Republicans Demand Answers Over Claims That Exiled-Afghan Leader Fled With $169 Million in Cash

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
August 25, 2021 Updated: August 25, 2021

Two top House Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are demanding answers over the allegations that exiled Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with $169 million in cash, as the Taliban terrorist group seized control of Kabul.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican on the committee, and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), the ranking member on the National Security subcommittee, wrote a letter (pdf) to Attorney General Merrick Garland following accusations that Ghani took large sums of money with him as he departed the presidential palace.

“President Ghani may have been self-dealing with U.S. funds intended for the Afghan people, having fled the country with enormous sums of cash totaling well over a hundred million dollars. If true, this was not the dignified exit of a benevolent head of state, but that of a coward and grifter,” the lawmakers wrote.

Comer and Grothman said that the United States must do everything in its power to seize “any illicitly gained funds that were corruptly embezzled by President Ghani.”

“If he diverted funds from their intended purposes, the U.S. should bring him to justice,” the lawmakers said.

Ghani’s exit from the country on Aug. 15 allowed the Taliban to take the capital unopposed. He fled as the Islamist insurgents entered Kabul, saying he did so to avoid bloodshed.

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Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 19, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

The lawmakers called it “imperative that corrupt foreign government officials not be permitted to personally enrich themselves with U.S. taxpayer money,” and charged that Ghani’s actions contributed “to the speed with which the Taliban took over the country.”

“It is unclear how President Ghani obtained such a large sum of cash, but the amount and nature of his flight from Afghanistan raises the specter that President Ghani illegally and corruptly embezzled these funds from U.S. assistance intended for the Afghan people’s welfare and defense,” the Republican lawmakers continued.

Speaking from exile in the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 18, Ghani denied reports that he fled the country with large sums of money.

The pair concluded their letter with a list of questions the said they want answered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), including whether it is probing the matter, if the alleged sum came out of U.S. funding, and what action the DOJ intends to take to bring Ghani “to justice,” if he did “engage in corrupt actions…to enrich himself at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the DOJ for comment.

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Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani arrives in Mazar-i-Sharif to check the security situation of the northern provinces, Afghanistan, on Aug. 11, 2021. (Afghan presidential palace/Handout via Reuters)

Months before he fled the country, Ghani claimed that his government could resist the terrorist group’s attacks without U.S. support, and that “no power in the world” could persuade him to get on a plane and leave the country.

“It is a country I love, and I will die defending,” he claimed in an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel published on May 14.

The president’s words saw tens of thousands of Afghan families flee their homes hoping to find safety from the approaching Taliban in Kabul.

Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh has remained in the country following Ghani’s exit. He said on Twitter on Aug. 17 that he has remained to fulfill his duty as the “caretaker president” as outlined in the country’s constitution, adopted in 2004.

He has since vowed to resist the Taliban from the Panjshir Valley, together with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the son of a former anti-Soviet mujahedeen commander.

Comer and Grothman have asked for answers to their questions by Aug. 31, which is President Joe Biden’s self-imposed deadline to pull remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.