print
memri
January 2, 2003 No.
455

Interview With Afghan Islamist Leader 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 the occupiers."

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 the Americans?"

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 them."

Message to the U.S. Congress

Question: "Do you think that your recent message to the U.S. Congress produced results?"

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 Americans?"

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 country."

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 forces?"

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 attack Iraq?"

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 crusader war?"

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."


[1] Arabnews.com,December 26, 2002, http://www.arabnews.com/SArticle.asp?ID=21448&sct=Hekmatyar&

[2] Ibid.

[3]Al-Hayat, November 2, 2002.