Afghan Biographies

Mirzad, Said Hashim

Name Mirzad, Said Hashim
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth
Function/Grade ex USA-Embassy Senior Adviser National Ressources
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Director of the Afghanistan Geological Survey,
Deputy minister of Mines and Geology,
USA-Embassy Senior Adviser National Ressources,

mirzad_saidAfghanistan-born Said Mirzad spent three years in Paris studying math, physics, chemistry, and geometry at Louis Le Grand, along with general math at La Sorbonne. His studies at both schools led him to achieve a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Mirzad was then prepared to attend Ecole Polytechnique de Lorraine, where he earned his master’s degree in applied geology and engineering geology. While attending Ecole Polytechnique de Lorraine, Mirzad also attended the University of Nance, France, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology.

In addition, Mirzad is a master’s degree candidate in computer science from San Diego State University. He was director of the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) before the Soviet invasion in 1979. During the 1973 coup d' état in Afghanistan against the king, he was put Mirzad in prison for a year. Dec. 1981, Mirzad immigrated to the United States, where, "The limit is your own imagination," he said. He taught computer science and mathematics in Kansas City at both the University of Missouri and Platt College.

He later moved to San Diego, Calif., where he taught at San Diego State University. 1990, the USGS hired Mirzad as the information technology manager of the San Diego office. When DOI nominated him to work with rehabilitation efforts in Afghanistan, he relocated to the USGS headquarters in Reston, Va. President Karzai and the Afghan people had faith in Mirzad and trusted his vision. Abdul Ahad Karzai, President Karzai's father, played bridge with Mirzad, and Mirzad was well known in Afghanistan for his previous work in the country. Before Mirzad's imprisonment, he had 3,000 people working for him.

Afghan-Bios Insiders View:
Mirzad was a Senior Adviser National Ressources in the Afghan Reconstruction Group in the USA Embassy in Kabul. He is a staunch conservative person who pulled the strings from behind on the afghan national ressources and observed mainly U.S. interests in this regard. Some people say he acted obstractive.

Said Hashim Mirzad is an Engineer Geologist and the Afghanistan Program Co-Coordinator USGS International Programs. Mirzad has deep and historic connections in Afghanistan, where his brother-in-law is the minister of defence (Wardak). Mirzad is also the mentor of the minister of mines, Mohamad Ibrahim Adel, who was one of those criticized for the handling of the Aynak copper bidding competition. And Mirzad has powerful allies in Washington DC, both the US state and defence departments awarded him medals for outstanding service in 2005. In Afghanistan, Mirzad has aided multiple projects, such as an airborne geological assessment he urged the Karzai government to fund after aid agencies declined.

But some also see him as an obstructionist. Beginning in early 2005, SanFilipo attempted unsuccessfully to return to Afghanistan to continue his fieldwork and geological map inventory. His repeated requests to US officials in Kabul for clearance to return were denied, keeping him out of the country for 15 months. He was finally allowed to return three times in 2006, but not since then. “A geologist must go out in the field to see,” says Rahman Ashraf, praising Yeager and SanFilipo's expeditions. Sources say that denials for SanFilipo's travel to Afghanistan were traced to Mirzad, who was in Kabul advising Zalmay Khalilzad, then the US ambassador to Afghanistan. Khalilzad is arguably the Bush administration's most-favoured Afghan and has since been appointed as the US ambassador to the United Nations. Mirzad's historic friendships also extend to the presidential palace in Afghanistan: he used to play bridge with President Karzai's father.

Mirzad, though, denies hindering SanFilipo's work in any way. “This is all gossip,” he says. “There is not a shred of evidence.” But neither he nor the USGS officials could explain why SanFilipo was refused access to Afghanistan during the time in question. In October 2006, SanFilipo lectured at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the poor state of mining in Afghanistan. Not long afterwards, he was removed as the project leader for the USGS effort. Since the meeting, he has declined to discuss the issue publicly. These events set back coal exploration in Afghanistan substantially, say several sources in Afghanistan and the United States, who requested anonymity so they may continue to help the country without reprisals.

“It is unforgivable what has happened, a disaster,” says Mary Louise Vitelli, a US attorney in Kabul who has worked extensively in war-torn regions. “Guys like SanFilipo are rare, he produces quality analysis under difficult circumstances.”

And some scientists with long-term experience in the subcontinent saw the tapping of Mirzad for a reconstruction role as counterproductive — as were other selections by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jack Shroder, a geologist at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, has worked in Afghanistan for 35 years, conducting glacial, mapping and global-positioning-system studies. He has been integrally involved in the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, a multidisciplinary organization to foster research. But Shroder says that he and his fellow institute leaders were never consulted about the Bush administration's science policy for Afghanistan. “We were the boots-on-the ground guys — in and out of Afghanistan before the terrorist attacks,” he says. “They completely ignored us, they think academics are all left-wingers.” Shroder also says that he has repeatedly encountered difficulties dealing with Mirzad, whom he calls a hard-core nationalist. “He didn't want foreigners to get access to maps, even if they were helping,” says Shroder.

But Mirzad expressed surprise that he would be seen as an obstructionist. “I believe the only thing that can save Afghanistan is its indigenous wealth. I am completely behind that,” he says. USGS managers of international programmes, such as Asia project chief Jack Medlin, praise Mirzad for fighting to secure funds for the agency to work in Afghanistan. Even so, the USGS wanted $12 million a year for five years to develop resources in Afghanistan, but scrapes by with about $9 million a year. On 13 November 2007, the USGS is scheduled to release a status report on minerals in Afghanistan, after some delay. The main coal report isn't to be released until next year, albeit short of data as few USGS scientists have gone to Afghanistan this year. Expatriate Afghan geologist Shah Wali Faryad, now of Charles University in Prague, repeatedly invited USGS scientists to attend a conference on geological opportunities on 15–16 October in Kabul, but the agency didn't respond. Medlin cites security issues as the reason.

Mirzad made a lot of money in his capacity as an adiviser in the USA Embassy in Kabul.

Said H. Mirzad and his wife Naffisa H. bought an masion in Washington Metropolitan Area, ESTANCIA TERR., 19741- from Chester F. III and Greta M. Cherry for $435,000.

Last Modified 2011-04-24
Established 2009-10-20