NEW YORK - The brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been receiving regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing current and former US officials. Ahmed Wali Karzai is a suspected player in Afghanistans opium trade and has been paid by the CIA over the past eight years for services that included helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIAs direction in and around the city of Kandahar, the newspaper said. In an interview, Ahmed Wali said, He cooperates with US civilian and military officials but does not engage in the drug trade and does not receive payments from the CIA, the Times reported. On the other hand, the CIA neither confirmed nor denied the reported payments. The Times cited several US officials as saying Ahmed and the CIA had a wide-ranging relationship. He helps the US spy agency operate the Kandahar Strike Force, a paramilitary group used for raids against suspected insurgents and militants, the officials told the newspaper. He is paid for allowing the CIA and US Special Operations troops to rent a compound that once belonged to Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar, it says, adding that it is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. The report further says the presidents brother also helps the CIA communicate and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. According to the paper, Ahmed Wali Karzai said in the interview he received regular payments from his brother, the president, for expenses but that he did not know where the money came from. I dont know anyone under the name of the CIA, he was quoted as saying. I have never received any money from any organisation. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan. According to the NYT, the agencys financial ties to Ahmed Wali and its working relations with him have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. Critics see the relationship as complicating Washingtons increasingly tense relationship with President Karzai, it said. The CIAs practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban, the Times adds. In addition, some US officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed undermines the push to develop an effective central government that would eventually allow the United States to withdraw, the paper reported. If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves, Maj Gen Michael Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan, told the Times.