What a Shocker! Once Praised Government Officials and Cronies in Afghanistan Turned Out to Be Money Sponges

How weapons shipments to Afghanistan turned into luxury U.S. real estate

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Yahoo News has a great story this morning about how Daoud Wardak, originally from Afghanistan, owns a $5.2 million Miami condo and has now bought a $20.9 million mansion in Beverly Hills. The story called Wardak a “semi-mysterious businessman.”

Mysterious indeed as there’s little that’s publicly available about Wardak or how he might have become so wealthy. Born in 1977, he is the managing director of a Miami-based shell company called AD Capital Group that was incorporated four years ago and is currently inactive. The company’s registered office is Wardak’s condo, so the commute must have been a snap.

Wardak’s brother is Hamed Wardak, “a Georgetown University grad and onetime valedictorian.” The story says he runs a Virginia-based military transportation company, NCL Holdings, which had roughly $360 million in U.S. government contracts “for protecting American supply routes in Afghanistan.”

It’s surely a coincidence that the Wardak boys are, as Yahoo reported, sons of former Afghan minister of defense and one-time presidential candidate Abdul Rahim Wardak, a close U.S. ally in Afghanistan.

Hamad also has ties to Miami, and according to this site resides in a $30 million home on Star Island. I can’t be sure who owns the estate because its legal owner is a shell firm but the site says Hamad’s previous residence was in McLean, Virginia, where NCL Holdings was based, so it looks like he’s holed up there.

According to his LinkedIn, in 2004 — the year his father became defense minister — Hamad became Director for International Operations with Technologists, Inc., a U.S. contractor “that became active in Afghanistan under Hamed’s leadership, and brought in $44 million “in design-build contracts” from USAID and the Pentagon. NCL was founded the following year.

Hamad was also a founder of the Campaign for a US-Afghanistan Partnership (CUSAP), “a nonprofit organization of American and Afghan citizens, guided by a vision for achieving sustainable security and prosperity in Afghanistan.” According to a 2009 story in The Nation, CUSAP was run by Patton Boggs, “Washington’s most monied lobbying firm…on Wardak’s behalf to act as the ‘face’ of a campaign for increased US engagement in Afghanistan”

That the war in Afghanistan was a disaster for the country but a goldmine for well-connected U.S. citizens and locals is no surprise. The same occurred in Iraq and other historic beneficiaries of U.S. “exceptionalism” and “nation-building.”

It’s also no surprise that shady local elites were previously promoted in the U.S. as well-intentioned modernizers, fighting the good fight in conjunction with the ever benevolent Pentagon. Exhibit A here is former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was praised for years before belatedly being exposed as a pathological crook.

There’s also the case of Ashraf Ghani, the final president before the Taliban seized power, who reportedly fled Kabul in August “with four cars and a helicopter full of cash.” He had previously been lauded as a pro-Western reformer for all the usual reasons. He was once a professor at Johns Hopkins University, worked with the World Bank, was finance minister under Karzai, served on the UN’s Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor and, in the ultimate seal of approval, once gave a TED talk.

A 2016 story in the New Yorker described him as:

A visionary technocrat who thinks twenty years ahead, with a deep understanding of what has destroyed his country and what might yet save it. “He’s incorruptible,” the senior official said. “He wants to transform the country. And he can do it. But it seems as if everything is arrayed against him.” Ghani is the kind of reformer that the American government desperately needed as a partner during the erratic later years of Karzai’s rule.

In regards to General Abdul Rahim Wardak, the former defense minister and father of the two wealthy lads in Miami, a 2009 Los Angeles Times story, about an address he gave in Washington at the Obama administration-friendly Center for a New American Security, referred to him as “widely respected in Western military circles.” In his speech he said any U.S. pullback would “be falling into the trap the enemy has laid, helping them to achieve their evil objectives.” Of course, a pullback would also have cut the flow of money into his defense budget, from where it was dispersed to parts unknown, but easy to guess at.

Fair Use.

In October of 2013, when he registered as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election, the Wall Street Journal opened a story about him by calling him “a leading mujahedeen commander in the 1980s war against the Soviets” who “attended the U.S. Army staff college at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Another sign of his apparent virtue was that he “includes personal letters from former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon among his campaign materials.”

Other examples can be found on the former defense minister’s Wikipedia page, though it appears it may be autobiographical. On February 28, 2011, he “was interviewed by Charlie Rose from 1 to 2 p.m. on a plethora of subjects regarding present and future problems affecting Afghanistan and gave clear and concise answers to all questions,” it says. “A highly informative interview, which all the world, especially America should see.”

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Politically eclectic DC-based investigative journalist and CEO, Chief Sleaze Purveyor (CSP) and Creator of WashingtonBabylon.com.