Ahmed Wali Karzai: Hamid Karzai's half-brother and principal power broker in southern Afghanistan

Although he was dogged by allegations of corruption, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of Afghanistan's president, Hamid, and head of the Kandahar Provincial Council, was the undisputed power broker in the southern region, the homeland of the Taliban and the focus of recent US-led campaigns to turn the tide against the insurgents. Karzai was shot dead by his long-time friend and head of security, Mohammed Sadar, who was himself killed by security forces.

The murder was the latest and most high-profile in a series of assassinations of politicians and security commanders. The president, who has lost a key political fixer, repeatedly defended him, denouncing accusations that his brother was involved in criminal activities in the restive south.

Born in the village of Karz, Kandahar Province, in 1961, Ahmed Wali Karzai had six brothers, including his half-brother Hamid, and a sister. His father was a senior leader of the Popalzai tribe and a politician who was killed in exile by the Taliban in 1999. In his teens, Karzai was forced to leave his homeland due the Soviet invasion and the ensuing occupation and civil war. He fled to Pakistan and then to Chicago, where he worked in the family-owned Afghan restaurant.

Karzai returned to Afghanistan following the removal of the Taliban government after the Nato-led invasion of 2001. While his brother consolidated power in Kabul, Ahmed, an elder of the Popalzai Pashtun tribe, Afghanistan's main ethnic group, became a major player in the family's heartland of Kandahar; he was elected to the Provincial Council in 2005 and later served as its chairman. He became arguably the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan, an enforcer for his brother. Coalition generals came to see Karzai as the "go-to" man in the region; his influence belied his modest official title.

Critics claimed that Karzai was tainted by the brutality and corruption that helped drive ordinary Afghans into the arms of insurgents. He was at the centre of a number of controversies. In 2009, the New York Times reported that he had been on the CIA payroll for nine years, operating a paramilitary force to conduct raids on the Taliban, as well as giving information about insurgents. There were repeated calls for his removal from Kandahar, while one US ambassador called for him to be given an ambassadorial post overseas, but this was rejected.

The brothers always vehemently denied all allegations. Karzai said, "I don't know anyone under the name of the CIA. I have never received any money from any organisation. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan." However, his close association with a heroin kingpin, Haji Azizullah (in whose house he lived rent-free from 2001) was never properly explained.

But even his enemies admitted that he had a talent for bringing different tribes together and solving disputes; he brought a degree of ruthless control to a violent area through his unrivalled network of tribal and family connections and the fortune he was rumoured to have amassed and used adroitly for political ends. Effectively the governor of Kandahar province, Karzai exerted considerable influence on neighbouring provinces.

Analysts believe that the articulate and charming Ahmed all but won two presidential elections for his brother through his patronage and security networks, and ensured continued, if not always enthusiastic, support for his rule. He was later accused of orchestrating voter fraud in the August 2009 elections. Karzai had been the target of a number of assassination attempts, the most recent a rocket and machine-gun attack in May 2009 as his convoy was travelling towards Kabul. A year earlier, he was chairing a meeting in a government building when a bomb-filled fuel tanker exploded close by, killing six and wounding 40. The Taliban were blamed.

By 2010, attempts to freeze Karzai out appeared to have ground to a halt. In October 2009, US Senator John Kerry said, "I have requested from our intelligence sources and law enforcement folks the smoking gun, the evidence... and nobody has [produced it]." In March 2010, a senior US military official declared that Karzai could be targeted for killing or capture if it were proven that he provided arms or assistance to insurgent groups. By this July that evidence was still not forthcoming and Karzai remained a key player in the complicated power politics of Afghanistan. Short-term, there is almost certain to be in-fighting among rivals for his crown; longer-term, the political structure of the south is likely to be irrevocably changed.

Martin Childs

Ahmed Wali Karzai, politician: born Karz, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan 1961; married (two sons, three daughters); died Kandahar 12 July 2011.

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape