General Aminullah Amerkhel, whose suspension as chief of police at Kabul Airport led to a reported surge of heroin smuggling, has returned to Afghanistan from exile in London to face down his now-discredited accuser, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet.
Prior to leaving London for Kabul Tuesday, Amerkhel thanked skyreporter.com for detailing his plight in our series of film reports, AFGHAN HEROIN, which can be viewed in previous file pages to the left of this screen.
“Thank you, from me and my family,” Amerkhel said by telephone. “You are the number one reason I’m able to go back home.”
Amerkhel’s return, however, is first and foremost a victory for Senate Speaker Sibgatullah Mojadidi, who in a series of meetings with Hamid Karzai has pressed the President to restrain his reckless, hot-headed Attorney General. Transcripts of skyreporter’s stories about Sabet’s bizarre crusade against Amerkhel were discussed at several of these meetings.
Over a six month period, Attorney General Sabet has failed to produce detailed charges in the case. Both Interpol and British police shunned his attempts to have Amerkhel arrested in London. This, even though Sabet is allegedly in the pay of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency (see ON HER MAJESTY’S SERVICE, April 24).
The British are thought to have tired of Attorney General Sabet’s controversies – not least his order, last week, for a jackboot-style police raid on the country’s most popular independent source of news, Tolo TV.
But unquestionably, Sabet’s downward spiral began with the unexplained and arbitrary removal of one of the country’s most effective drug-busting policemen. Amerkhel’s senior colleagues have said - on the record and on camera – that the general is a sound, experienced officer. Only out of respect for Afghanistan’s constitution, they explained, have they been forced to acquiesce to the Attorney General’s actions.
Now, that same constitution is coming back to haunt Sabet. Like the arrests and beatings at Tolo TV last week, Sabet’s campaign against Amerkhel appears to be legally groundless. Worse, according to senior lawmen and legislators, the suspension was followed by a resumption of heroin trafficking.
Subsequent to Sabet’s suspension of Amerkhel - and despite the Attorney General’s reported limited means - he began developing an expensive residential lot overlooking one of Kabul’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. Sources have told skyreporter that Sabet also increased his staff. His circle of personal confederates has grown, too, though not entirely on the government payroll.
As for Amerkhel’s future, parliamentary sources indicate that a number of the general’s fellow police officials intend to clear his name - and put him back to work against the country’s drug gangs. Sabet, meantime, has taken news of Amerkhel’s return angrily, and has planted at least one story with a pro-regime news outlet claiming that there are still charges to be answered.
For now, though, Amerkhel is enjoying a reunion with his wife and six children. It’s a far different fate than the one Sabet had planned for him last autumn. Arrest proceedings were underway, meaning that the general would have been jailed alongside many criminals he had helped convict.
Fearing for his life, Amerkhel fled to London, using an entry visa from an earlier visit to Britain sponsored by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s transport minister. On that occasion, the general had consulted with Britain’s head of aviation security and other top civil servants, passing on his knowledge and advice.
Now, a valued and trusted lawman is back on the ground in Afghanistan. How his case proceeds will say much about the Karzai administration’s struggle to regain some measure of credibility.
Abdul Jabar Sabet is still in his office - the office where seven reporters found themselves one night last week, arrested without warrants and beaten, some severely.
Keep an eye on skyreporter.com It's office cleaning season in Kabul.