officials suspect that at least some of these security companies — many of which have ties to top Afghan officials — are using American money to bribe the Taliban. The officials suspect that the security companies may also engage in fake fighting to increase the sense of risk on the roads, and that they may sometimes stage attacks against competitors.
The suspicions raise fundamental questions about the conduct of operations here, since the convoys, and the supplies they deliver, are the lifeblood of the war effort.
“We’re funding both sides of the war,” a NATO official in Kabul said. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was incomplete, said he believed millions of dollars were making their way to the Taliban. ..
…Records show there are 52 government-registered security companies, with 24,000 gunmen, most of them Afghans. But many, if not most, of the security companies are not registered at all, do not advertise themselves and do not necessarily restrain their gunmen with training or rules of engagement. Some appear to be little more than gangs with guns…
….Many of the gunmen are escorting convoys carrying supplies to American and NATO bases, under a $2.2 billion American contract called Host Nation Trucking. American officials award contracts to Afghan and American trucking companies to transport food and other supplies to their bases around the country. They leave it to the trucking companies to protect themselves.
As a result, the trucking companies typically hire one of the security companies that have sprung up to capture the extraordinarily lucrative market in escorting convoys. The security companies typically charge $800 to $2,500 per truck to escort a convoy on a long stretch of highway. The convoys often contain hundreds of trucks each.
In addition, many of the security companies also have contracts to guard American military bases.
The money is so good, in fact, that the families of some of Afghanistan’s most powerful people, many of them government officials, have set up their own security companies to get in on the action.
In addition to Watan Risk Management, there is NCL Holdings, founded by Hamid Wardak, the son of Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister. Elite Security Services, another NATO convoy escort service, is owned by Siddiq Mujadeddi, the son of Sibghatullah Mujadeddi, the speaker of the Afghan Senate, officials said. Asia Security Group, another private security company, was, at least until recently, controlled by Hashmat Karzai, a cousin of the president. .."
2010-06-07 16:16:02 UTC