Washington, DC – Ahman Samim Sediqi of Kabul, Afghanistan, was tried and sentenced in a local Afghan court on forgery and embezzlement charges stemming from his work on a development project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced USAID Office of Inspector General spokeswoman Dona M. Dinkler.
A three-judge panel found Sediqi guilty of embezzling nearly $193,000 while working as a finance coordinator on a $229 million local governance program financed by USAID and implemented by an American contractor. The program is intended to assist provincial governments and improve stability within the provinces by supporting public administration and governance and promoting community development. On August 2, 2010, the court sentenced Sediqi to 7½ years in prison as prescribed by the Afghan Penal Code-2 years for the falsification of income and rental tax deposit receipts, for which payment was never made, and5½ years for embezzlement of funds. The defendant is also required to pay $160,000 in fines.
Sediqi was responsible for depositing the American contractor’s monthly tax payments to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance into a local bank account. When the Ministry reported that it had not received the payments, an investigation was initiated. Local law enforcement officials, aided by investigators from USAID’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), discovered that the bank deposit slips Sediqi had submitted to the contractor to prove he had made the payments were not legitimate. Sediqi was arrested on May 11, 2010.
USAID OIG investigators in Afghanistan work closely with local law enforcement authorities in an effort to hold accountable Afghan citizens who engage in criminal misconduct while working on USAID projects.
President Obama will officially declare an end to combat operations in Iraq tomorrow. Also winding down is the massive reconstruction effort there. The U.S. has spent more than $53 billion on projects ranging from new schools and hospitals to Iraq’s energy grid.
There have been some successes, but Stuart Bowen, the special inspector for Iraq reconstruction, says there’s also been tremendous waste: between four and five billion dollars have been spent on hundreds of unfinished or ineffective projects. That’s about 10 percent of the total spent on Iraqi reconstruction. I asked Stuart Bowen what was the most notorious example of waste in the Iraqi reconstruction.
A federal magistrate has ruled that a lawsuit by Oregon Army National Guard veterans against contractor Kellogg Brown & Root can continue.
U.S. District Magistrate Paul Papak denied KBR’s second motion to dismiss the suit on Monday.
In 2009, 26 Oregon Guard veterans sued KBR, saying its managers downplayed or dismissed the presence of a toxic chemical. The veterans were among hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq who were potentially exposed to sodium dichromate, which contains hexavalent chromium.
The Oregon soldiers and others were protecting KBR workers at a water-treatment plant in Iraq beginning in May 2003 when they say they were exposed to the chemical.
KBR denies wrongdoing. Spokeswoman Heather Browne on Monday said the company was disappointed in the ruling.
In September 2007 the U.S. Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) awarded Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) a five-year-contract worth up to $414 million to provide 1,691 translators in Afghanistan. MEP was a start-up company created by three men, including Chad Monnin, a U.S. Army Special Forces reservist who was injured in a parachute accident. (Procurement rules give preference to companies owned by injured veterans, even if they have no prior experience.)
When the Obama administration decided to expand the war in Afghanistan last year, MEP quickly hit the ceiling of what it could bill. On May 10, INSCOM gave MEP a $679 million extension without bothering to put it up for competitive bid. MEP will also get a share of the Intelligence Support Services Omnibus III contract, a five-year contract, with a ceiling of $492 million, announced on August 10, 2010.
The only two other contractors that have held multi-billion dollar contracts to supply translators to soldiers and diplomats in the Global War on Terror — L-3/Titan and Global Linguist Services — have both been investigated for alleged overcharging, suggesting that this type of work falls in the high risk category of government spending.
Yet DCAA failed to conduct a full business systems audit for MEP. Concerned about DCAA’s failure, Christopher Shays, one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting told MEP CEO Chris Taylor: “You don’t have to compete for it, and you, whatever your costs are, you get something plus, and you haven’t had any audits.” Shays assured MEP that he was not suggesting that the company had done anything wrong, re-iterating that the commission considered MEP a “a great American success story.”
“We currently have DCAA auditors on our property in Columbus, Ohio, working through any number of audit issues. But we welcome it,” Taylor told the commission. “We are current on our 2008 and 2009 incurred-cost submissions,” he added, referring to the invoices that the company sends INSCOM for payment.
DCAA Director Patrick Fitzgerald told the hearing that the problem was that the contract grew quicker than expected. “Are we behind the curve? Yes. We should have been in there quicker,” he told commissioners. “Our experience has shown that when contractors grow that fast, the procedures, processes, and systems have trouble keeping up with that growth, increases the risk to the U.S. government.”
When asked to respond the charges leveled at DCAA at the hearing, a Pentagon spokesperson emailed the following statement to CorpWatch: “We agreed with the commission that additional resources were required at MEP and have worked to ensure that additional DCAA assets are directed to MEP.” The spokesperson estimated that it will complete “much of the critical audit work needed to assess MEP’s business systems within the next six months.”
Military auditors failed to complete an audit of the business systems of an Ohio-based contractor even though it had billed for $1 billion worth of work over the last four years, largely done in Afghanistan. Immediately after this fact came to light at a public hearing of the bi-partisan Commission on Wartime Contracting, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) scrambled to dispatch an extra ten staff to catch up on the job.
Mission Essential Personnel (MEP), which Corpwatch profiled here, supplies 6,000 translators to the U.S. military, mostly in Afghanistan. The company’s costs have not been singled out as questionable or unsupported, but the failure of the government agency to oversee taxpayer money is an indicator of widespread problems and staff shortages at this key military agency.
“How does the government know we’re getting our money’s worth?” asked Christopher Shays, co-chair of the commission and a former member of Congress from Connecticut, at the July 26 hearing.
“This was a major miss on DCAA’s part,” Michael Thibault, the other co-chair and a former deputy director of DCAA, told CorpWatch.
DCAA has oversight over half a trillion dollars of taxpayer money every year. It is supposed to constitute the “first line of defense” against corruption when the Pentagon contracts anything from bunker-buster-bombs from Lockheed Martin, to rockets from Boeing, or when it subcontracts military support operations as it did when it paid Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, to hire Sri Lankans to clean toilets in Iraq.
Despite past success – including exposing Halliburton’s inability to account for billions of dollars early in the occupation of Iraq – DCAA management has drawn fire in the last two years for giving military contractors a clean bill of health and ignoring serious problems in corporate financial systems spotted by lower ranked staff.
Whistleblowers have charged that instead of actively pursuing waste, fraud, and abuse, the top ranks of DCAA were obsessed with signing off on as many audits as possible in the shortest period of time. DCAA management has also been accused of harassing and intimidating staff who have spoken out. The DCAA estimates that the savings it has made for the taxpayer plummeted from $51 for each dollar spent on staff and overhead in 1984 to just $5 today.
Muzzling A Pentagon Watchdog
The first shot across DCAA’s bow was fired by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress. In a July 2008 report that provoked alarm among politicians, the GAO gave DCAA a failing grade for not complying with government standards on 14 major audits.
“This auditing agency has been exposed as being fundamentally corrupt in the way they issue audits,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Missouri state auditor, told her fellow senators in Congress at the time.
The agency’s lapses also sparked internal criticism and multiple internal upheavals as angry staffers battled management – notably in a public forum via the website of Government Executive magazine.
Then in September 2009 both the GOA and the Pentagon’s inspector general issued critical reports, and the Pentagon, after conducting confidential interviews with 68 DCAA staff, confirmed some allegations of staff harassment.
Founded in 1965 to provide the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, and Ordnance Department with uniform oversight of contractors was first headquartered in the now closed Alexandria, Virginia Cameron Station, a cold windowless building fitted with rows of steel gray desks.
Even in the days before computers and modern accounting techniques, its auditors were able to catch corrupt contractors and save millions. To do their jobs, the staff sometimes had to battle their own and Pentagon management who were reluctant to criticize the big contractors.
DCAA expanded quickly. By 1966, it had 3,662 staffers around the country with oversight over $21.5 billion. As the Vietnam War ramped up, the DCAA’s “Flying Squad” would fly Huey helicopters to forward bases in the jungle to check up on work done by contractors.
By the end of the 1980s DCAA had more than 6,000 staff and today, with headquarters in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, it has some 300 offices and sub-offices around the world. The agency’s staff still get on helicopters — now Blackhawks and Chinooks — in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait to visit forward bases and inspect contractor’s books. Although DCAA primarily serves the U.S. military, it also conducts audits for other agencies including the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In the last 45 years, DCAA’s oversight of contract dollars has expanded more than four-fold (adjusted for inflation) to $501 billion in proposed or claimed contractor costs that required 30,352 audits in 2008.
Not surprisingly the agency staff has struggled to keep up with demand, and as far back as the 1980s, it had a six to seven year backlog to complete audits. This lag had a major impact on payments to military contractors, which were typically paid just 85 percent of costs on delivery of services, with the remaining 15 percent paid out several years later — only if the auditors were satisfied. Please read the full article here
Some 2,000 Filipino workers currently in U.S. military bases and facilities in Iraq could stay in that war-torn country until their contracts expire and if their safety and eventual repatriation are guaranteed by their employers.
But the Philippines’ current total ban against the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq remains.
This “high-level decision” on how supposedly banned Filipino workers in Iraq are to be handled was reached by a governmental Inter-agency Task Force in Manila, following observations by Special Envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu.
The decision had been forwarded to the concerned U.S. authorities, through the Philippine embassies in Washington and Baghdad, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Cimatu was in and out of Iraq in the past weeks, against the backdrop of the first-phase withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by August 29 next week.
Following this policy of the administration of President Barack Obama, American job contractors have been directed to take stock of their workplaces, including their employment of Filipinos and Nepalese nationals who are banned by their respective countries from being in Iraq.
Philippine passports are stamped “Not Valid for Travel to Iraq” because of the high security risk there as the U.S. engages in anti-terrorism operations.
A July 20 memorandum of the U.S. Central Contracting Command (CENTCOM) in Iraq had given work contractors until August 9 for the ‘prompt repatriation’ of their Filipino workers out of Iraq, citing the latter’s presence as contrary to the laws of the U.S., Iraq and the Philippines.
Heeding Cimatu’s assessment, the Task Force decided that instead of repatriating the workers, albeit against their will, they were allowed to stay with guarantees from employers who were just too willing to retain them.
DFA said the decision could ‘be considered compliant’ with the memorandum signed by Col. Richard Nolan, senior contracting officer in Iraq of CENTCOM.
“Upon the approval of the high-level inter-agency committee mandated to assess the security situation of and ensure the safety and welfare of Filipino workers in Iraq, Filipino workers in U.S. military facilities may continue working there until their contracts expire,” DFA said.
“It’s a win-win situation for Filipinos who preferred to continue despite the risks and to their employer-contractors who saw a dire need for them,” according to a DFA source.
“The decision has the effect of ‘legitimating’ their stay, if only for a short while, despite the deployment ban,” another DFA source noted.
Given that scenario, Cimatu’s mission had been quite difficult, the source said. Add to this the workers’ hesitance to leave Iraq because of the good pay and limited job opportunities in the Philippines, they are willing to face the risk, the source added.
Cimatu could not be contacted, but it is reasonable to deduce that he figured out the 2,000 after meetings in Iraq with contractors, among others.
Sources said that about 10,000 Filipinos were discovered to have been left behind in Iraq by their previous employers, known as ‘jumpers’, at various contractor-controlled camps throughout Iraq.
But with only about 2,000 workers ‘legitimated’ by the Task Force, it is not clear from DFA what happened to the rest.
DFA continued: “According to the task force, Filipino workers currently employed by the U.S. government or their subcontractors inside U.S. military bases and facilities will be allowed to continue working in Iraq on the condition that their safety is assured and there will be guaranteed repatriation to the Philippines at the end of their engagement.”
Aside from DFA, other agencies in the Task Force are the Department of Labor and Employment, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Office of the Executive Secretary. Original Story here
To win hearts and minds in Afghanistan and Iraq, military experts want U.S. companies to contract with local firms for a variety of tasks like trucking, feeding troops, and providing security. The U.S. government’s “Afghan First” and “Iraqi First” initiatives increasingly seek to rely on local contractors, often through subcontracts, in part to stimulate their local economies.
But a host of investigations underscore the perils in the murky world of subcontracting with foreign firms, and the difficulties in making sure taxpayer dollars are well spent. Among the current and recent probes by the Pentagon, congressional panels, and federal investigators:
- Up to $300 million in subcontracts in Iraq and Kuwait were allegedly tainted by a Saudi-based subcontractor employee’s kickback scheme;
- Subcontracted security forces in Afghanistan are suspected of bribing both Taliban and Afghan government officials;
- U.S. money for a trash collection program in Iraq, administered by a bewildering array of subcontractors, has allegedly ended up in the pockets of insurgents; and
- A former contractor employee alleged that Middle Eastern subcontractors, trying to sway the award of more subcontracts, were sneaking prostitutes into Baghdad’s Green Zone by abusing their security access cards.
Subcontracting is among the most challenging parts of the U.S. government’s widespread outsourcing of war-related tasks. It works like this: A government agency — most likely the Defense Department, State Department, or U.S. Agency for International Development — will award work to a “prime” contractor. That prime contractor, usually a large American company like Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) or DynCorp International, will often subcontract some or even a majority of its work to other companies, including foreign-owned firms. Those subcontractors sometimes then turn around and subcontract part of the work, and so on.
“There are good reasons for using subcontractors,” said Christopher Shays, a former Republican lawmaker who is now co-chair of the congressionally created Commission on Wartime Contracting. “Business economists tell us that subcontracting can help businesses tap into specialized skills, configure their organization to meet changing needs, and adjust to shifts in demand.”
Subcontractors do everything from providing translators for American soldiers to trucking supplies into war zones, as well as building military bases and providing security. Without foreign subcontractors, U.S. troops could not operate halfway around the globe.
But in footing the bill for all this work by a network of companies, the U.S. government often doesn’t know who it is ultimately paying. And that can lead to fraud, shoddy work, or even taxpayer funds ending up in the hands of enemy fighters. Please read the entire article here
Al Jazeerah Central and South Asia Saturday August 28, 2010
Meanwhile on Saturday, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said its forces had mistakenly killed two private security contractors after one of its patrols came under fire from fighters in Wardak province, west of the capital, Kabul.
A car approached the patrol on a highway in the Maidan Shahr district of Wardak on Friday and men could be seen shooting out of the vehicle’s windows, Isaf said in a statement.
The patrol fired on the vehicle, killing two people inside later identified as private security contractors.
“It is believed that the private security contractors were returning fire against the same insurgents who had just previously attacked the coalition vehicle, and had increased their speed to break contact,” Isaf said.
Poor security is one of the main concerns for Afghans before parliamentary elections on September 18, a milestone after fraud-marred presidential polls last year and with Barack Obama, the US president, planning a strategy review in December Original here
Federal Judge Denies Defendants ArmorGroup’s and Wackenhut’s Motions to Dismiss False Claims Act Whistleblower Lawsuit Involving Fraudulent Practices at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 27/ — Judge James Cacheris of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has denied Defendants ArmorGroup North America (“AGNA”), ArmorGroup International, Wackenhut Services, Inc., and Cornelius Medley’s motions to dismiss whistleblower James Gordon’s lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act.
On September 9, 2009, Mr. Gordon, former Director of Operations of AGNA, filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under the False Claims Act in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, charging that ArmorGroup management retaliated against him for whistleblowing, internally and to the United States Department of State (“DoS”), about illegalities committed by ArmorGroup in the performance of AGNA’s contracts with the United States to provide security services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and at the U.S. Naval base in Bahrain.
The Complaint charges that during Mr. Gordon’s seven-month tenure as Director of Operations, he investigated, attempted to stop, and reported to DoS a myriad of serious violations committed by ArmorGroup, including:
- Severely understaffing the guard force necessary to protect the U.S. Embassy;
- Allowing AGNA managers and employees to frequent brothels notorious for housing trafficked women in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act;
- Endangering the safety of the guard force during transport to and from the Embassy by attempting to substitute company-owned subpar, refurbished vehicles from Iraq rather than purchasing armored escort vehicles as promised to DoS;
- Knowingly using funds to procure cheap counterfeit goods from a company in Lebanon owned by the wife of AGNA’s Logistics Manager; and
- Engaging in practices to maximize profit from the contract with reckless disregard for the safety and security of the guard force, the U.S. Embassy, and its personnel
In his Memorandum Opinion (August 27, 2010), Judge Cacheris noted that “Plaintiff alleges and Defendants offer no facts to dispute that Defendants … began to try to constructively discharge [Mr. Gordon] by ‘making [his] working conditions intolerable.'” Judge Cacheris further noted that “Plaintiff alleges, and Defendants have not offered any evidence refuting the fact, that [Defendant] Medley excluded Plaintiff from management meetings, shunned him, and relegated him to a position of persona non grata in the office” and that “Medley made clear to Plaintiff by his behavior, and to other staff members by his direct boasts, that his priority was to force Gordon to quit.” In denying Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Judge Cacheris concluded that “there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the continued nature and duration of the allegedly illegal acts Plaintiff was requested and required to participate in.” The parties will now proceed into the discovery phase of the litigation.
According to Debra S. Katz, counsel for Mr. Gordon, “this is an important victory for conscientious employees, like Mr. Gordon, who blow the whistle on fraudulent practices by defense contractors and wind up then paying the ultimate price. The court’s decision today makes clear that such employees can bring federal claims under the False Claims Act to obtain redress.”
Debra S. Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, along with Janet Goldstein and Robert Vogel at Vogel, Slade & Goldstein, LLP, represent James Gordon.
Judge Cacheris’ opinion is available at http://www.kmblegal.com/2010/08/27/court-denies-summary-judgment-in-false-claims-act-whistleblower-retaliation-suit-by-kmb-client-james-gordon-against-afghanistan-defense-contractor-armorgroup/.
The Obama administration signaled the end of an era this week as the last combat troops left Iraq, but insurgents apparently did not get the message. A wave of attacks targeting Iraqi security operations left at least 51 dead and dozens wounded on Wednesday, just one day after the White House continued to congratulate itself for reducing the US presence to 50,000 “noncombat” troops.
Last week’s initial announcement of the withdrawal lined up with President Obama’s August 31 deadline for ending the combat mission in Iraq, but military officials moved quickly to clarify that the war is not yet over before the insurgents could beat them to the point.
“I don’t think anybody declared the end of the war as far as I know,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said last week. “There’s still fighting ahead.”
Obama is expected to choose careful words next Tuesday when he addresses troops and the nation at Fort Bliss in Texas. The speech, followed by a prime-time Oval Office address, will take credit for shifting the US role in Iraq away from engaging in open combat and toward assisting Iraqi forces in reining in control of the country.
Iraqi security forces are obviously incapable of preventing attacks, with the most recent attacks killing dozens of cops and two Iraqi soldiers in cities across the country. So, who will be assisting them in fighting the terrorists?
The job has fallen on 50,000 remaining troops and the civilian State Department, flanked by 7,000 private military contractors, despite recent reports that contractors – some of them notoriously trigger-happy guns for hire – are chronically mismanaged and linked to $8.7 billion in reconstruction funding is currently unaccounted for.
“After September 1st, the United States will have a different mission, one of advising and assisting Iraqi security forces, joining the Iraqis in targeted counterterrorism operations and protecting U.S. troops and civilians who remain in Iraq,” White House Press Secretary Bill Burton told the press the day before the string of deadly attacks.
This mission involves facing terrorist attacks, roadside bombs and accompanying Iraqi troops on dangerous counterterrorism missions – essentially combat, but it’s just not classified as such, according to report in the Navy Times.
Afghan security forces have been deployed to quell rioting in the northwestern province of Badghis after a deadly gun battle between a local police recruit and his Spanish instructors.
The Spanish government has confirmed that two Spanish police officers and their Spanish interpreter were killed when a rogue police recruit opened fire on them at a provincial-reconstruction team (PRT) police training center in Badghis’s provincial capital of Qalay-e Naw.
Abdul Ghani Saberi, the deputy governor of Badghis Province, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that the rioting broke out after Spanish troops shot dead the Afghan trainee during the altercation.
Saberi said the police “usually train inside the Spanish PRT. One police driver, whose name was Ghullam Sakhi, carried a gun with him into the compound.” After arguing with Spanish troops who told him not to bring a gun inside the compound, “he started shooting at the Spanish soldiers — killing three of them.”
Saberi said provincial authorities think the recruit might have had ties with the Taliban and intentionally tried to carry a gun into the PRT compound to attack troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Saberi said the authorities suspect Taliban militants who are active in the area may have infiltrated the police force to carry out the initial attack.
“We think there was a plot behind this incident,” Saberi said. “We think the Taliban could be behind this because they are the enemies of the Afghan country and such plots are usually organized by the enemies of stability and peace in Afghanistan.”
Riot At Compound, Provincial Headquarters
RFE/RL’s correspondent in the area, Sharafuddin Stanakzai, reported that angry demonstrators tried to storm the PRT compound after the initial shooting incident.
He said that demonstrators on the scene said they broke through the compound’s outer perimeter and set fire to part of the base.
One witness told RFE/RL that Spanish troops fired on rioters who were storming the base, injuring several of them.
However, the Spanish government denied that demonstrators tried to storm the base. Spanish officials said the demonstrators wanted the body of the slain Afghan and that an Afghan judge was allowed to enter the PRT compound in order to authorize the handover of the remains.
There was no immediate confirmation by Afghan or NATO officials about witness claims that the PRT base was infiltrated or that there were more casualties there.
However, Saberi confirmed that hundreds of demonstrators later marched on the provincial government’s headquarters in Qalay-e Naw — smashing several windows of the building and forcing local authorities to call for the deployment of troops from the Afghan National Army and national police.
Abdullah Kheradmand Durani, head of the central government’s film department in Badghis Province, spoke to RFE/RL from outside the government building early in the afternoon on August 25 as the demonstrators surrounded it.
“People are gathered at the government building and I am standing among them. They have just arrived at the governor’s office. They’ve broken the windows,” Durani said.
“The governor is not inside. It looks now like the government is unable to control these people.”
However, Saberi later told RFE/RL that police and army troops were in control of the situation at the provincial administration building.
Recruits Turning On Teachers
The shooting incident that ignited the demonstrations is the latest in a series of attacks by Afghan police recruits. There have been several other recent deadly attacks by police recruits against their foreign trainers in Afghanistan.
Today’s violence has raised concerns about the possible infiltration of Afghan security forces by militants as the government in Kabul tries to bolster the size of its own security forces and phase out the use of private security contractors in the country.
NATO officials say Afghanistan will need to recruit 141,000 new soldiers and police officers in the next year to meet the security needs of the country and replace U.S. and NATO-led forces who plan to start leaving Afghanistan in mid 2011. Read the original story here
Government leaders are closely linked to ownership of some of the major Afghan-owned security companies, an investigation by The Killid Group has revealed.
President Hamed Karzai has openly accused the companies of thefts, murders, kidnappings and cooperating with the enemy.
The investigation indicates that over 5,000 armed men have been working with security groups belonging to the president’s family members or people close to him.
We also learned that some members of the Northern Alliance, who initially started security companies, have moved into the logistics business – they pay security companies smaller sums to guard their convoys. Interviews with senior officials of six of the biggest companies confirm that the companies belong to such power-brokers.
President Karzai’s statements, we discovered, have had an impact on them – creating a rift between the owners. Some have stepped back and seemingly will end their activities; others have scoffed at the president’s remarks and believe he will be unable to shut down the firms.
Companies connected to President Karzai’s family and close associates
ASIA SECURITY GROUP
This company has belonged to the president’s cousin, Hashmat Karzai, son of Khalil Khan Karzai. Both brothers – Hashmat and Hekmat – are close to President Karzai.
Asia Security Group (ASG), based in Sherpur, Kabul, operates with hundreds of guards, and sources in the security business say it has contracts to escort the coalition forces’ supply convoys to the south.
Now President Karzai has demanded that the security firms be shut down. Hashmat Karzai says that he is no longer the owner of ASG. He said it has been a while since he sold the company; when we asked why he sold ASG, he said he didn’t like it, so he sold it. However, the company’s permit in the records of AISA (the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency) is in the name of Hashmat Karzai, and security guards with ASG cap badges can be seen around his guesthouse in Kabul.
WATAN RISK MANAGEMENT
KANDAHAR SECURITY GROUP
The leading operations by private security companies in southern Afghanistan are undertaken by these two organisations. Many staff members confirmed off the record that the president’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, has a major role in both companies.
Watan Risk Management is part of Watan Group, owned by brothers Ahmad Rateb Popal and Ahmad Rashed Popal, who are distant relatives of the President . Kandahar Security Group has been operating under Ruhullah (who only uses one name), another distant relative.
As an operations commander for Watan Risk, Ruhullah said on August 9 that he welcomed the president’s decision on security companies and had resigned from his job there, but, during an interview that day with Killid, he confirmed he remained active in Kandahar Security Group.
Ruhullah has been a famous commander of security companies for seven years and ran an unregistered company called Amneyat Commando for four years. It used to operate on the Kandahar-Helmand highway and then merged with Watan Risk, which escorts NATO supply convoys from Maidan-e-Shahr to Kandahar and Helmand.
Watan Risk has been accused of paying tax to the Taliban and bribing them. Ruhullah denied co-operating with them, and told Killid that the Americans had conducted an inquiry into this. He said: “U.S. congressmen called Rashed Popal, Rateb Popal and I to Dubai where we had an eight-hour meeting. They had no evidence and just made claims. We showed them where we spent the 10 million dollars that was our income … we finally convinced them.”
Ruhullah said he had not watched the video uploaded on You Tube in which his armed men are torturing some unknown people and later beheading them. But he said: “Anyone who was slaughtered must have been those who slaughter our men. This was done by my guards. I was in Kabul … There are 200 staff on the highway and they see one of their comrades being killed – if a Taliban soldier falls into their hands, they do the same to him,” he said.
When asked how we can believe the men his guards beheaded were Taliban and not civilians, he replied: “Taliban and civilian cannot be distinguished in the video – it is not written on their face whether they’re Taliban or civilians. The people killed were those who tried to kill me, and … if the Taliban accuse me of killing 5000 of their men, I won’t deny their allegation.”
He denies partnering with Wali Karzai. He says: “I swear by God that Wali Karzai doesn’t even have one percent share in our company or any other company. This is all nonsense to say he is a shareholder.”
Ruhullah said 98 percent of the process for Kandahar’s official registration – the company employs 2,200 guards – had been completed. Now the permit only requires the President’s signature, but he is no longer sure whether the president will give his approval.
Companies with ties to senior Afghan officials
STRATEGIC SECURITY SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL
This company (SSSI) belongs to Haji Hassin, brother of Marshal Qasim Fahim, First Vice-President.
Ahmad Fawad, who holds the license for the company, confirmed that it was Haji Hassin’s business. Hassin was in London, he said this week, and he could not give an interview while Hassin was away. SSSI is registered at AISA as an English company.
NCL belongs to Hamed Wardak, the son of Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. Hamed is founder, chairman and CEO of NCL Holdings, which includes logistics and security operations. The permit for NCL has been issued to Najib Wardak, a former security commander in Baghlan province and a U.S. citizen.
Hamed Wardak is in the U.S. and has been vehemently criticizing President Karzai’s policies; he says he has started a party called Fidayane Sulh (which translates as Sacrificing for Peace). When we saw Najib Wardak, he said he had quit his job with NCL and had not even received his 10 percent share from the company.
Elite belongs to Sadeeq Mujadadi, son of Sebghatullah Mujadadi, head of the Meshrana Jirga or Senate, and briefly President in 1992. Mr. Mujadadi is currently in Turkey, but his partner in the company, Mawdood Popal, told Killid that he was considering stopping the operations of the company, due it having no contracts. He added that other sections of the company, such as logistics and construction, would continue operating. Mawdood disagreed with President Karzai’s statement that security companies do not provide security for Afghanistan. He said: “The security companies provide security for those who pay them; they provide security for the convoys in return for payment.”
RESERVE OPERATIONS UNIT
Matiullah Khan, a police officer who also runs a militia group, has more than 3,000 armed men operating in Uruzgan, where he is in charge of the Kandahar-Uruzgan highway. He lives in the family home of Jan Muhammad Khan, a former governor of Uruzgan, who boasts of being an advisor-minister to President Karzai. Matiullah Khan told Killid in an interview: “I have 648 men as part of the Ministry of Interior, but more than 3,000 men have picked up their weapons from their houses and are working with me. I get their salaries and other benefits from the foreigners’ convoys and each one of them is paid $240 per month.”
Shamshad belongs to Abdul Raof Zadran, son of Padsha Khan Zadran, the former governor of Paktia province and now a member of parliament. His brother, Abdul Wali Zadran, is district governor of Wazi Zadran district in Paktia province. Shamshad escorts the foreign convoys on the Khost-Gardez highway. Interviewed by Killid, Abdul Raof said he was considering increasing the number of guards and expanding the company. He says he has no connections with the Taliban nor any plans to deal with them. Shamshad has no official permit, but Zadran says he has received a temporary permit from Paktia province.
NORTHERN ALLIANCE LINKED COMPANIES
One owner of a security company is Jalaludin Rabbani, son of Burhanudin Rabbani, who was President from 1992 to 1996, and again briefly in 2001.
Nazir Shafaee, in charge of Burhanudin Rabbani’s office, told us that they were going to call the company Afghanistan Risk, but they couldn’t do so, for some unspecified reason. Jalaludin was in Canada, and at present we can provide no further details of the company.
Members of the Northern Alliance were the first to cooperate with the foreign forces. Now some have opened logistics companies – and make more money. Ruhullah, the director of Kandahar Security Group says: “Most security companies have contracts with the logistics companies and not with foreign forces. When these companies transport a vehicle for foreign forces, they charge them $4000 for each vehicle and then they sign a contract with us, but they pay us only $500 to $800 when we escort them.”
One security company, Afghanistan Navin, belongs to Lutfullah, a commander who fought with jehadi leader Abdulrab Rasul Sayaf.
Amanullah Guzar, one of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud’s commanders, has been reported as Lutfullah’s partner, though the latter denied. it
Navin has a big contract with Bagram military base, and his company regularly escorts foreign convoys from Shair Khan in Kunduz province to Bagram, and from there to Ghazni. Lutfullah said he has 500 guards.
Khurasan Security Company belongs to Wahidullah Frozi, the brother of Haji Khalil-Khalillulah Frozi-chief executive of Kabul Bank. The Panjshiri brothers’ company provides security for Kabul Bank.
The employees of the security companies are paid at least $200 and on average $400 per month, but those working on highways and in insecure areas make up to $800 per month. There is tough competition between the companies operating on highways – to the point that some company owners are convinced their convoys are attacked by competitors, not just by insurgents.
In June, a US Congessional investigation published the report “Warlord Inc”, probing the bribes paid to the Taliban to allow convoys through. But this is not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan – Ruhullkah described how, during the 1980s, Soviet supplies used to be transported by people who bribed the Mujahidin.
We asked Abdul Rahim Salarzoi, the owner of Salarzoi Company, who they pay on the Kabul-Kandahar highway. He said they pay only some individuals living in the area, to tell them whether or not the Taliban have set an ambush – and if so, where. He says most of the reports they get are accurate.
Will President Karzai shut down the security companies, employing as many as 50,000 guards, in four months, as he has said? With 90 percent of the companies providing services to foreign troops and institutions, how will the vacuum created by their closure be filled? Will it be acceptable to the foreign forces when Karzai says the guards working for these companies should be part of the Afghan National Army and National Police? Many running the firms are former army generals or police officers – who typically quit their jobs for better salaries in the private sector. Original Story here
by Government Exec Aug 15, 2010
Total Purchases: $162,566,075,478
|Rank||Parent Company||Total||Energy Department||NASA|
|1||Lockheed Martin Corp.||$8,860,841,808||$2,383,180,058||$3,586,946,390|
|3||Battelle Memorial Institute||3,866,200,065||3,751,810,093||3,470,244|
|4||Bechtel Group Inc.||3,793,725,369||3,794,923,010||0|
|5||CH2M Hill Companies Ltd.||3,617,203,044||3,328,937,611||6,049,870|
|8||Northrop Grumman Corp.||2,725,939,891||997,824,411||398,050,373|
|11||California Institute of Technology||1,749,387,653||239,969||1,748,922,856|
|15||Merck & Co. Inc.||1,351,332,985||0||0|
|17||Computer Sciences Corp.||1,315,727,178||47,866,991||250,628,596|
|19||Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.||1,183,471,397||286,759,907||693,822,399|
|20||Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.||1,156,614,879||10,097,086||14,770,594|
|21||Dyncorp International LLC||1,145,233,411||0||0|
|22||University of California System||1,104,683,080||936,151,967||85,754,300|
|26||A-Mark Financial Corp.||930,801,422||0||0|
|28||University of Tennessee System||843,310,523||836,520,497||2,271,841|
|29||L-3 Communications Holdings||837,180,794||31,200||45,542,136|
|30||Dell Computer Corp.||776,528,249||2,368,540||57,435,575|
|31||General Dynamics Corp.||762,223,278||410,515||59,281,599|
|32||Alliant Techsystems Inc.||741,391,946||17,285||710,967,241|
|34||Corrections Corp. of America||731,468,602||0||0|
|35||General Motors Corp.||702,736,996||0||100,000|
|39||SRA International Inc.||640,852,553||0||169,755|
|43||United Technologies Corp.||511,878,962||7,139,528||448,196,097|
|44||Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.||509,512,068||498,020,034||0|
|45||Chemonics International Inc.||488,747,893||0||0|
|46||Ford Motor Co.||483,867,943||196,081||15,000|
|47||University of Chicago||475,416,341||469,678,709||3,164,862|
|Rank||Parent Company||Total||Energy Department||NASA|
|51||State University of New York||$432,114,556||$419,823,002||$4,301,573|
|52||Triple Canopy Inc.||430,963,910||0||0|
|54||Washington Gas Light Co.||396,374,611||0||1,837,358|
|55||Government of Russia||387,755,299||0||387,656,298|
|56||Washington Group International||386,209,862||386,209,862||0|
|57||Research Triangle Institute||385,825,937||0||1,032,001|
|59||Arctic Slope Regional Corp.||376,055,505||33,419,019||192,122,486|
|60||Energy Solutions Inc.||369,871,444||369,617,163||0|
|61||Coffey International Ltd.||367,880,412||0||11,304|
|62||General Electric Co.||361,675,930||4,414,170||3,144,963|
|65||Sunshine Minting Inc.||348,010,490||0||0|
|67||John Snow Inc.||345,620,398||0||0|
|68||AKAL Security Inc.||338,885,466||0||12,619,555|
|70||Management & Training Corp.||327,770,668||0||0|
|71||Louis Berger Group Inc.||326,826,416||0||0|
|72||Johns Hopkins University||317,774,015||0||235,365,467|
|73||Health Net Inc.||317,284,429||0||0|
|76||CACI International Inc.||290,390,190||15,032||8,235|
|78||Universities Research Association||277,680,689||277,649,137||31,552|
|79||Tetra Tech Inc.||274,005,446||3,980,946||5,710,117|
|80||Bill Harbert International||272,782,721||0||0|
|81||Shaw Group Inc.||269,681,458||239,192,729||0|
|83||True North Communications Inc.||264,534,353||0||0|
|85||Development Alternatives Inc.||258,943,753||0||0|
|86||Duke Energy Corp.||254,683,155||239,128,692||125,200|
|87||BWX Technologies Inc.||254,683,141||254,688,407||0|
|88||Grunley Construction Co.||252,628,413||0||0|
|89||Turner Construction Co.||250,833,934||0||0|
|90||Mitsui and Co. Precious Metals||249,952,875||0||0|
|91||Oak Ridge Associated Universities Inc.||248,491,745||190,522,711||18,121,224|
|94||Cardinal Health Inc.||235,045,826||0||18,220|
|95||Serco Group PLC||234,446,284||1,774,810||0|
|96||Hensel Phelps Construction Co.||227,920,049||0||37,002,412|
|97||Cauldwell Wingate Co. LLC||226,877,598||0||0|
|98||NANA Regional Corp. Inc.||226,570,372||4,385,205||282,823|
|99||Jefferson Science Associates LLC||225,097,210||225,097,209||0|
“HIT SQUADS” MEANT TO “LIQUIDATE” TALIBAN LEADERS KILLING EVERYONE BUT…
Months ago, JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) began to roll out their strategy for Afghanistan. After the total failure of the Marjeh operations, it was decided that US Army Special Forces would organize a program to decapitate the Taliban, removing its infrastructure and crippling its operations.
Special Forces had done the same thing twice before, once in Vietnam under Operation Phoenix, killing tens of thousands of Vietnamese civilians suspected of opposing the extremely unpopular US backed government. The same program was rolled out again in Central America, with both American personnel and mercenaries again being tasked with eliminating “enemy infrastructure.” This time, the lists began with teachers, nurses and minor public officials in Nicaragua.
We know how Vietnam worked out. Even more embarrassing, the “communist dictatorship” in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, targeted for “depersonalization,” lost power in an honest election. American ”friends” don’t usually do very well in honest elections as we have seen so often, particularly in Afghanistan.
America’s weakness is its addiction to what the British used to call “the wizard war.” “Special Ops” or “Black Ops” seem heroic, dramatic and always seem to be approved. With the bulk of America’s military budget earmarked for the Air Force, inventing new ways to compete with rival military organizations within the Department of Defense has become a game. When dozens of innocent villagers are obliterated by a “video game” stateside warrior with a joystick and “kill” button 7000 miles away or the 500th “wrong house” in a row is stormed in the middle of the night, it is time to find a less brutal ways for military politics to be played out.
Peddling “irregular warfare” baloney to the Pentagon Princes is easy. Nobody in the Pentagon either fights wars or even lives in the “real world.” All that is needed is a bit of skewed intelligence and a fast talking “used car salesman” to sell the lie. The Pentagon has hundreds of such people, maybe thousands, all mouth, all ambition and all “career.”
America has an extensive history of failures around the world. The new answer is “special operations.” The idea is always the same, make friends with locals using “American charm” and they, being the dull witted “wogs” they are, will start filling the coffers with high quality intelligence that will allow death squads to root out extremists, terrorists and what is now called “the shadow government” of Afghanistan.
As has always been the case, everywhere America has ever operated, hubris comes into play. It is no secret that moving up the ladder in the Pentagon, especially during the Bush/Cheney years was a task best performed by the spineless and mediocre. Now America is fighting its most complex conflict ever in Afghanistan, in a society whose tribal and political structure, whose interrelationships, grudges, private agendas and history a deluded few pretend to understand but none have a real grasp of.
For years, tribal leaders have assigned minor players the task of “drinking tea” with the Americans. The picture is always the same, some poor local sitting across from a Marine with 80 pounds of gear, 300 dollar boots and a 200 dollar flashlight or with a Special Forces “old timer,” someone who watched Lawrence of Arabia one too many times.
(Source: The Miami Herald)MIAMI _ The U.S. State Department on Monday said it “expects” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is visiting Havana, to urge Cuba to free a U.S. government contractor jailed for the past nine months.
But a senior Obama administration official said that Richardson, who won the release of three Cuban political prisoners in 1996, “is not carrying a message from the administration.”
A statement by Richardson’s office said he would be in Havana from Sunday to Friday “as part of a mission to strengthen potential trade and cultural partnerships between New Mexico and Cuba.”
“During the visit, Gov. Richardson will help market New Mexico commodities and follow up on inroads made on potential trade partnerships during a visit to Cuba last year,” it added.
Richardson, who has met with Fidel Castro, has at times acted as an unofficial middleman between U.S. democratic administrations and hostile foreign governments. He also has won the release of U.S. citizens held in Iraq, Sudan and North Korea.
A State Department spokesman said department officials met with the governor last week and briefed him on the case of Alan P. Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor jailed in Cuba since Dec. 3.
“As we and others have done, we expect Gov. Richardson to urge the Cuban government to immediately release Mr. Gross,” said Charles Luoma-Overstreet, spokesman for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The senior Obama administration official e-mailed El Nuevo Herald a statement that was similar, but denied that Richardson is acting as a messenger for the administration.
“As we and others have done, we expect Governor Richardson to urge the Cuban government to immediately release Mr. Gross. He is not carrying a message from the administration,” the official wrote.
Several Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have repeatedly requested that Cuba free Gross, 60, of Potomac, Md.
He was arrested after delivering satellite communications equipment to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community. He has not been officially charged, but Havana officials have alleged that he’s linked to U.S. intelligence activities.
Richardson, who was raised in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish, has long advocated easing U.S. sanctions on Cuba and last visited Havana in August 2009 on another trade mission.
During that visit, he did not meet with Fidel Castro or his brother and successor, Raul Castro. He met instead with Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s parliament and an expert on Cuba-U.S. relations, as well as officials of the foreign and tourism ministries. Read the entire story here