Afghanistan's leading private airline has been transporting opium in "bulk" on civilian flights, the US military says. Central Command has now banned Kam Air from any military contracts, marking the first time the military has slapped drug-related penalties on a major Afghan firm, the Wall Street Journal notes. "Kam Air is too large of a company not to know what has been going on within its organization," says a US commander. The airline has allegedly been carrying opium to Tajikistan, a base for worldwide distribution of Afghan drugs, Western officials say.
Kam Air president and founder Zamari Kamgar "totally" rejects the allegations, calling them a likely ploy by competitors; Kam Air has been discussing a merger with the state's Ariana Afghan Airlines. Afghanistan is already the source of 90% of illicit opiates worldwide, according to the UN, which says that "export earnings from Afghan opiates may be worth $2.4 billion," or 15% of Afghanistan's GDP. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)