Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin often operates like both a crime family and an apostle of al Qaeda. Gulbaddin Hekmatyar [gull-boo-DEEN hehk-mah-T-YAHR], an anti-American Pashtun Afghan mujahedin leader, leads the Hizb-i-Islami [hiz-BEH is-lah-MEE] Afghanistan, also known as HIG [Hezbe Islami Gulbuddin], a fundamentalist faction of the mujahideen. In the early 1990s, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar served as prime minister of Afghanistan. He was the man most responsible for the fighting that left Kabul in ruins. Hikmatyar`s Hizb-e-Islami, was a key ally and favorite of Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). Hekmatyar's faction was abandoned by its Pakistani backers as the Omar faction grew in power in the late 1990s. Since the events of September 11, 2001 Hekmatyar, an ethnic Pashtun, formed an anti-coalition alliance with Taliban leader Muhammad Omar and the remnants of the al Qaeda group in the country. Hekmatyar's base of support was always in the Khyber Pass Jalalabad area, east of Kabul, but he still has supporters throughout Afghanistan.
Hekmatyar was the leader of the Hezb-I-Islami party, which was perhaps the most radical among the seven parties that made up the fractious anti-Soviet Afghan alliance of the 1980s. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a key mujahedin leader against Soviet forces. His organization, then known as the Hezb-e-Islami, received substantial aid from the U.S. Government, which reportedly considered him a key ally. He espouses virulent anti-Americanism and a radical Islamic ideology, but nevertheless accepted US arms and assistance - funneled through Pakistan - to fight occupying Soviet forces. Hezb-e-Islami committed numerous other human rights violations during the Afghan civil war. It's said that he and his forces probably killed more Afghans than he did Soviets. He was essentially unique among mujahedin leaders -- certainly the most ambitious among a very, very ambitious group of leaders.
The Hezb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) was initially one of the most disciplined of the guerrilla groups that fought against Soviet occupation. Even though Hezb-i-Islami received millions of dollars worth of military and financial aid from the United States, they still failed to liberate Afghanistan from the Communists. The major Afghan political factions are largely based on the former resistance organizations. Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) and President Burhanuddin Rabbani's Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society) were bitter rivals for political influence in Afghanistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) initially supported the Hizb-i-Islami under Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to dislodge the Rabbani government. Pakistan feared that an exclusively non-Pashtun government of President B. Rabbani would lead Afghanistan’s Pashtuns to revive the demand for Pashtunistan.
Hekmatyar was friendly with Osama bin Laden when the latter was participating in the war against the Soviets. Bin Laden was linked with the Mujahedin group of Professor Rasul Sayyaf, who allegedly was a Wahhabi. The groups led by Hekmatyar and by Sayyaf had little in common, but their two leaders were allegedly close to a blind Egyptian cleric -- Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman - who was imprisoned in 1995 for his part in a conspiracy to destroy several New York City landmarks.
He twice held the title of Prime Minister during the early 1990’s civil war period. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar ran terrorist training camps in the 1990’s with Gulf nation and Pakistani ISI backing. On 01 January 1994, troops in Kabul commanded by the leader of the National Islamic Movement (NIM), General Abdul Rashid Dostam, theretofore aligned with President Rabbani, switched to Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's side. Aided by forces loyal to Hekmatyar, they attempted a coup d'etat against President Rabbani. The President's forces quickly countered and the attempt was foiled, but the protracted fighting caused heavy civilian casualties and the destruction of much of Kabul, and the ensuing fighting engulfed much of northern parts of the country. Fighting raged in Kabul's old business district, with both sides employing heavy weapons and air strikes which took a heavy toll of civilian life and wreaked destruction on much of Kabul. In February 1994 Prime Minister Hekmatyar imposed a food blockade on northern Kabul, the area controlled by President Rabbani's troops.
In July 1994 Commander Naser of Laghman Province, who was affiliated with Hekmatyar's party, and 10 of his bodyguards were reportedly murdered as Naser traveled to meet with a rival. In September 1994 Commander Sadiq, also a follower of Hekmatyar, and his bodyguard were murdered in Nangarhar Province while returning from a visit to Pakistan. Sadiq was rumored to have been involved in narcotics trafficking, a Pashtun intratribal dispute, and the factional fighting in Kabul--any of which may have provided the motive for his murder. President Rabbani's forces apparently targeted Hekmatyar himself in a 12 August 1994 air raid that demolished his living quarters. Subsequent air attacks were made on a hospital facility where Hekmatyar was thought to be under treatment for injuries sustained in the August 12 air raid; in fact he had escaped serious injury.
Eventually, the remarkable success of the Taleban, and economic considerations, led to Pakistan’s policy change in 1994-95 towards its support for the Taleban. Hekmatyar served briefly as Afghanistan's prime minister. But the Taleban took power after he had been in office only two months. In February 1996 the Taleban drove former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's forces out of southern Kabul and disarmed Hizb-i-Islami Shi'a forces allied with Hekmatyar. Hikmatyar offered to shelter Usama bin Laden after the latter fled Sudan in 1996
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar began living in Iran in 1996. In that time he often criticized Tehran's Afghan policy and its Afghan allies, but Tehran put up with him. He came out against the Afghan groups that formed the Northern Alliance, or United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan. He also got involved with the Cyprus Process, which was initiated in 1999 by Tehran as a counter to other Afghan peace processes. In early October 2001, he criticized Tehran for supporting the Northern Alliance and denounced the Northern Alliance for its willingness to cooperate with the US. He then said he was negotiating with the Taliban, and in case of a US military attack he would return to oppose the US forces. On 29 October 2001 the Afghan opposition received guarantees that Iran was not preparing notorious exiled warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for a comeback. By 2002 Tehran's tolerance with its outspoken guest seemed to have ended, possibly because of U.S. allegations that Tehran was trying to undermine the Kabul administration, and the Iranian government began thinking about expelling Hekmatyar.
In early 2002 the Iranian kicked out Hekmatyar, under US pressure. An anonymous "informed official" said on 26 February 2002 that former Afghan Premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has left his Iranian home for an undisclosed destination, IRNA reported. Tehran recently closed the offices of his party, the Hizb-i Islami, and the anonymous official said that the decision that Hekmatyar should leave was relayed to him a few days earlier. The warlord promptly set about rallying his forces and declaring a new jihad against allied forces. Hekmatyar's precise whereabouts were inititally something of a mystery since his expulsion from Iran.
In April 2002 Afghanistan's interim government linked members of the Hezb-I-Islami faction to a plot to attack interim leader Hamid Karzai and the returning exiled king, Mohammad Zahir Shah. On 09 May 2002 the CIA tried but failed to kill the warlord, by using an unmanned spy plane to fire a missile at him in Afghanistan.
Hekmatyar had been generally thought to be an unaligned, renegade guerrilla leader. Fliers distributed in 2002 in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, however, claimed Hekmatyar had joined forces with al Qaeda terrorists. In December 2002, Hekmatyar declared a jihad against foreign forces in Afghanistan, although he denied reports that he had formed an alliance with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In a statement quoted by the Pakistan-based private Afghan Islamic Press on 6 January 2003, Hekmatyar denied that he is allied with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, Reuters reported. Hekmatyar said that he does not want to fight President Hamid Karzai's government: "I want to make it clear that until [sic] America rules our country and forces of others occupy our country, we do not intend to wage war against the interim administration or any Afghan group." Nevertheless, Hekmatyar reiterated his anti-Americanism, saying, "The Afghan mujahedin have pledged to themselves that that they will force America out of their country like the Soviet Union and will not lay down their arms until they drive the occupying forces out of their country."
There have been mortar and rocket attacks on coalition targets in the country. US Central Command officials said it is sometimes difficult to tell whether an attack was directed at the coalition or was fighting among rival Afghan factions. In Operation Mongoose near Spin Boldak, troopers of the 82nd Airborne Division continued cave destruction in the Adi Ghar Mountains. The operation began 27 January 2003. At least 18 Afghan fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar were killed.
He was designated a terrorist by the U.S. in February 2003 for his past support to al Qaeda. On 19 February 2003 it was announced that the US Government had information indicating that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Because of his terrorist activity, the United States designated Hekmatyar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224. At the same time, the United States requested that the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee include Hekmatyar on its consolidated list of entities and individuals associated with Usama bin Laden, al-Qa’ida, and the Taliban, which would obligate all Member States to impose sanctions, including assets freezes, under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1390, and 1455.
Hizb-e Islami leader Gulbudin Hekmatyar said that "people who support the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan are enemies of the people of Afghanistan," Iranian state radio's Pashtu-language service reported on 05 March 2003. Hekmatyar's went on to say that Afghanistan would be free of unrest once all foreign forces are expelled. Broadcasting Hekmatyar's statements in the Pashtu language is part of Iranian efforts to use the ethnic factor to turn Pashtuns against the central government.
Coalition and Afghan militia forces launched Operation Unified Resolve with a series of movements throughout the eastern province of Nangarhar, 18 June 2003. The operation concentrated around Jalalabad with about 500 American service members, mostly from the 82nd Airborne Division, participating. The troopers, part of Task Force Devil, worked with two companies of local Afghan militia to kill or capture or deny sanctuary to anti-coalition forces. Jalalabad is a strategic city located on the main route between the Afghan capital Kabul and the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The area was a stronghold of the Taliban, and al Qaeda maintained a large presence in the area. Operation Unified Resolve was planned and executed in cooperation with the Afghan national government and provincial officials.
Anti-coalition forces had launched uncoordinated attacks against coalition forces in the area. These mostly consist of rocket attacks, bobby traps and planting mines. Combined Joint Task Force 180 officials attribute much of the unrest to a group headed by Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.
On 2 July 2003 Gulbuddin Hekmatyar urged Afghans to "cut off the hands of the foreign meddlers" and drive all foreign forces out of Afghanistan. Hekmatyar forwarded his video message to AP from his mountain hideout, believed to be situated somewhere in Konar Province near the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The important Taliban “Peshawar Shura” is headquartered in Pakistan’s North West Frontier province. The militias headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani are fighting US forces alongside the Taliban. Hekmatyar operates in the tribal areas of Dir and Bajur, while Jalaluddin Haqqani is based in Waziristan. Local warlords in northeastern Kapisa province belonging to veteran Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami conducted guerrilla operations against NATO troops, along with.
In 2008, Hekmatyar apparently opened the door to talks with the Government of Afghanistan, in part through a spring 2008 letter addressed to President Karzai. Some suggest that there may be some potential for drawing Hekmatyar away from the insurgent fight and into a constructive role. Others caution that his reputation for Islamic extremism and human rights abuses call into question the likelihood and advisability of any reconciliation with him.