Afghan Airline Ferrying Opium, US Alleges
An Afghan airline is allegedly ferrying opium on civilian flights, causing the United States to blacklist Afghanistan’s largest private airline.
Kam Air is reportedly smuggling “bulk” quantities of the drug to Tajikistan. From there, the opium is distributed to the rest of the world.
The private airline was barred from receiving US military contracts by US Central Command chief Marine General James Mattis, according to a statement by US military officials.
The Wall Street Journal reports that US Army Major-General Richard Longo, who commands Task Force 2010, stated:
“The US will do no business with those who fund and support illicit activities. Kam Air is too large of a company not to know what has been going on within its organization.”
Kam Air’s president and founder, Zamari Kamgar, rejects the allegations, according to Newser. Kamgar called them a likely ploy by competitors. The airline has been discussing merger options with Arian Afghan Airlines.
Western leaders fear that Afghan drug money could become fundamental to the unstable country’s economy. The move to blacklist the Afghan airline comes as a move that underscores growing concerns among Western officials that the drug trade in Afghanistan is taking an increasingly open role in the Middle Eastern nation’s economy.
General Longo added that his task force, which is an anti-corruption unit, investigated Kam Air, but that details of the investigation are classified. Meanwhile, Kamgar stated that it’s impossible for the airline to get illegal drugs through security checks at Afghan airports.
Kamgar also expects that the Kam Air-Arian deal will go through. He believes that his management team will take over the combined entity.