The U.S. efforts to pacify the violence in Afghanistan might want to start with the government officials themselves. Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal allegedly threatened to cut Shakib Noori, Afghan’s commercial attaché at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, “into pieces.” The proposed Shakib Shish Kebab was never prepared, though it was detailed in an email sent on April 28, 2012 and carbon copied to various other officials. Noori says in emails that he believes that this is not mere hyperbole, but a real threat. It turns out that the law firm Holland & Knight is featured prominently in the controversy.
Zakhilwal is a close association and member of the cabinet of President Hamid Karzai.
Noori wrote in an email that “You called me from your Dubai phone number (971*********) on April 26, 2012 at 4:13PM (Washington DC Time) threatening my life, you said; you will cut me into pieces. You said; you will tear me apart. You said; you will kill me in Afghanistan. You said; you will kill my family. You’ve cursed my father and my mother. You used the most disgusting words ever. I have clearly recorded your voice. A copy of that will be sent to everyone so that they know your “real” character and personality. I will make sure – a copy of your recorded voice reaches to H.E. President Hamid Karzai.” Noori wrote “The way you yelled at me on the phone. You seemed a person that could be a serious threat to our life.”
It appears that the dispute began with a dinner at Cafe Milano where Omar Zakhilwal was taken out by a female Iranian lawyer based in Kabul who was sent to resolve a contracting firm DynCorp’s “tax dispute” with an Afghan company. They were seated next to an Afghan delegation with Noori and three other Afghan officials. There appears to be some question of why Omar Zakhilwal was meeting with the woman and Afghan gossip sites have suggested that the Holland & Knight lawyer was offering more than good advocacy. He insists that “For your information, our dinner conversation in the restaurant was focused on DynCorp’s tax dispute.” There have been allegations that he had been given a bribe and that he was in an improper relationship with the lawyer. Corruption is widespread in the Karzai government and Zakhilwal has been specifically cited as the recipient of millions of bribes and gifts. In his response, Noori refers to the “so-called business dinner.”
The involvement of Holland & Knight raise some interesting possible problems. There is the potential criminal liability for an alleged bribe. It is not clear if the lawyer is a D.C. bar member, but the firm itself could be subject to an ethics complaint. However, it is not clear who would demand such an investigation. The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration, has largely turned a blind eye to Karzai and his cronies stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. The Administration is unlikely to start enforcing federal law and policies on corruption at this late date.
Source: Buzz Feed