakypbek Azizov, who heads the ministry’s public security department, told a press conference that the forces had been sent in because of a “complex situation in border areas”, which was a consequence of developments in Afghanistan and the possibility that militants had infiltrated neighbouring states. It was unclear whether he was referring to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan.
Okay, since everyone is speculating we should go ahead and add ours into this pot. You first J.
Pepe Escobar on China’s Pipelineistan War
My favorite journalist, Pepe Escobar, had an excellent comprehensive piece on the China-Turkmenistan deal. I strongly encourage you to read it. Here are selected excerpts from the article titled China’s Pipelineistan War:
Future historians may well agree that the 21st century Silk Road first opened for business on Dec. 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Hyperbole did not deter the spectacularly named Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan’s president, from bragging, “This project has not only commercial or economic value. It is also political. China, through its wise and farsighted policy, has become one of the key guarantors of global security.”
The bottom line is that, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying economic heights courtesy of natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia Pipeline, then projected to be operating at full capacity. And to think that, in a few more years, China’s big cities will undoubtedly also be getting a taste of Iraq’s fabulous, barely tapped oil reserves, conservatively estimated at 115 billion barrels, but possibly closer to 143 billion barrels, which would put it ahead of Iran. When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind.
China’s economy is thirsty, and so it’s drinking deeper and planning deeper yet. It craves Iraq’s oil and Turkmenistan’s natural gas, as well as oil from Kazakhstan. Yet instead of spending more than a trillion dollars on an illegal war in Iraq or setting up military bases all over the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, China used its state oil companies to get some of the energy it needed simply by bidding for it in a perfectly legal Iraqi oil auction.
Chinese companies have invested a staggering $120 billion in Iran’s energy sector over the past five years. Already Iran is China’s number two oil supplier, accounting for up to 14 percent of its imports; and the Chinese energy giant Sinopec has committed an additional $6.5 billion to building oil refineries there. Due to harsh U.N.-imposed and American sanctions and years of economic mismanagement, however, the country lacks the high-tech know-how to provide for itself, and its industrial structure is in a shambles. The head of the National Iranian Oil Company, Ahmad Ghalebani, has publicly admitted that machinery and parts used in Iran’s oil production still have to be imported from China.
I’ll end with Pepe’s last paragraph…
For the moment, Beijing’s strategic priority has been to carefully develop a remarkably diverse set of energy-suppliers – a flow of energy that covers Russia, the South China Sea, Central Asia, the East China Sea, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. (China’s forays into Africa and South America will be dealt with in a future installment of our TomDispatch tour of the globe’s energy hotspots.) If China has so far proven masterly in the way it has played its cards in its Pipelineistan “war”, the U.S. hand – bypass Russia, elbow out China, isolate Iran – may soon be called for what it is: a bluff.
…and encourage you again to go and read the entire informative piece here.