From The MEMRI Archives – Former Pakistani Spy Chief Hamid Gul: 'I Am An Ideologue Of Jihad'; 'Jihad Is Our Right'; 'If Necessary, India's Dams Will Be Blown Up'; 'As Muslims, We Are Militant by Nature'

September 10, 2015

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul (1936-2015), who died August 15, 2015, served as chief of the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1987 to 1989. Towards the late 1980s, as ISI chief, Gul supervised the Afghan jihad, which led to the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

During the 1980s, both the CIA and ISI worked together against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Although Gul's tenure ended in 1989, it is believed that he continued to work in an informal capacity with the ISI, especially in planning the organization's jihad against India in Kashmir and Afghanistan. As the reports below show, Hamid Gul was an advocate of jihad, and argued that Muslims are militant by nature.

After his death, Pakistani security analyst Mohammad Taqi wrote: "[Gul] was perhaps the most vocal Pakistani jihadist general after his former boss [and military dictator] General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, with whom he shared his Islamist zealotry and now shares the month of death... General Gul epitomized everything that is wrong – or right, depending on which side of a suicide bomber's vest one's loved ones are on – with using jihadist terrorism as a tool of foreign policy."[1]

Elsewhere, Taqi wrote: "In his day, the late general had virtually turned Pakistan into a jihadist Noah's Ark, with assorted mercenary fanatics arriving in droves and unleashing havoc in Afghanistan... "Gul was the military equivalent of Osama bin Laden, who died with his boots on and the blood of the innocents on his hands. One must never speak ill of the dead; it is the jihadist life and legacy of General Hamid Gul, however, which is impossible to ignore if further bloodshed and mayhem in Pakistan and the region is to be averted."[2]

As the reports below show, at one point American officials classified the ISI as a terrorist organization due to its support of the Taliban and other jihadist organizations.

Following are excerpts from a series of reports on and interviews with Hamid Gul published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in recent years.

Hamid Gul was considered the architect of the Pakistan-backed jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir (Source:

2010 Gul Interview: "The Americans Are More And More Inclined – Because The U.S. Military Cannot Sustain Its Casualties – To Employ Mercenaries"; "As Far As Al-Qaeda Is Concerned, I Simply Say: Come Up With The Evidence For 9/11"

Q: "You recently said, 'The Taliban is Afghanistan's future, the Americans its past.' Isn't that a little farfetched?"

Hamid Gul: "The Americans are defeated. It isn't necessarily because their firepower and their might has been weakened, but because their own people are sick and tired [of the war in Afghanistan]. Now... they are threatened by fatigue, and fatigue is the worst thing a nation can suffer from. There is no way that the Americans can hold on to Afghanistan.

"The U.S. is a heavily indebted nation, so how will they be able to afford this? Some 57 percent of Americans say in the polls that they don't approve of this war and want their boys to return home. The Americans can't sustain their casualties; that is their problem. To compensate, they have started employing security contractors. There are currently some 104,000 security contractors in Afghanistan. What does this mean? Can mercenaries be used where troops cannot be deployed?

"We have already seen what mercenaries did in Iraq. The Americans are more and more inclined – because the U.S. military cannot sustain its casualties – to employ mercenaries, not just from the U.S., but also from the local population. This is a very dangerous trend, if we are to believe that mercenaries can win wars and carry forward the political objectives of a country. This means that whoever has more money can employ more mercenaries, win wars, win territories, etc."

Q: "In recent years, U.S. officials have accused you of having close ties with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. How do you respond to this?"

Hamid Gul: "No, this is false, I have no such ties. As far as Al-Qaeda is concerned, I simply say: Come up with the evidence for 9/11. You haven't even charged Osama bin Laden so far, which means you don't have hard evidence against him. The full story is yet to come out. In my opinion, all this is a gimmick, an inside job.

"In regard to the Taliban, I support their cause of Afghan resistance. I lend them my moral support because I have in the past had strong connections with them. Incidentally, I maintained strong connections with both sides. Many in the Afghan government are my good friends..."

Q: "But [President Asif] Zardari once told a Western journal that you are a 'political ideologue of terror.'"

A: "I wrote a letter to Zardari [saying] that I am an ideologue of jihad, which we share in common. He is a Muslim like myself and believes in the Holy Koran. Terror is a totally different thing. I do not support terror at all, but jihad is our right when a nation is oppressed. According to the United Nations Charter, national resistance for liberation is a right. We call this jihad."

"It's Very Difficult to Say [Whether ISI Supports Militant Groups]... Maybe in Some Cases, Individual Cases"; "After Obama's December 1st Speech [2009], It's Become Clear That the Taliban Are Afghanistan's Future, And the Americans Its Past"

[Asked about the international community's concern over the ISI's involvement with militant organizations, and whether it is "clean in 2010," the former ISI chief said]: "Well, it's very difficult to say... Maybe in some cases, individual cases – I won't say as a matter of policy – they may be doing things, which does happen, because, after all, a nation's attitudes change slowly, like the smooth curve of a railway track. But when you want to take a U-turn, some cars will get derailed. We have seen the tribesmen falling against the Pakistan Army and we have suffered a lot of casualties...

"After [U.S. President Barack] Obama's December 1 speech [in 2009, at West Point, in which he announced a U.S. troop surge as well as plans to leave Afghanistan], it's become clear that the  Taliban are Afghanistan's future, and the Americans its past...

"A big question [is] whether it is in the interest of Pakistan that America and particularly India... win, and stay permanently in Afghanistan. Would that be in the long-term interest of Pakistan? Pakistan seems to be sandwiched on both sides, and the Indian front is very active. Indian generals are sending out threats to Pakistan daily. So then we have India, the Mossad, all the hostile forces on our back, which are the umbrella of America... They are fully involved in Baluchistan; they want to cut Pakistan [down] to size [i.e. disband it].

"[Q: Does the ISI operate without the Pakistani government's approval? A:] On the small scale, I would say yes, but at the policy level no... Generally, what the Western press has been writing is that the ISI is reluctant to act against some of the Taliban groups in Afghanistan. If that is so, one can understand it... The Americans came from 12,000 km away, and they are in Afghanistan now. They say they will go away, but the Taliban will remain there..."[3]

2011 Gul Interview: "I Had A Detailed Meeting With [Afghan Taliban Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani]; I Said That The Sharia System Would Be Implemented In Afghanistan"; "The U.S. Wants Indian Supremacy In Afghanistan"

Q: "Were Americans going to hold talks with the Haqqani Network?"

Hamid Gul: "The U.S. always wants to divide the Taliban. [Jalaluddin] Haqqani had taken an oath of allegiance on the hands of Mullah Omar; the Haqqani Network is not independent... Jalaluddin Haqqani cannot hold any dialogue on his own, and he will not do so. They tried to hold talks with [Hizb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar. [Afghan government representatives in 2011] Arsalan Rahmani and Burhanuddin Rabbani started this process, but when Rabbani came to visit me I told him that the path they are taking will not make headway...

"The U.S. is putting the condition [that the Talban] accept the constitution. How will they accept the constitution prepared by an occupying nation? I had a detailed meeting with him [Jalaluddin Haqqani]. I said that the Sharia system would be implemented in Afghanistan in any case. The Americans think that some solution might come out. Many of their spies come to me disguised as American journalists; when I say that the Taliban would not agree to any system other than the Sharia, those Americans say that the Sharia system will not be acceptable to them. Then my answer to them is: stay 20 more years in Afghanistan because Sharia would surely be implemented in Afghanistan. The situation will change when the occupation's U.S. forces' first contingent leaves Afghanistan..."

Q: "[The Pakistani military] says that they are under both internal and external pressure [to act against the militants]. Which pressure should be accepted...?"

Hamid Gul: "My suggestion is that we should talk by standing up with full confidence and tell the Americans that this will not go anymore. They neither fund our... [military operations] nor do they share intelligence in accordance with their promise; instead, they hold us responsible [for not acting against militants]. Therefore, if we stand up, the U.S. will retreat. It needs Pakistan very much and it cannot do without Pakistan.

"It is good if Pakistan is not involved in the talks [with the Taliban] because the goals that the U.S. wants to achieve are not in Pakistan's interest. The U.S. wants Indian supremacy in Afghanistan; that is why the U.S. has put Afghanistan in South Asia, removing it from West Asia [i.e. the Middle East on the world map]. The second condition is that Pakistan and Afghanistan should accept Israel... Then a coalition government could be established and then the constitution prepared by the U.S. could be accepted, and permanent bases for the U.S. could be established [in Afghanistan]. These are all impossible."[4]

2011 Gul Interview: U.S. Govt. Reports Said That "The Real Threat To American Influence In The Coming Decades Will Be From Muslims And China"; "The U.S. ... Asked India To Provide Weapons To Tehreek-e-Taliban; They Are... Responsible for Destabilizing Karachi"

Q: "Now, a decade after the terrible events of 9/11, what is the security situation in the region? Do you think Pakistan and Afghanistan are safer than they were before? Is America safer?"

Hamid Gul: "Firstly, we must understand that 9/11 was basically a pretext for the Americans to establish a permanent presence in Afghanistan, as this is a central strategic location. From here, the Americans can contain China, control the Middle East and South Asia, and keep an eye on Central Asia. Pakistan represents their central target. I could put forward a lot of arguments of a technical nature to the effect that 9/11 was an inside job. I could go into detail, but this will divert from the subject of your interview.

"There have been internal reports issued by the U.S. administration that the real threat to American influence in the coming decades will be from Muslims and China. The Russians killed 1.3 million Afghans; however so far the Americans have only killed 50,000 Afghans. Historians are in agreement that America is a declining power... In my opinion, the Americans have now lost in the [Afghan] battlefield."

Q: "Do you believe that the Pakistani government and military will be able to stabilize Pakistan in the event that U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan?"

A: "Yes, Pakistan can definitely stabilize itself. [In fact] U.S. influence has been a destabilizing factor. Look at Karachi, for example; who is responsible for the massacre in Karachi? The U.S. divided the Pakistani nation and has asked India to provide weapons to Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan. They are the ones responsible for destabilizing Karachi. In addition to this, India is fragmenting. Take it from me, their democracy is falling apart and voices of revolution are coming out of India.

"An alternative to the democratic system has to emerge, and that can come from Islamic sources. Religion is a very powerful sentiment. Islam is even more powerful because it is in a resurgent state. It is a comprehensive system; that is why it is so dominant. Therefore Pakistan can emerge as a model on three issues; religion, nationalism, and democracy. This is because we are constitutionally committed to all these dominant trends of the 21st century. The combination of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with China at their back, will be too powerful a bloc [against the U.S. and India]. This represents a potential emerging giant in the world, not through territorial expansions, but by acting as a role model."

"China Will Be The Biggest Beneficiary When U.S. Troops Leave The Region; On The Other Hand, Islamic Forces Are Also Moving To Confront India"; "Al-Qaeda Trapped The Americans In Afghanistan"

Q: "You have always been a strong critic of U.S. military presence in the region. If the U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan on schedule in 2014, how will this impact the regional security situation?"

A: "China will become an economic superpower without firing a single bullet. China will be the biggest beneficiary when U.S. troops leave the region. This will mean that China will emerge as the most important power in the region, particularly as China enjoys naturally strong relations with Pakistan. As far as India is concerned, I have always said that India is on the wrong side of history."

Q: "However isn't India also an emerging economic power?"

A: "No, it is not. Their economic strength is false. In India, 300 million people have joined the middle class and they are enjoying urban elite status, but this does not mean that the 900 million deprived Indians will not rise up one day. There is the so-called 'red corridor' in India where Maoist movements are present. On the other hand, Islamic forces are also moving to confront India. India was with the capitalist forces in this war against Islamic forces, and the Islamic forces are winning.

"As for China, it is not merely an economic power; it is also a strategic ally of Pakistan. Recently China has taken very strong positions in support of Pakistan and has criticized India. In the wake of the Abbottabad operation (that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden), the Chinese [also] took a strong position in support of Pakistan."

Q: "Will the attempts for reconciliation [with Taliban] in Afghanistan succeed?"

A: "The Americans are working towards the Taliban joining the coalition government. I think it is impossible. The Americans want the Taliban to distance themselves from Al-Qaeda; however that is a misconception. Al-Qaeda has a different objective from the Taliban. Al-Qaeda trapped the Americans in Afghanistan and now they have shifted their interest to the Middle East. A broad-based government in Afghanistan is a possibility only after the U.S. withdraws from the country."[5]

2012 Report Quoting Gul: "I Said From Day One That It Is A Crusade War; Americans Are Fighting It As A Religious War"; "Americans Have Become Fanatic Against Islam And Are Not Ready To Tolerate Even Our Koran, Kaaba, And Medina"

"And now, when the Pentagon has accepted that it does have a Muslim-genocide plan, military [affairs] intellectual and head of Difa-e-Pakistan General Hamid Gul, speaking to Ummat, stated:

"'I said from day one that it is a Crusade war. Americans are fighting it as a religious war but our viewpoint was not taken seriously. The Muslims who were considering it as a reaction to a Muslim action should now take cognizance of how the Americans have become fanatic against Islam and are not ready to tolerate [the existence of] even our Koran, Kaaba and Medina.

"'I understand that after the U.S. confirmation, there remains no justification that Muslim countries should remain silent. All the Muslim countries should protest against it by calling the U.S. ambassadors in their countries. And Pakistan is the worst victim country of this war; [so] it should convene an OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference] summit to take notice of it and talk to the U.S. in strong words.

"'This is our right. We should speak out on it. It is like suicide if we remained silent when they are denying our existence itself. And those who are American supporters, it is better for them that they should go to the U.S. now.'"[6]

2010 Documents Exposed By WikiLeaks: "I Consider American And NATO Forces As Aggressors... And Believe That The [Taliban-Led] Afghan National Resistance Is Fully Justified"

"Responding to the accusations in the WikiLeaks documents about his involvement with the militants, former Pakistani spy chief Hamid Gul told the Al-Jazeera television channel that the charges are a 'pack of lies.' The website of Al-Jazeera, which posted a video of Hamid Gul, quoted him as saying:

"'I have no involvement whatsoever... I'm not involved because I have no means and no wherewithal. This is absolutely, utterly wrong...'

"Gul stated that the U.S. sees him as a 'convenient whipping-boy,' and added: 'They took my case to have me declared an international terrorist to the UN sanctions committee and it was vetoed, or placed a technical hold upon by the Chinese, because they could not produce any evidence...

"'I consider American and NATO forces as aggressors – in pursuit of a vicious agenda for the region, especially Pakistan, and believe that the Afghan national resistance is fully justified...'"

"Although The Declaration Of India As Most Favored Nation (MFN) Is From A Business Point Of View, We Are Not Only Empowering The Killing Hands [Of India], Which Is After Our Lifeline, But We Are Also Providing Them With A Dagger"

In 2011, the Pakistani government was contemplating granting Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India, which had already granted MFN status to Pakistan, as required under the rules of international trade. Hamid Gul wrote:[7]

"There is so much love for India in the houses of power that no one is bothered about the future of the country... The irony is that not only are the opposition and the claimant of the new leadership supporting the whole process silently, but that the religious leadership is also silent. The leader of Kashmiri freedom movement, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, is forced to ask with much pain about 'what the Pakistani community is doing' and 'where are people's representative parties?'

"Although the declaration of India as most favored nation (MFN) is from a business point of view, we are not only empowering the killing hands, which is after our lifeline, but we are also providing them with a dagger. Pervez Musharraf has sold out this nation's present, but this government is also selling out its future.... and for cheap; our rulers' past and present are filled with betrayals. But giving India the MFN status is the biggest and most historical betrayal to date – it not only puts in question to the basic theory [that India and Pakistan are separate nations], but is also a long jump towards Akhand Bharat [undivided India].

"The question is: Why such haste? Why are they so impatient? The answer would be found in the statements during Hillary Clinton's last tour of Pakistan, that they 'would not tolerate any delay; steps should be taken not in months or weeks, but in days.' Our rulers, in fact, provided the favorite U.S. results in 'weeks and days.'

"There is no doubt that conferring upon India the status of MFN was necessary more for the U.S. than for India. It was a U.S. demand. This is related to the American defeat in Afghanistan and also to the future ambitions of the U.S. in South Asia. As [U.S. President Barack] Obama has himself said, 'Asia would be the first priority of the U.S.'"[8]

2006 TV Interview: "That American Actor, Mel Gibson, Said That The Jews Caused All The Wars... The Jews Have Always Caused The Wars; Mecca Was Only Conquered After The Destruction Of Khaybar"; "Our Basic War Is Against... The So-Called State Of Israel"

Hamid Gul: "From Ben Gurion to Netanyahu, every Israeli leader has said that Pakistan is their number one enemy.

"Pakistan was established in accordance with the ideology of Al-Madina. This is a widely accepted ideology and theory, because all other ideologies are false. These Israelis know this. When Al-Madina was established, it was established next to [the Jewish city of] Khaybar. Of course, as long as Khaybar was not destroyed, Islam did not spread.

"When Mel Gibson, in one of his movies, played a role that was anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish, the Jews claimed that he was an antisemite. That American actor, Mel Gibson, said that the Jews caused all the wars. Now he is being sued. Therefore, all the wars, World War I and II, and others... Even at the advent of Islam, the Jews would incite the polytheists against the Islamic state in Al-Madina.

"The Jews have always caused the wars. Mecca was only conquered after the destruction of Khaybar. Mecca was not captured in battle. This indicates that the war was not against the polytheists. Even today, our war is not against America or Europe. Our basic war is against Israel, or the so-called State of Israel. When Pakistan was established, so was India, but we didn't know that the Jews... [Their state] was established along with ours. It is our main enemy. Pakistan was established in 1947 and Israel was established in 1948. It is either us or them. We cannot live together."[9]

Gul At 2008 Conference: "The [Pakistani] Nation Needs To Be Determined; If Necessary, India's Dams Will Be Blown Up"; "Two States Came Into Existence In 1947 And 1948: One, Pakistan; Two, Israel; The Two Are Threats To Each Other; Ultimately, Only One Of Them Will Survive"

"At a seminar organized by the Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation in April 2008 titled 'Water Crisis – Challenges Faced by the Nation and Their Solutions,' [senior Pakistani editor] Majeed Nizami went to the extent of declaring that 'the Hindus [of India] had decided to make Pakistan barren even before 1947,' i.e. before Pakistan was created. Presiding over the seminar was Gen. (ret) Hamid Gul, former ISI chief, who addressed the Indian dams on rivers from Jammu & Kashmir by warning: 'The nation needs to be determined. If necessary, India's dams will be blown up.' Though the subject of the seminar was water crisis in Pakistan, Gul went on to add: 'Two states came into existence in 1947 and 1948: one, Pakistan; two, Israel. The two are threats to each other. Ultimately, only one of them will survive.... Pakistan can be saved by making a role model of the Prophet [Muhammad].'

"Alluding to Samuel P. Huntington's clash-of-civilizations thesis, Gul went on to note: 'At this point, the matter is not of a war between civilizations, but that of a clash between systems. Islam is a humanity-loving religion. The West is fighting the last battle for its survival.' [Pakistani activist] Hafiz Zahoorul Hassan Dahir too has repeatedly accused India of working 'in cooperation with the Jewish lobby' on its power projects on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers in order to stifle the Pakistani economy. In an article, Dahir accused India of working on a 'mega plan of water aggression against Pakistan,' observing that 'the practical objective of this plan is to ensure that Pakistan is reduced to being a colony of India... A consortium has been set up in cooperation with the Jewish lobby, three other nations, two multinational firms, one trans-national NGO, secret agencies of three countries, including the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) of India, are involved.' [65] In another public statement, Dahir said that 'with the cooperation of the Jewish lobby, India has opened a battlefront of water war aimed at making Pakistan’s fertile lands barren.'

"In an editorial concerning the water issues, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Ausaf also attacked Israel. Accusing the Pakistani government of not developing a counter-strategy to confront India's 'dangerous ambitions,' the article alluded to external supporters of India's anti-Pakistani policy, claiming that, 'India was given easy rides which helped it complete most work on Baglihar dam.' The Roznama Ausaf editorial added that 'with the aid of Israel, India also managed to build a fence on the working boundary and on the Line of Control [in Kashmir]. It was with Israeli help that India installed sensitive equipment on the working boundary and Line of Control to monitor the movement of Kashmiri freedom fighters.'"[10]

2011 Report On WikiLeaks Cables: "From General Hamid Gul to General Mahmud, The ISI Has Been Led By A Number Of Chiefs Who Thought Differently From The Ordinary Pakistani [vis-à-vis] Al-Qaeda [- i.e. As A Friend]"

"Another spurt of WikiLeaks and we have a reconfirmation of much of what has been already revealed. We are living in far more open times since the original leaks last year, and consequently the mutual suspicion with which the ISI and the U.S. have eyed each other has been quite well documented in the media. This new wave of leaks would have been significant even without the generous nuggets of information the public has been served in recent weeks with regard to the uneasy, in fact tense, relationship between the U.S. and the [Pakistani] spy agency."

"Bits and pieces of evidence had been piling up in the past, including facts in the latest indictment of two Pakistani American nationals, David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, at a Chicago court, along with four Pakistanis in Pakistan (one linked to the army) involved in 'pre-operation' spying in Mumbai before the 2008 terrorist attack. The Americans have never minced words over their finding that Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was involved in the attack. They have consistently demanded the banning of the successor outfit, Jamaatud Dawa [the charity arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba]. Pakistan has resisted the ban and Interior Minister Rehman Malik has admitted that the prosecution of the LeT men being tried in Pakistani 'has been slow.'

"From General Hamid Gul to General Mahmud, the ISI has been led by a number of chiefs who thought differently from the ordinary Pakistani [vis-à-vis] Al-Qaeda [i.e. as a friend]. The chiefs of the ISI who were not of the same mold, too, have not seen eye-to-eye with America because of a mismatch of policies over India. Secular chiefs such as [former Pakistan Army chief] Aslam Beg and those seen by many to be sympathetic to the cause of the militants, such as Hamid Gul – both types have always cautioned the Pakistani nation against being friendly with America.

"Just as the Americans equate ISI with Hamas, Pakistani officials have often accused the CIA of working in tandem with the Mossad and RAW. What has been a covert spy war under the garb of friendship now threatens to come out into the open. No one in Pakistan is going to offend the ISI. The opinion is going to be overwhelmingly in favor of cutting off ties with America. But if any rogue elements are involved with the militants, they must be stopped by the government or the military."[11]


[1], August 23, 2015.

[2] Mohammad Taqi, General Hamid Gul: The Bin Laden In Boots,, August 23, 2015.


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