Jailed Afghan drug lord was informer on US payroll: Officials

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 12, 2010 13:20 hrs

Hajji Juma Khan, the biggest and most dangerous drug lord in Afghanistan who was arrested and transported to New York to face charges under a new American narco-terrorism law in 2008, was a longtime American informer, according to current and former American officials.

According to the New York Times, Central Intelligence Agency officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents relied on Khan as a valued source, who provided information about the Taliban, Afghan corruption and other drug traffickers.

"Afghan drug lords have often been useful sources of information about the Taliban. But relying on them has also put the USin the position of looking the other way as these informers ply their trade in a country that by many accounts has become a narco-state," the paper said.

Officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, said that Khan's case shows how counternarcotics policy has repeatedly shifted during the nine-year American occupation of Afghanistan.

"Getting caught between the conflicting priorities of counterterrorism and nation building, so much so that Khan was never sure which way to jump," the paper said.

Meanwhile, when asked about Khan's relationship with the C.I.A., a spokesman for the spy agency said that the "C.I.A. does not, as a rule, comment on matters pending before U.S. courts."

His New York lawyer, Steven Zissou, denied that Khan had ever supported the Taliban or worked for the C.I.A.There have been many things said about Hajji Juma Khan, and most of what has been said, including that he worked for the C.I.A., is false," Zissou said.

"What is true is that H. J. K. has never been an enemy of the United States and has never supported the Taliban or any other group that threatens Americans," he added. (ANI)