Interview With Afghan Islamist Leader Gulboddin Hekmatyar On Jihad Against U.S.
On December 25, 2002, Afghan Islamist
leader Gulboddin Hekmatyar announced that his militia joined forces with
the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida in a "holy war" against all international and
peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan. (1) Hekmatyar, who lived in exile in
Iran during the Taliban's rule, returned after U.S.-led forces defeated
it. Hekmatyar stated on behalf of his group, Hezb-e-Islami, that it "will
fight [its] Jihad until foreign troops are gone from Afghanistan and
Afghans have set up an Islamic government." (2) The following are excerpts
from an interview with Hekmatyar that was published in the November 2,
2002 edition of the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat: (3)
Taliban Should Focus on the U.S. Military in Afghanistan
Question: "You have declared Jihad [holy war] against the American and
foreign forces in Afghanistan but not against the government which the
Americans have created. You were criticized by the Taliban movement
because of this stand."
Hekmatyar: "There were several reasons for this. The first is that the
Afghan government is insignificant. It has no importance to make us pay
any attention to it. It does not merit a declaration of Jihad against it.
I think that it would be unwise to waste our time on a paper government.
The main reason, however, is that we must, by religion and rationale,
distinguish between the main enemy and others. We must classify the
enemies and deal with them according to their danger. No one should doubt
that this government will automatically end when its foreign masters are
defeated. Therefore, I advise the Taliban to stop making criticisms and
objections and exercise positive action against the enemy. I advise them
to concentrate their efforts against the American forces through military
operations instead of devoting themselves to blowing up video stores and
so forth. The battle is with the Americans. The reason for what we are
facing is the American presence in Afghanistan. We must end this presence,
and then its supporters will collapse..."
On Osama bin Laden
Question: "Do you have any connection with the Al-Qa'ida organization?
Have you met Osama bin Laden since your return from Tehran? How do you
view the operations attributed to him in the United States, Kuwait, Yemen
and other places?"
Hekmatyar: "No organizational relationship exists between us and the
Taliban and Al-Qa'ida. We think it is wrong to attribute the resistance in
the Islamic countries and the opposition to the United States to the
person of Osama bin Laden. American leaders made a mistake when they
thought that killing bin Laden would end the resistance against their
country because the resistance is just a reaction to the provocative,
wrong and hostile policies of the United States against Islam. These
policies have aroused the anger of the peoples."
"The Americans can kill hundreds of figures like Osama bin Laden, but they
cannot extinguish the fire of the resistance. We declare our support for
every movement that works for Islam, struggles for the restoration of
independence and helps the oppressed and persecuted in their wars against
Question: "Do you view the American presence in the Arab and Islamic
region in the same way as Osama bin Laden views it?"
Hekmatyar: "The nation, whether individuals or groups, has the same view
of the American military and political presence in the Arab and Islamic
countries. All want the United States to close its military bases,
withdraw its forces, stop interfering in the internal affairs of other
countries, cease its efforts to make the Islamic countries a market for
its weapons and goods, and abandon the idea of dominating the world."
Question: "Is it true that [there is] cooperation between you, bin Laden,
and the Taliban? Are there efforts to form a United Front?"
Hekmatyar: "I have always supported the idea of unifying all the Islamic
movements and parties on state and world levels to form a unified front. I
hope that our dream will materialize in order for us to achieve the
desired goal. However, I say that regrettably no talks have taken place on
a high level between the Taliban movement and us. I am confident that all
faithful Mujahideen will unite in one rank to defend their religion,
honor, country and people."
"Shari'a Does Not Permit Cooperation with Occupiers"
Question: "Do you have contacts with the other Afghan forces, particularly
the forces represented in the government? How do you explain the decision
of militant figures which fought against the Soviet presence to side with
Hekmatyar: "We have avoided contacts with the groups that joined the
government because they sided with the United States. There was no use in
contacting them after they supported the American attack and were now
working within an Afghan administration formed by Washington."
"American forces are guarding the presidential palace and foreign forces
are in control of all the airports in the country. We think that it is not
permissible under the shari'a to cooperate with the occupiers. It is also
not permissible to join this government, because it is an agent
government. Islam does not permit a Muslim to live in submission under
infidels and aggressors. I think that Afghanistan is currently categorized
as a 'Domain of War' [Dar Al-Harb]. All Afghans must remove the invading
forces from their country. It is not possible for us to reach a dialogue
now with those who supported the United States, because there will be no
benefit in establishing contact and dialogue with them. They sided with
the Russians in the past and received weapons and financial aid from
Message to the U.S. Congress
Question: "Do you think that your recent message to the U.S. Congress
Hekmatyar: "The purpose of that message was to expose the facts which the
American leaders have been hiding from their people and the world... The
leaders of the United States are aware of the Kremlin's experience in
Afghanistan, and they will face the same fate. They have fallen in a swamp
from which it will be difficult for them to get out... The proof is that
one year after their aggression they are still facing attacks by the
Mujahideen and counter-operations are intensifying day after day."
Question: "What are the operations you have carried out until now? What is
the similarity between your operations and the operations that you carried
out against the Soviets in the past?"
Hekmatyar: "I pray to Allah to make my participation and share in the
Jihad against the Americans much greater than in the Jihad against the
Russians. I hope that Allah will consider me a participant in all the
operations that have been carried out and will be carried out against the
Americans. If we compare the number of operations that took place in the
first four months of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with the number of
operations that took place during the same period after the American
invasion, we can see that it was much higher in terms of number and
losses. The Mujahideen have applied all the military experience and skill
they learned in their war against the Soviets."
On Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and China's Support of the U.S.
Question: "How do you evaluate the Pakistani policy towards you? Are you
cooperating with the neighboring countries in your war against the
Hekmatyar: "The Afghan people are bitter about all the states that helped
the United States in its aggression against Afghanistan. Russia and China
have problems because of the presence of Islamic movements that oppose
them. They viewed the Islamic government in Afghanistan as the source of
their problems. Therefore, they cooperated with the United States. Iran
did the same. As for Pakistan, it is part of a competition game with
India, Russia and Iran. It found itself forced to stand with the United
States on every issue, whether small or large. It supported the United
States in forming the Northern Alliance government and did not object to
the destruction of a movement [the Taliban], which it created."
"In their struggle, the Afghan people are not hoping for any support or
aid from the neighboring countries or from the world. They will continue
the resistance, with Allah's help, depending on the weapons and equipment
they have. Perhaps after the resistance grows stronger and our neighbors
become confident that the United States was facing imminent failure and
had no other choice but to withdraw, some states would support the
resistance. This is what happened during the Soviet invasion of our
Hekmatyar: Target of the U.S.
Question: "Do you regard yourself as an American target? What is your
opinion about the searching of the Shamshattoo camp in Pakistan, where
your followers are present, by the Pakistani and American security
Hekmatyar: "... The United States is against every Muslim and every Muslim
power. It helped the Northern Alliance and then supported the Taliban in
its opposition to us. It forced the Iranian government to decide to remove
me from Iran. I asked it not to make a decision that would let me fall
into an American trap and be taken prisoner. I then decided by myself to
leave Iran without informing the Iranian officials and returned to
Afghanistan. The United States did not like this. Zalmay Khalilzad, the
representative of [President George] Bush in Afghanistan, stated that the
removal of Hekmatyar from Iran did not reflect the good intentions of the
Iranians. After my return to the country, the American forces launched a
surprise missile attack on me. American intelligence chief CIA Director
George Tenet stated that a pilot-less aircraft carried out the attack,
which killed four of my followers. [U.S. Defense Secretary Donald]
Rumsfeld supported the attack and so did Bush when he said that the United
States does not oppose attacking anyone that threatens its interests."
"The Americans thought that the attacks on their soldiers and centers
began after my return to the country and after I declared the Jihad
against the invading foreign forces. They attributed these attacks to me
because they thought that the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida were incapable of
carrying out such operations."
"Therefore, the American forces carried out a wide-scale search for me in
the various provinces. They searched Nurestan, Wardag, Ghazni and some
areas in Logar. They used to tell every province chief: 'We know that
Hekmatyar is here; we monitored his telephone calls, and we are here
looking for him...'"
On the Victory of Pakistani Islamist Parties
Question: "How do you view the victory of the Pakistani Islamic parties?"
Hekmatyar: "This is a positive development. We consider this victory as a
positive development. Therefore, we are happy that the Pakistani people
have voted for the Islamic parties. The statement issued by the Afghan
Foreign Ministry, in which it expressed its concern about the success of
what it described as 'extremist parties,' does not represent the Afghan
Muslim people. Such statements are just an attempt to satisfy the United
States. It should be noted that the fall of the Taliban at the hands of
the Americans had weakened the morale of the believers. However, their
morale has risen after the resistance began. God willing, it will grow
even stronger after the defeat of the United States in Afghanistan."
"If the American Forces are Defeated in Afghanistan, the Islamic World
will be Safe"
Question: "What is your position regarding the American preparations to
Hekmatyar: "We make no distinction between the attack on Afghanistan and
the attack on Iraq. We said before that the fate of the Islamic world is
directly linked to the war on Afghanistan. If the United States succeeded,
God forbid, in this war and was able to achieve its goals, it would be
difficult then to have another resistance against the United States in any
other country. If it succeeds in Afghanistan, it will launch an all-out
war against all the states it described as 'the axis of evil' and 'the
rogue states.' But, if the American forces are defeated in Afghanistan,
the Islamic world will be safe and secure from Washington's evil and will
not dare to launch an attack on any other state. I would like to stress
that the resistance in Afghanistan has a greater chance to succeed than in
any other country. What is possible and available here is not possible in
another place. I am confident that if the Americans postponed the attack
on Iraq and did not carry it out in the coming months, they would face a
very bad situation in Afghanistan and would fall into a swamp from which
they would not be able to get out. Then, they would not initiate an attack
on any country."
The Clash of Civilizations has Begun and Will Continue
Question: "Do you think a 'clash of civilizations' has begun?"
Hekmatyar: "Yes, the war between the civilizations has indeed begun, and
this war will continue forever. I think that those who deny the existence
of this war and raise slogans for reconciliation, understanding and
dialogue between the civilizations are deceiving the world and themselves.
The slogans of reconciliation and cooperation are Western slogans. They
are being used to crush the resistance. The Western civilization has
launched a fierce war against the other civilizations. The Westerners are
calling on others to surrender... They want their civilization to be the
dominant one in the world. Otherwise, what does reconciliation mean at a
time when the West is launching its war against us? How can understanding
be reached when the United States has established military bases in many
Islamic countries and occupied the most important strategic points in the
world by force? When Bush declared his crusader war, the Italian Prime
Minister [Silvio Berlusconi] announced that he defeated communism and will
defeat Islam, and the German foreign minister stated that the West will
not accept the shari'a authority in Afghanistan. They are trying to impose
their way of life on the poor peoples."
Question: "Do you agree with Osama bin Ladin that the current war is a
Hekmatyar: "There is no doubt that this is a crusader war. What is
happening in Palestine, Afghanistan, Sudan and the possible war in Iraq
are all links in the chain of crusader wars declared by George Bush."