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Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

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Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (born 1947 in Imam Saheb, Kunduz province, Afghanistan) is an Afghan warlord. He is a Ghilzai Pashtun of the Kharoti tribe, speaks several languages (including English), has three wives and several children. He has stated that he prefers an Afghan civil war rather than occupation by foreigners and foreign troops. Human rights groups allege that he is responsible for murdering more Afghans than the Soviet Union killed. He served as prime minister twice in the 1990s. He is currently in hiding.

Gholam Serwar Nasher, Khan of the Kharoti, thought of Hekmatyar as a bright young man sent him to a military school and then to Kabul University's engineering department in 1968, earning the nickname of "engineer Hekmatyar" among his followers. However, on his return to Kunduz he was jailed by Nasher for several days. It was Hekmatyar's father who requested Lord Nasher to do so in order to discipline the boy for toying too much with the communist ideology. At this time, Hekmatyar showed no sign of religious fundamentalism. In 1970, he joined the Muslim Youth. He was a member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) until he was accused in 1972 of the killing of a Maoist student. He was found guilty and sent to jail for two years. During the Daoud coup (1973) he escaped to Pakistan and was recruited by Pakistani intelligence.

In Pakistan, he founded the Hezbi Islami party (1975). It has been said that it was Hekmatyar who began the anti-Daoud movement's resurgement in the area of Panjshir. What triggered his actions was presumably the fact that Daoud put Gholam Serwar Nasher, Khan of the Kharoti (to which Hekmatyar belonged) to prison. However, members of Hezbi Islami and Hekmatyar himself denied he was ever involved with the communists.

In 1979, Mulavi Younas Khalis split with Hekmatyar and established his own Hezbi Islami, known as the Khalis faction, with its powerbase in Nangarhar.

During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Hekmatyar received billions of dollars in military assistance from funds the CIA channeled to the mujahadeen through Pakistan's ISI. He was described as power hungry, ruthless and cunning by the Pakistani government.

After the fall of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, Hekmatyar signed the Islamabad accords, which nominally made him Prime Minister. However, the accords fell apart and he aligned himself with Abdul Rashid Dostum's Hizb-e-Wahdat. Together they laid siege to Kabul, fighting Burhanuddin Rabbani and his Defense Minister Ahmed Shah Massoud. From 1992 to 1996, the warring factions destroyed 70% of Kabul and killed 50,000 people, most of them civilians.

The devistation and factionalization allowed the Taliban to take control in 1996, even when, a few months before the Taliban captured Kabul in September of that year, Rabani and Hekmetyar finally formed a power-sharing government in which Hekmetyar was prime minister. Hekmatyar fled to Iran where he continued to lead the Hezbi Islami party.

On September 18, 2001, Hekmatyar sided with Osama bin Laden and soon warned Pakistan for siding with the United States. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Taliban, Hekmatyar (still operating in Iran) rejected the U.N.-brokered accord of December 5, 2001, saying the pact negotiated in Germany amounted to a U.S.-imposed government for Afghanistan.

February 10 2002, all the offices of Hezb-e-Islami are closed in Iran. Hekmatyar was expelled him from his Iranian exile. His whereabouts became unknown. On March 11, through his deputy, Qutbuddin Hilal, Hekmatyar pledged support for Hamid Karzai. Hekmatyar also supported the return of the king.

The United States accuses him of urging the Taliban to re-form and to fight the United States. He is also accused of offering rewards for those who kill U.S. troops. He has been labeled a war criminal by members of the U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai's government. He is also a suspect behind the September 5, 2002 assassination attempt on Karzai that killed more than a dozen people.

Some reports have located him inside Tunisia, but in May 2002 the U.S. claimed that a CIA-operated Predator drone attacked Hekmatyar near Kabul, missing him but killing some followers.

In September 2002, Hekmatyar released a taped message calling for a jihad against the United States.

On December 25 of 2002, the news broke that American spy organizations had discovered Hekmatyar attempting to become a member of Al Qaeda. According to the news, he had said that he was available to aid them. However, in a video released by Hekmatyar September 1, 2003, he denied forming alliances with the Taliban or al-Qaeda but praised attacks against U.S. and international forces.

In October 2003 he declared a ceasefire with local commanders in Jalalabad, Kunar, Logar and Sarobi, and stated that they should only fight foreigners. Later that month (October 31) Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani held talks in Badakhshan.

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