Ex-Afghan President Probably Didn’t Flee Afghanistan With Millions, Finds Report

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his senior advisers probably fled Afghanistan millions who, contrary to rumours, disappeared during the Taliban takeover, an oversight report has found. With government records now controlled by the Taliban, pinpointing the ultimate culprit could be difficult.

The interim report published by the Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that Ghani and his advisers may have taken in nearly $500,000 during last summer’s government collapse when they left the country by helicopter, but the amount did not exceed $1 million, it said the report.

That’s far less than the $5 million that disappeared from the presidential palace and the estimated tens of millions that disappeared from the National Security Directorate’s vault during the chaos of the Taliban takeover.

Findings are included in an interim report on the theft of funds from Afghanistan, and a final report is expected after the inspector general conducts further interviews. But the interim report said it was difficult to determine who stole the millions because government records and security monitoring are now in the hands of the Taliban.

FILE: WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 25: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani makes brief remarks during a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council on National Reconciliation, in the Oval Office at the White House on June 25, 2021 in Washington, DC

Pete Marovich/Getty Images

After more than 30 interviews with former Afghan officials, the inspector general ruled out Ghani as the culprit in the interim report because he and his advisers were focused on evacuating quickly — and with more people than the helicopters were supposed to carry.

The Russian embassy in Kabul accused Ghani and his adviser of taking $169 million when they flew out of Afghanistan. The inspector general thought this unlikely due to the space and weight the cash would take up.

The report assessed that $169 million worth of hundred-dollar bills strung together would be “slightly larger than a standard American three-seater sofa” and weigh nearly two tons.

The presidential helicopters were too overloaded with passengers and fuel to accommodate additional cargo, particularly cargo weighing two tons, the interim report said.

As the The Taliban were fast approaching KabulGhani’s team focused on getting out alive.

The decision to flee was so abrupt that Ghani was barefoot and an officer had to search for his shoes, and Ghani didn’t even have time to find his passport before evacuating.

Ghani had arranged for his wife, former first lady Rula Ghani, to flee the country with senior officials, but as the security team took precautions, the president’s situation worsened. The head of the president’s security team warned the national security adviser that if the helicopters left Ghani behind, “the president would be killed,” the interim report said.

On Saturday, August 14, Ghani gave a video address from the presidential palace, expressing his belief that the Taliban advance could be stopped, but by the end of the next day he had fled, and videos of the Taliban inside the presidential palace were seen broadcast widely.

Ghani’s Facebook, on August 15, 2021, after he had already fled, shared a post which said in part: “The Taliban had made it clear that they are ready to attack Kabul and the people of Kabul to remove me. To avoid a deluge of bloodshed , I decided it was best to step out. The Taliban won the judgment by sword and gun and now they are responsible for protecting honor, wealth and self.

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