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SIGAR finds Ghani and his advisors fled the country with less than $1 million

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(Last Updated On: June 8, 2022)

Washington’s oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction has found that allegations of theft of millions of dollars of cash by former president Ashraf Ghani and his senior advisors, at the time of their hurried departure, are likely untrue.

In the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) interim report on the theft of funds, which was published on Tuesday, the investigative team found that while some cash was taken from the grounds of the palace and loaded onto helicopters, that carried Ghani, his wife Rula, and senior staff members to Uzbekistan, evidence indicates that the amount of cash on board did not exceed $1 million and may have been closer in value to $500,000.

SIGAR also identified suspicious circumstances in which approximately $5 million in cash was allegedly left behind at the presidential palace. “The origins and purpose of this money are disputed, but it was supposedly divided by members of the Presidential Protective Service” after the helicopters departed but before the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) captured the palace. 

SIGAR examined other examples of alleged theft by senior Afghan officials as the government collapsed, including tens of millions of dollars from the operating budget of the National Directorate of Security.

Although there appears to have been ample opportunity and effort to plunder Afghan government coffers, “at this time SIGAR does not have sufficient evidence to determine with certainty whether hundreds of millions of dollars were removed from the country by Afghan officials as the government collapsed or whether any stolen money was provided by the United States,” the report read.

According to SIGAR, this is an interim report, as they are still waiting for responses to questions sent to Ghani.

“If forthcoming, those answers will be incorporated into a final report,” SIGAR stated.

Following the collapse of the former Afghan government, allegations were made that Ghani and his senior advisors fled Afghanistan with millions of dollars in cash loaded onto the helicopters that carried them from the presidential palace to Termez, Uzbekistan, on the afternoon of August 15, 2021.

“The hurried nature of their departure, the emphasis on passengers over cargo, the payload and performance limitations of the helicopters, and the consistent alignment in detailed accounts from witnesses on the ground and in the air all suggest that there was little more than $500,000 in cash on board the helicopters,” read the report. 

“That being said, it is likely that significant amounts of U.S. currency disappeared from Afghan government property in the chaos of the Taliban (IEA) takeover –  including $5million taken from the presidential palace and tens of millions taken from the vault at the National Directorate of Security,” SIGAR stated.

“Attempts to loot other government funds appear to have been common. Yet with Afghan government records and surveillance videos from those final days likely in Taliban (IEA) hands, SIGAR is currently unable to determine how much money was ultimately stolen, and by whom,” the report stated.

The Russian embassy in Kabul asserted in late August that there was $169 million on board the helicopters, and two days later the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Zahir Aghbar, echoed these claims in a press conference.

Aghbar also vowed to file a request with Interpol to arrest Ghani. However, Aghbar declined to sit for an interview with SIGAR or provide any evidence substantiating this claim.

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Stanikzai laments poor reading habits among Afghans

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2024)

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the political deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Sunday that the development of a country depends on reading, but reading habits in Afghanistan are very low.

Stanikzai made the remarks at a ceremony in Kabul to unveil books printed during the past 11 months.

“In Afghanistan, compared to other countries, people read very little. Maybe some people believe that there were many problems here, there was a war, the economy was weak and people are looking for bread and don’t have time to read, but these problems exist in other countries as well. If there is no war in other countries, there is poverty,” Stanikzai said.

He stated now that security is ensured in the country and there is no feudalism, youths should read under the shadow of the Islamic system, because without reading, success cannot be achieved.

“If youths become interested in reading and books, Allah willing, society will get rid of problems very soon. We Afghans have no equal on the battlefield. We have a lot of progress in this regard, and no one else has this honor. We should try to tell the world that with the takeover of the Islamic Emirate, there is peace and security in Afghanistan. There is no more war; there is no more feudalism; there is no more looting. There is an Islamic and Sharia system,” Stanikzai said.

He has also said that currently many books are imported from other countries, adding that scientific and research institutions and authors of the country should try to write books themselves.

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Afghan national arrested over death of three women in Austria

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2024)

Austrian police have arrested a 27-year-old Afghan national suspected of killing three women in a brothel in the capital, Vienna, on Friday.

BBC News reported that the victims were stabbed to death, and the suspect was found hiding near the brothel with a knife in his hand.

The motive for the killings is currently unclear but the man has been questioned.

Another woman and her daughter were killed in an unrelated incident in Vienna in a 24-hour period. Investigators believe the girl’s father was responsible.

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Acting FM Muttaqi leaves for Turkmenistan

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2024)

Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi has left for Turkmenistan for talks with officials of the neighboring country, it was announced Sunday.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on his X that Muttaqi, leading a delegation, traveled to Turkmenistan at the invitation of Rashid Murdov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, to discuss bilateral issues.

The delegation includes also officials of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Railway Authority and Da Afghanistan Brehshna Sherkat.

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