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FACTBOX-Afghan president's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 12 Jul 2011 20:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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KABUL, July 12 (Reuters) - Ahmad Wali Karzai, a brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and one of the most powerful men in southern Afghanistan, was shot dead on Tuesday, apparently by one of his bodyguards, officials said. [ID:nL3E7IC1E6]

Here are some details about him:

* Born in 1961, Ahmad Wali Karzai was a younger half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He was an ethnic Pashtun and an elder from the Popalzai tribe.

* He used to own an Afghan restaurant close to Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

He described his restaurant "as a hub for Americans in the Midwest who had worked or lived in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion," according to a leaked U.S. cable on a meeting Karzai had with U.S. officials.

* Hamid and Amhad Wali Karzai's father was assassinated in 1999 while in exile in Pakistan.

* He moved to the southwestern Pakistani city Quetta around the year 2000 to be with his brother Hamid, said Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid, an expert on the Taliban.

"He played a very prominent role in Karzai's departure for Afghanistan after (the Sept. 11 attacks)," Rashid said. "He was very, very loyal to Hamid ... he arranged the money for Hamid to go in by borrowing and taking money for various supporters they had."

He said Ahmad Wali Karzai had one wife and five children -- two daughters and three sons -- aged between two months and seven years. He said Ahmad Wali Karzai had been a big football fan.

* Ahmad Wali Karzai served as his brother's special envoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar since the president came to power after U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Islamist Taliban government in late 2001.

* He was elected to the Kandahar Provincial Council in 2005 and became head of the council -- a largely consultative role which normally carries limited influence -- but his power came from his tribal and family connections and the fortune he accumulated.

* Ahmad Wali Karzai has been accused of amassing a fortune from the drugs trade, intimidating rivals and having links to the CIA -- charges he strongly denied and which the Afghan president says have never been proven.

* In October 2009, The New York Times reported Ahmad Wali Karzai had been getting regular payments from the CIA. He denied the charges.

* At a U.S. congressional hearing in December 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States had problems with the president's half-brother but that his dominant presence had taken on added importance for Washington as efforts began to win "hearts and minds" in Kandahar.

* In March last year, U.S. officials said they were watching Ahmad Wali Karzai's activities closely. They even went so far as to warn him at least once that he could be placed on a target list -- the Joint Prioritized Engagement List -- if he were found to be providing arms or assistance to insurgents, a senior U.S. military official said. But the official added at the time: "We're not going in that direction."

* There had been several previous attempts on Ahmad Wali Karzai's life during the past decade.

In May 2009, he said he had been ambushed on the road to Kabul by Taliban insurgents, who killed one of his bodyguards. He told Reuters at the time he was roughly an hour's drive from the capital in the volatile district of Sarobi.

In November 2008, he escaped unscathed from an attack on government buildings in his home province which killed six and wounded at least 40.

In June 2003, an explosion outside Ahmad Wali Karzai's home shattered some windows, but there were no casualties. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Nick Macfie and Paul Simao)

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