Haji Bashar

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Haji Bashir Noorzai is a convicted former Afghan drug lord, the Asian counterpart of the Colombian cocaine legend Pablo Escobar. He was an early supporter of the austere Taliban movement, and later worked as an undercover agent on behalf of the U.S. government. Despite being among America's most wanted drug traffickers, he agreed to come to New York for a debriefing after being promised by his handlers that he would not be arrested.[1] He was arrested ten days after his arrival.[1]

Fought against Soviet occupation[edit]

He fought the Soviet forces that occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.

Mayor of Kandahar[edit]

He was left in charge of Kandahar after Mullah Omar went into hiding. He provided explosives, weapons, and militia fighters to the Taliban regime.

Aided U.S. forces[edit]

Mr. Noorzai was in Quetta when the September 11 attacks occurred, and soon afterwards returned to Afghanistan. In November 2001, he met with men he described as American military officials at Spinboldak, near the Afghan-Pakistani border. Small teams of U.S. Special Forces and intelligence officers were in Afghanistan at the time, seeking the support of tribal leaders. According to his lawyer, Noorzai was taken to Kandahar, where he was detained and questioned for six days by the Americans about Taliban officials and operations. He agreed to work with them and was freed, and in late January 2002 he handed over 15 truckloads of weapons, including about 400 anti-aircraft missiles, that had been hidden by the Taliban in his tribe's territory.[2]

Arrest in New York[edit]

In April 2005, U.S. authorities in New York arrested Noorzai. He was charged with trying to smuggle more than US$50 million worth of heroin into the United States. He is one of ten people and organizations on a U.S. list of most-wanted drug traffickers. RFE/RL looks at alleged ties between Afghanistan's former Taliban regime and the illegal narcotics trade in light of the Noorzai arrest.[3] Noorzai was represented at his 2008 trial by New York high profile criminal defense lawyer Ivan Fisher. The case has raised substantial questions about U.S. foreign policy abroad. In 2008 Noorzai was convicted of smuggling $50 million worth of heroin into the United States. On April 30, 2009 he appeared before Judge Denny Chin, who sentenced Noorzai to life imprisonment.

References[edit]