The Afghan government handed over one million American dollars to Al Qaeda to help pay the ransom for the release of one of its diplomats.
The New York Times reported Saturday that the Afghan government made the ransom payment, totaling $5 million in 2010 for the release of Abdul Khaliq Farahi, who had been kidnapped in 2008.
Farahi was serving as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan at the time of his capture by Al Qaeda and had close personal ties to then-President Hamid Karzai.
The Afghan government used $1 million from a secret fund, bankrolled by the CIA with monthly cash deliveries to the presidential palace in Kabul. Other countries, including Pakistan and Iran, provided the remaining $4 million.
The payment of American cash for Farahi came to light due to the cache of computers and documents seized by Navy SEALs during the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Within the treasure trove of information was correspondence between Bin Laden and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a high ranking Al Qaeda leader.
Rahman wrote Bin Laden that, “God blessed us with a good amount of money this month.” He wrote also that he intended to use it to buy more arms and other operational needs, and to support the families of those being held in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden wrote back to be careful with the American money. “There is a possibility — not a very strong one — that the Americans are aware of the money delivery” and might use aerial surveillance to track it. He also encouraged Rahman to exchange the money at banks at least twice to get it to the desired currency. “The reason for doing that is to be on the safe side in case harmful substances or radiation is put on paper money,” Bin Laden wrote.
The correspondence between Rahman and Bin Laden became declassified when offered as evidence in the trial of Al Qaeda operative Abid Naseer, who was convicted this month in a Brooklyn court of supporting terrorism. Rahman was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
Payments to the Afghan government of between a few hundred thousand to over $1 million per month continued to be dropped off at the presidential palace until Karzai left office last September. He used the cash to help fund the vast patronage that kept him in power.
An Afghan official said the American CIA cash flow has slowed, but continues to trickle in.
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