By Arab News
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, one of the most powerful and controversial men in southern Afghanistan, was shot dead at his home on Tuesday by a senior and highly trusted bodyguard.
Ahmad Wali Karzai may have been an embarrassment to the Americans and his brother Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but he was the dealmaker on whom they counted to stand against the Taleban in its spiritual home.
Analysts said his assassination represents a political as well as personal setback for the president and could threaten gains made in southern Afghanistan by tens of thousands of US troops.
Ahmad Wali Karzai was accused of corruption and ties to the opium trade, but always denied any wrongdoing and was strongly supported by his brother whose influence he shored up in the south. President Karzai may find his reach there is now limited as a power struggle plays out among the possible successors to Ahmad Wali’s unofficial crown.
Ahmad Wali was shot dead by Sardar Mohammad, a senior member of the Karzai family’s security team in Kandahar who had known his victim for at least a decade. He was based at a compound in the village of Karz and traveled to Kandahar on Tuesday morning saying he had an application he needed to give his boss, Kandahar police chief Abdul Razeq said.
“The man carried his pistol through the security checks to Ahmad Wali’s room. As soon as Ahmad Wali came out of bathroom, he opened fire and shot him in the head and chest,” Razeq said.
Mohammad was shot dead by Karzai’s bodyguards moments after opening fire.
“My younger brother was martyred in his house today,” President Karzai said at a news conference in Kabul held with his visiting French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy.
At the news conference, Sarkozy announced France will pull out 1,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.
The killing was condemned by Karzai’s backers and neighbors including the commander of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, the US Embassy in Kabul and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.