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U.S.: Report on al-Qaida, Karzai's brother is old

/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. military on Friday dismissed a media report citing intelligence suspicions that senior al-Qaida leaders were hiding in Pakistan and that the Afghan president's brother had ties to drug trafficking as being outdated.

But U.S. spokesman Col. Tom Collins declined to reject the authenticity of the report, saying he was unable to discuss classified military information. Afghan officials, however, rejected the claims against the president's brother as baseless.

ABC News reported Thursday that it had obtained a computer flash drive stolen from the U.S. base at Bagram, north of the Kabul, and sold at a nearby bazaar.

ABC claimed the drive contained files indicating that American forces knew locations in neighboring Pakistan of where top al-Qaida targets, including deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri, were hiding.

The file also indicated American frustration over Pakistan's "political and military inertia" in hunting wanted terrorists in territories where U.S. forces are not allowed to enter. Arab, Central Asian and Afghan militants with al-Qaida and Taliban links operate inside Pakistani territory and cross into Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahri and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden are believed to he hiding in the region. The U.S. military said the information on the computer drive was at least 18 months old.

"This information was compiled during a time and environment that is significantly different from today and by personnel who have long since moved on," the U.S. military said in a statement. The statement praised Pakistani security cooperation with the U.S. military and Afghanistan's government.

"When we and our Pakistani allies have precise information on al-Qaida, we act decisively," the statement said.

"It's important to remember that no one has killed or captured more senior al-Qaida terrorists than Pakistan."

Karzai's brother implicated in drugs trade
A document on the flash drive also alleged that the younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai received bribes from Afghan drug lords.

The brother, Wali Karzai, rejected the report as baseless, saying his "family morals" prevent him from dealing in drugs.

"They want to give my brother a bad name," said Wali Karzai, who heads Kandahar province's provincial council and the area's tribal council.

"I hate this business of drugs. I never do that." Afghanistan supplies nearly 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin and some of the drug profits have long been believed to fund Taliban rebels.

Much of the drugs are thought to be smuggled through Iran and Pakistan to Europe and elsewhere.

U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry has ordered a review of policies and procedures relating to the accountability of computer hardware and software after the flash drives with sensitive date first turned up at the Bagram bazaar in April.

The shops around Bagram sprung up when U.S. forces took over the base in 2001 after ousting the Taliban for harboring bin Laden.

They sell a range of military equipment, much of which has been stolen from the base, according to several shopkeepers -- all of whom declined to give their names for fear of repercussions.