Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Fahim Hashimy, a man in his 20s born and raised in Kabul, was an English teacher. His only possession at that time was a bicycle. However, with the presence of American footprints on Afghan soil, Hashhimy became one of the first people to be recruited to work as translators at a US military base.
A few years ago, when the business of Hashimy Group was at its peak, Hashhimy once shared very frankly with the press. In 2015, the revenue of this group was 200 million USD/year. They own Afghanistan’s second largest television station as well as construction and logistics businesses. Even a low-cost domestic airline was acquired by this group in 2013.
Hashhimy believes that his success is purely down to luck. “Not everyone can speak English and I’m lucky to do that. Besides, I’m ambitious and visionary, hard-working and responsible, and I know how to make suggestions.” Hashemy said.
Once firmly established and familiar with the way the US and British militaries worked, Hashhimy began to propose to undertake supply contracts for the coalition. The Afghan boy’s first order was $600 worth of small bed sheets. Until the US and its allies withdrew, Hashhimy was in charge of providing supplies and fuel for part of the US and coalition operations in Afghanistan.
Hashhimy’s method is also the way most other “9/11 millionaires” do. The bargain was so great that many people saw it as a life-changing opportunity. They take advantage of their family’s relationships with government officials or provincial leaders to secure lucrative contracts.
In this 6th poorest country in the world, the US has a policy of shaking hands with Afghan contractors to enhance cohesion as well as create conditions to boost the local economy. However, the corrupt quickly realized that the US government contract was an indispensable piece of cake.
The problem of corruption and protectionism has made America’s goals harmful. Not a few of the Americans’ money ended up in the hands of corrupt officials and opposition forces, including the Taliban. Even if the money being pumped in far exceeds the economy’s ability to absorb it, the people of Afghanistan are still starving.
According to Hashimy, many of the “9/11 millionaires” in Afghanistan used the money they made easily from connections and bribes, to buy properties abroad. Luxury and tax-friendly destinations like Dubai are a popular choice. No one has estimated the exact amount, but it must be in the tens of billions of dollars.
Much of this money is thrown into the real estate market, especially the man-made island resorts in Palm Jumeirah. Offering the best in service, the resorts here sell for $11 million.
“Many high-ranking generals and politicians, as well as wealthy individuals in the oil sector, have bought very expensive houses in Palm Jumeirah,” a real estate agent in Dubai told the BBC. , Dubai”.
Meanwhile, one such person living in Palm revealed that nearly a quarter of the property on this unique man-made island area of Dubai is owned by Afghan tycoons or warlords.
Hashhimy also has 2 houses in Dubai and 4 houses in Kabul. However, this man had a different philosophy. “We’re one of the few companies that invest back into Afghanistan. We’ve always been strongly committed to investing and are proud of that,” Hashhimy said.
Looking at Hashhimy’s business empire, this man probably doesn’t do color. Hashimy Group is a large corporation in Afghanistan with a large television station, many manufacturing plants, ownership of real estate, operations in the field of trucking or even a fledgling airline. However, the fate of this “9/11 millionaire” is unknown when the Taliban take control of the country. At present, all efforts of the media to contact Hashhimy have not been effective.
Since a few years ago, most of the Hashhimy family has lived in Dubai. After a security incident forced the closure of the international school in Kabul in 2015, Hashhimy’s two sons also moved to Dubai. Good security and outstanding educational opportunities in Dubai are the reasons that attract super-rich Afghans to move there.
This is in stark contrast to what is happening in the capital, Kabul, let alone the rest of the country. Millions of civilians live in the Afghan capital on less than $2 a day. According to the World Bank (WB)’s 2020 statistics, Afghanistan is the 6th poorest country globally, the basic capital rank has remained unchanged since 2002. The per capita income is only 500 USD/year.
Obviously, the enormous aid of the world and the enormous reconstruction of the United States during the past 20 years have not flowed into the pockets of the people of Afghanistan. In other words, this money only flows into the pockets of a small number of Afghans, who take it abroad to enjoy a luxurious life. Even if this country collapsed, their wealth would not be affected.
Back to the story of Hashimy, this empire had a different way to promote the development of the country. However, with the collapse of a government that has been hollowed out by corruption, the future of the assets owned by the Hashhimy Group is uncertain. More time is needed to see what the Taliban will do to boost the economy of Afghanistan, which has been devastated by war for the past 20 years.
References: BBC, CNBC