Taliban Denies Mahmood Karzai Travel out of Afghanistan

Taliban Denies Mahmood Karzai Travel out of Afghanistan

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Local Afghan media reported earlier today that Mahmood Karzai, also spelled Mahmud Karzai, brother of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was arrested at Kabul International Airport after trying to depart for the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai.

The initial reporting was denied by Taliban deputy spokesperson who told press that Karzai was not arrested, but was restricted from leaving Afghanistan due to “ legal problems”. Sources familiar with the Karzai family told press that he had been arrested, and they still have not heard from him for the past three hours.

Mahmood Karzai is the elder brother of the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai and he is also the brother of Ahmed Wali Karzai, a politician in Afghanistan who served as Chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council and was killed by his bodyguard in Afghanistan.

After the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021, the Karzai family decided to stay in Afghanistan, despite enormous risk to their personal safety. In fact, their brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was killed by his bodyguard who was recruited by the Taliban. Hamid Karzai was one of the original Pashtun fighters who rose up against the Taliban in Kandahar during the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Ahmed Wali Karzai. AFP / Getty Images

Mahmood Karzai has been implicated in a number of scandals, most notably an investigation by the United States Internal Revenue Service which sought to uncover evidence of tax evasion, racketeering, and other crimes while he lived in the U.S. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2013 and has never been charged. He also came under fire when it was revealed he owned a 7% share in the Kabul bank during his brothers presidency and presided over the Ghori Cement Factory which was accused of internal corruption via insider trading and paying extremely low wages ($2/day in 2013).

It is not clear if the Taliban are referring to any of these scandals when they claimed “legal troubles” were the reason for the travel restriction. However, there is definitely a threat to the Karzai family.