Oh Canada!

Coming clean about the Canadian connection to the Kabul Airport heroin scandal.

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Abdul Jabar Sabet, Afghan Attorney General - and resident of Montreal, Canada.
It’s been a terrific experience launching SkyReporter.com. To all who’ve been following our daily film reports from Afghanistan over the past four weeks, thanks so much for surfing by. I hope you’ll tag us as one of your favourites, because there’s a lot more to come.

There’ll be film reports and blogs about Afghanistan, and stories and short films on other subjects, too. Soon, SkyReporter.com will host work by other journalists and filmmakers, and your own submissions will be welcome. You might want to send a text message, or a short film. Stay with us – and start crafting those small screen epics.

Meantime, let me fill you in on an ongoing tale about Afghanistan. I chose this series of stories for SkyReporter’s launch because I’ve been covering the Afghan wars for quite a while, and because I feel so much of what’s really going on in Southwest Asia receives far too little attention in the West – amazing, given our outrage after 9/11.

The Afghan people have been thirsting for peace for nearly 30 years. A coup in April, 1978 by Afghan Communists ignited the cycle of violence. Yet three decades later, the bloodshed, torment and official deception continues. Our own governments, the foreign actors on the Afghan stage, continue to pose and posture, talking a good line on peace, while pursuing their own selfish interests, always at the expense of the Afghan people.

The scandal of heroin trafficking at Kabul Airport is a perfect example. As I’ve pieced the story together, it’s been remarkable how obstacle after obstacle looms on the horizon. Mysteriously, most of these investigative roadblocks aren’t thrown up by the drug gangs, but by the authorities. Not just by shadowy figures at the top of Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government, but by American and British officials, too.

And, most annoying of all for this reporter, by the government of Canada, too.

The Afghan people place such great faith in a nation like Canada. Most Afghans I know greatly appreciate the Canadian Forces’ contribution to keeping the Taliban and al Qaeda at bay. But why are Canada’s diplomats and politicians so reluctant to step up and do their part? Canadian soldiers risk their lives every day in and around Kandahar province.

Why do Canadian officials find it so hard to address the crisis of heroin currently flooding through Kabul Airport, just minutes from Canada’s embassy in the Afghan capital? After all, drug profits help finance the Taliban’s efforts to kill or capture Canadian troops.

We know why American officials won’t talk about it. As skyreporter.com revealed in the story “The American Connection”, it was U.S. Justice Department advisors who helped promote Abdul Jabar Sabet to the office of Afghan Attorney General – a quid pro quo for Sabet giving the Guantanamo Bay detention centre the Afghan government’s seal of approval.

Sabet’s the man who triggered the airport policing scandal by suspending and threatening to arrest General Aminullah Amerkhel. He’s the former drug-busting airport police chief, declared innocent of any wrongdoing both by his colleagues and respected figures like Senate Speaker Mojadidi.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs department tells skyreporter.com that their “Embassy representatives did not have a role in the appointment of Abdul Jabar Sabet.” The spokesman curtly adds: “We have no further comment.”

Strange, considering that Mr. Sabet is a resident of Longeuil, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal. Where his wife and five children live presently, while Sabet holds high office in Kabul, kept company by long-time companion Fakria Siddiqqi, who sources indicate has also spent time in Montreal in Sabet’s company.

Skyreporter.com’s enquiries to Canada’s Immigration authorities have been rebuffed. They deny knowledge of anyone by Sabet’s name. Perhaps that’s no accident, because Abdul Jabar Sabet has a long and storied past. A longtime aide to one of America’s most-wanted terrorists, warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Sabet once worked in the U.S. for the Voice of America. Until, that is, the Americans invited him to leave. He went back to Hekmatyar’s employ, then, following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in 1996, he fled to Pakistan.

That’s where Mr. Sabet’s Canadian connection begins. Which we’ll examine in greater detail in my next report here on skyreporter - with the help of the office of Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and his fellow Conservative Party member, and my own MP, Lee Richardson.

Meantime, please take a look back at previous film reports on the heroin scandal, and our other stories on skyreporter.com.

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