Doubts raised about Afghan death probe
Relatives believe Karzai doesn’t want justice done
BALTIMORE - American and Afghan relatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai cast doubt yesterday on his government’s move to investigate the slaying of a young Karzai family member, saying the Afghan government does not want to bring the suspected killer to justice in part because of his US military connections.
Karzai said yesterday in Kabul that he has asked Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry to investigate the slaying of a young relative in a possible revenge killing connected to a family feud.
Relatives of the president, including the slain teenager’s father, said they believe Karzai’s government has little interest in bringing the suspect to justice. Mohammad Suliman Karzai, a cousin who lives in Brookeville, Md., said yesterday that he had contacted the FBI for help and had been interviewed by a federal agent. FBI officials would not discuss whether the agency was involved in the case.
The October killing of 18-year-old Waheed Karzai in southern Afghanistan attracted little attention before it was reported this week by The New York Times. Karzai was asked about it yesterday during a news conference with the visiting NATO chief, and said he had turned the matter over to the Interior Ministry.
The Times report raised questions about whether Karzai’s administration was trying to downplay the killing and whether powerful families could escape investigation, a sensitive issue amid rising concerns about corruption and impunity in Karzai’s government.
Waheed Karzai was shot to death Oct. 16 in Karz, the president’s hometown in Kandahar province. He was the son of one of the president’s cousins, Yar Mohammad Karzai.
Relatives believe one of the president’s first cousins, Hashmat Karzai, shot the teenager as revenge for a so-called honor killing - a murder spurred by a marriage-related insult - that Yar Mohammad Karzai, 62, allegedly committed three decades ago.
Hashmat Karzai, 40, could not immediately be reached for comment, but he told the Times that he did not kill Waheed and that the slaying was carried out by drug dealers who mistakenly went to the wrong house.
The Afghan leader said yesterday that it was not yet clear what had happened.
“Anything can be possible, so we will have to wait and investigate if the truth is this, that an accident occurred . . . or there is something else going on that’s more conspiratorial. We don’t know,’’ Hamid Karzai said.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Zemeri Bashary, said Karzai ordered the ministry to begin investigating the killing Sunday, the same day the newspaper report was published.
He said counterterrorism police and criminal investigators were assisting local officials, who began looking into the killing earlier.
Yar Mohammad Karzai said he was frustrated the president took so long to acknowledge the slaying. “He did not even give me a condolence call,’’ he said.
He and his relatives believe the government is trying to cover up the slaying because of Hashmat Karzai’s connections to the president and the United States. Hashmat Karzai heads the Afghanistan-based Asia Security Group, which guards five US military bases in the country.
Hekmat Karzai, Hashmat’s younger brother, runs the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, a Kabul-based think tank that supports the government.
Colonel Wayne Shanks, a US military spokesman, declined to comment on the feud allegations.