KABUL, Afghanistan — Two senior Afghan officials were showing President Hamid Karzai the evidence of the spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month when Mr. Karzai told them that he believed the Taliban were not responsible.
“The president did not show any interest in the evidence — none — he
treated it like a piece of dirt,” said Amrullah Saleh, then the director
of the Afghan intelligence service.
Mr. Saleh declined to discuss Mr. Karzai’s reasoning in more detail. But
a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Karzai suggested in the meeting
that it might have been the Americans who carried it out.
Minutes after the exchange, Mr. Saleh and the interior minister, Hanif
Atmar, resigned — the most dramatic defection from Mr. Karzai’s
government since he came to power nine years ago. Mr. Saleh and Mr.
Atmar said they quit because Mr. Karzai made clear that he no longer
considered them loyal.