Drugs and Weapons transported by Afghan Air Force
Investigation launched into claims Afghan Air Force used military aircraft to transport drugs and illegal weapons
PUBLISHED: 23:57, 8 March 2012 I UPDATED: 10:37, 9 March 2012
U.S. officials are investigating claims that the Afghan Air Force has been using aircraft to transport drugs and illegal weapons.
Coming after the death on Tuesday of six soldiers in the deadliest attack on British troops in six years, the probe underlined military concerns over the deteriorating situation on the ground in Afghanistan.
Fears are growing that the looming departure of British and American troops in 2014 will leave the country in chaos.
Now these new corruption allegations are likely to raise further doubts over the ability of Afghan forces to secure the country before foreign combat troops depart.
The accusations of illegal drug and gun running come from ‘credible’ officials serving with the Afghan Air Force, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the allegations.
‘At this point allegations are being examined,’ said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, spokesman for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, which is setting up and financing Afghan security forces, including the Air Force.
‘The authorities are trying to determine whether the allegations warrant a full investigation,’ he added.
U.S. investigators are also looking into whether the smuggling is connected to an April incident in which an AAF colonel killed eight American Air Force officers at Kabul Airport.
An official report about the deaths quoted American officials as saying that the killer was likely involved in moving illegal cargo. Most of the victims had reportedly been taking part in an inquiry into the misuse of AAF aircraft.
The accusations have raised fears that Afghanistan could be left in chaos when Britain removes its troops in 2014
An Afghan defence ministry official would not comment on the issue. But he did say that Afghanistan had come under pressure from the West to remove a senior AAF official over corruption allegations. ‘They could not provide credible evidence,’ he added.
AAF Commander Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak insisted yesterday that the drug-running allegations were ‘baseless and they must be proven.’
Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium and the drug trade is often blamed by Western officials for hindering economic development.