- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 25, 2002

The State Department is planning to take over security for Afghan President Hamid Karzai next month, including training a local security force for the leader, a department spokeswoman said.
Under the plan, members of the department's Diplomatic Security Service will replace U.S. troops, who took over from Mr. Karzai's Afghan guards last month after the assassination of an Afghan vice president raised concerns about security in Kabul.
"If we are to build and enhance the authority of the central government, that government must be in a position to operate without the fear of terrorist retaliation," State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said late Friday. "Presidential protection is one part of that mission."
The protection detail will last about a year, Ms. Prokopowicz said, adding that the mission will also involve the U.S. military and private contractors.
One goal of the plan is to "train Afghan personnel in our protection methods" to defend Mr. Karzai and to eventually relinquish responsibility for protecting him, Ms. Prokopowicz said.
She said the decision to use State Department security, first reported by The Washington Post, was made following high-level discussions with the Defense Department.
Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir, one of five Afghan vice presidents and the national public works minister, was shot dead July 6 outside his office by two men who fled the scene. He had no bodyguards with him at the time.
He was the second government minister assassinated as Mr. Karzai's interim government has sought to establish its authority following the ouster of the Taliban government in December.
The killing in January of the aviation and tourism minister, Abdul Rahman, also remains unsolved.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the State Department's security and law-enforcement arm, protecting U.S. diplomatic personnel around the world, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. The security service also protects Cabinet-level foreign officials who visit the United States.
"Diplomatic security has a long tradition of excellence in protecting dignitaries domestically and abroad," Ms. Prokopowicz said.

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