Karzai Responds to ‘Bags of CIA Money’ Allegations

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, greets Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Brussels, Belgium, April 24, 2013.

The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai says it received what it calls a “small amount” of money from the U.S. government over the past decade, in addition to the billions Washington has spent on Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

Monday’s statement from Kabul came in response to aNew York Times article that said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had delivered bags stuffed with money to President Karzai’s office throughout the last 10 years, allegedly for influence in Afghanistan.


Khalil Roman, who served as President Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005 and is quoted in the article, confirmed to VOA the existence of what he called “ghost money,” but he said he did not know what it was used for.

According to Karzai’s office, the assistance has been used for “different objectives,” including assistance to injured and sick Afghans.  There was no mention of the CIA in the statement, and the White House refused to comment.

The New York Times details a total of tens of millions of dollars reportedly “packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags” and delivered “every month or so” to the Afghan president’s office.  However, the newspaper article mentions that there was no evidence uncovered that Karzai received any of the money personally.

In 2010, the New York Times first reported that Iran had been sending millions of dollars to Karzai’s chief of staff.  The newspaper said the Afghan leader and his staff were using foreign cash to secure the loyalty of Afghan lawmakers, tribal leaders and even Taliban commanders.

Tehran dismissed the article as “ridiculous and insulting,” before later acknowledging that it had been sending money to Kabul for years to aid reconstruction in the country.

After that article, President Karzai admitted that his office had received cash payments from “various friendly countries,” including Iran and the United States.  However, the Obama administration denied giving Afghanistan what it called “bags of cash.”