Disgraced Attorney General Ducks Criminal Probe

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Mysterious links: Sabet’s U.S. connections keep him one step ahead of Afghan law

In a display of breathtaking hypocrisy, U.S. officials in Kabul are enabling the regime’s disgraced former Attorney General – fired in July after accusations of gross abuse of office – to avoid a formal criminal investigation. Washington insists, meantime, that the Karzai government cleanse itself of corruption.

Sources in the Afghan capital, as well as Washington D.C. and New York, confirm that Abdul Jabar Sabet continues to be sponsored and protected by Bush administration appointees in the U.S. Department of Justice.

In mid-November, the officials provided Sabet with private American military contractors to spirit him through Kabul Airport and onto a plane to Dubai - defying an Afghan government order that Sabet not be allowed to leave the country.

Facing possible arrest, Sabet was escorted by his armed protection team to the airport’s VIP waiting room at 4 a.m. and kept from prying eyes. Later in the morning, the Americans accompanied their charge to his seat aboard the regularly scheduled Safi Air flight to the Gulf Emirate.

Once in Dubai, Sabet connected to a flight to New York, where he met with senior U.S. government officials, including Zalmay Khalilzad, the Bush administration's ambassador to the U.N. In Washington, Sabet stayed at the Afghan Embassy, the guest of Ambassador Said Jawad. Sabet has since returned to Dubai.

All of this was paid for by American taxpayers, despite an “investigation into criminal activities” launched by Afghanistan’s new Attorney General, who asked the Interior Ministry, in writing, to prevent Sabet from leaving Afghanistan until the probe is complete (see the full translation of Attorney General Ishaq Alako’s order at the end of this article).

Abdul Jabar Sabet has been publicly accused of accepting bribes from known drug traffickers, and of conducting vendettas against dozens of prosecutors and other officials working in Afghanistan’s struggling justice system. (Please see “Fugitive Former Lawman To Face Bitter Music,” Oct. 23, 2008, on page 2 of Recent Stories.)

During his two-year tenure as Attorney General, Sabet amassed a file of failed investigations, and sent not one significant anti-corruption case to trial.

At a news conference shortly after he was fired by President Karzai, Sabet told journalists that he had compiled “many secrets,” and that if threatened with investigation, “I’ll reveal them all.”

He then disappeared for some weeks, during which time a curious cell phone video emerged featuring the former top lawman performing at a party. The video was telecast nationally, and Afghans were treated to the spectacle of their former Attorney General, apparently intoxicated, dancing wildly around the room – “a drunken whirling dervish,” in the words of one broadcaster.

The spectacle was all the more remarkable in view of Sabet's "booze-busting" police raids on foreign-owned restaurants in Kabul, during which the Attorney General posed as the personification of sobriety.

His dance video wasn’t Sabet’s first bout with the media.

In 2007, he launched a crackdown on the Afghanistan’s vibrant young news industry, publicly threatening journalists from Tolo TV, who had broadcast a story featuring one of his bizarre political statements.

Sabet’s threat, recorded and telecast at the time: “Drop the report from the next news service, otherwise I will put you in jail.” He then sent 100 policemen to raid the station. Several journalists were rifle-butted, kicked or punched. (Please see “Karzai Heavies Vs. Free Media,” June 12, 2007, on page 21 in Recent Stories.)

In the autumn of 2006, Sabet triggered one of the capital’s most notorious heroin trafficking scandals by removing the respected police general, Aminullah Amerkhel, from his post at Kabul Airport. (Please see our “Afghan Heroin” series in Recent Stories, including “The American Connection,” June 21, 2007, on page 19 of Recent Stories.)

A number of American and British journalists confirm that officials from their respective embassies tried to persuade them of Amerkhel’s guilt in order to rebuff their queries about Sabet's misconduct. This, despite evidence to the contrary, specifically:

- Sabet failed to file charges against Amerkhel.

- British authorities took no action against Amerkhel during his self-imposed three-month exile to London.

- Amerkhel’s record was officially declared clear on his return to Kabul in April, 2007. All accusations against him have been deemed groundless.

Skyreporter has learned that senior United Nations and European Union figures in Kabul have asked President Karzai and his current Attorney General why the investigation into Sabet’s activities has been stalled.

The explanation: that Sabet has been placed beyond the reach of the Afghan authorities by the regime’s most powerful foreign patron, the United States government.

“It’s astonishing,” one member of Kabul’s diplomatic community tells Skyreporter. “Certainly Mr. Sabet wants to avoid tough questions, but it’s pretty clear that his mentors are nervous, too.

“It makes you wonder what they’re hiding.”

A fair comment, considering the contents of the order for the investigation. Dated Sept. 23, 2008, it states:

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Attorney General’s Office, Department of Crimes and Investigation, Administrative Section

- Confidential -

Honorable Minister of Interior:

There are some complaints of the people, and information we have received, which are accusations of illegal activities against Abdul Jabar Sabet, the former attorney general. This requires investigation of Sabet. In order to complete the investigation and find the truth of these accusations in the time allotted, his presence is a must. In order not to block the investigation of criminal activities the mentioned person should not be allowed to leave Afghanistan. Also we add please find him and bring Honorable Sabet to this office. Therefore you have been informed in order to execute the mentioned order. Please give the orders to the officials related to this.


Alako, Attorney General

At the bottom of the copy in Skyreporter’s possession, a handwritten note reads:

"Office of the Interior Minister. Do as the letter says as soon as possible and send Abdul Jabar Sabet to the Attorney General." The notation is signed and dated seven days after Alako’s letter.

Today, three months later, Sabet’s whereabouts and plans are matters of conjecture. He has insisted that he'll be a candidate in next year's presidential elections, a claim that would seem to support one Afghan ambassador's assessment of Sabet's mental state: "The man is unstable."

The New York Times reports that the fugitive former lawman is “living in Canada.” Sabet gained residency in Montreal after entering the country in suspicious circumstances in the late 1990’s.

However at least one senior Canadian government official casts doubt on that claim and confirms, for the first time, that Sabet is “not a Canadian citizen” and “would require a visa” to re-enter the country.

Considering Sabet’s record - and the mounting sacrifice of Canadian Forces members, and their families, in the battle for Afghanistan – it is highly unlikely that Kabul’s shamed legal Rasputin would ever be welcomed back to Canada.

Which begs the question: why is he still getting the red carpet treatment in the United States of America?

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