Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin
The Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, also referred to as Hezb-e-Islami or Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan, is an Afghan political party and former militia, founded and led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Since 1979, when Mulavi Younas Khalis made a split with Hekmatyar and established his own group, the remaining part of Hezb-e Islami, still headed by Hekmatyar, was known as 'Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin' or HIG.
During the Soviet–Afghan War, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin was well-financed by anti-Soviet forces through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. In the mid-1990s, the HIG was "sidelined from Afghan politics" by the rise of the Taliban.
In the post-2001 war in Afghanistan, HIG "reemerged as an aggressive militant group, claiming responsibility for many bloody attacks against Coalition forces and the administration of President Hamid Karzai". Its fighting strength was "sometimes estimated to number in the thousands". The group signed a peace deal with the Ghani administration in 2016.
Background: split-up Hezb-e-IslamiThe original Hezb-e-Islami was founded in 1975 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
In 1979, Mulavi Younas Khalis made a split with Hekmatyar and established his own group, which became known as the Khalis faction, with its power base in Nangarhar. The remaining part of Hezb-e Islami, still headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was since then also known as 'Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin' or HIG.
War against Soviet invasionDuring the Soviet–Afghan War, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin was well-financed by anti-Soviet forces, through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. Since 1981 or 1985, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin formed a part of the Peshawar Seven alliance of Sunni Mujaheddin forces fighting the Soviet invasion.
Hekmatyar and his party operated near the Pakistani border against Soviet Communists. Areas such as Kunar, Laghman, Jalalabad, and Paktia were Hezb-e Islami's strongholds. The party is highly centralized under Hekmatyar's command and until 1994 had close relations with Pakistan.
Despite its ample funding, it has been described as having
Civil war (1992–2001)In April 1992, Hezbi Islami was involved in the outbreak of civil war in Afghanistan.
The bombardment of the capital Kabul by Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan in 1994 is reported to have "resulted in the deaths of more than 25,000 civilians." Frustrated by that continued destructive warlord feuding in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence abandoned HIG for the Taliban in 1994.
After HIG was expelled from Kabul by the Taliban in September 1996, many of its local commanders joined the Taliban, "both out of ideological sympathy and for reason of tribal solidarity." In Pakistan Hezb-e-Islami training camps "were taken over by the Taliban and handed over" to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam groups such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.
After 2001The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism reports that, having lost Saudi support when it supported Saddam Hussein and Pakistani support after 1994, "the remainder of Hizb-i Islami merged into al-Qaeda and the Taliban." The Jamestown Foundation describes it having been "sidelined from Afghan politics" for a decade or so after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. Hekmatyar opposed the 2001 American intervention in Afghanistan, and since then has aligned his group with remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the current Afghan government.
Radio Free Europe reports that "in 2006, Hekmatyar appeared in a video aired on the Arabic language Al-Jazeera television station and declared he wanted his forces to fight alongside Al-Qaeda." According to Le Monde newspaper, as of 2007, the group was active around Mazari Sharif and Jalalabad. HIG took credit for a 2008 attack on a military parade that nearly killed Karzai, an August 2008 ambush near Kabul that left ten French soldiers dead, and an October 3, 2009 attack by 150 insurgents that overwhelmed a remote outpost in Nuristan Province, killing eight American soldiers and wounding 24.
There have also been reports of clashes between members of the HIG and Taliban, and defection of HIG members to the Afghan government. Ten members of the group's "senior leadership" met in May 2004 with President Hamid Karzai and "publicly announced their rejection of Hezb-e-Islami’s alliance with al-Qaeda and the Taliban." Prior to Afghanistan's 2004 elections, 150 members of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin party were said to have defected to Hamid Karzai's administration. Jamestown Foundation reported in 2004 that, according to Deputy Speaker of Parliament Sardar Rahmanoglu, HIA members "occupy around 30 to 40 percent of government offices, from cabinet ministers to provisional and other government posts." According to journalist Michael Crowley, as of 2010, HIG’s political arm holds 19 of 246 seats in the Afghan parliament and "claims not to take cues from Hekmatyar, though few believe it."
In early March 2010, elements of the Taliban and the HIG were reportedly fighting in Baghlan province.
Scores of Hizb-e-Islami militants, including 11 commanders and 68 fighters, defected on Sunday and joined the Afghan government as a clash between the group and the Taliban left 79 people dead, police said.
Peace negotiations 2010–2016On the celebration of Nowruz, New Year's Day, of 1389 Harun Zarghun, chief spokesman for Hizb-i-Islami, said that a five-member delegation was in Kabul to meet with government officials and that there were also plans to meet with Taliban leaders somewhere in Afghanistan. Khalid Farooqi, a member of the parliament from Paktika province, confirmed that two delegations from Hizb-i-Islami had shown up. Zarghun, the group's spokesman in Pakistan, said that the delegation had a 15-point plan that called for the retreat of foreign forces in July 2010 – a full year ahead of President Barack Obama's intended withdrawal. The plan also called for the replacement of the current Afghan parliament in December 2010 by an interim government, or shura, which then would hold local and national elections within a year. Zarghun said that a new Afghan constitution would be written, merging the current version with ones used earlier.
The same day, Afghanistan's vice-president Mohammad Qasim Fahim reached out to militants at the Nowruz New Year celebrations in Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan. He declared that, with their input, a coming national conference would lay the foundations for peace. He called on resistance forces to participate in a jirga, or assembly, planned for late April or early May.
In late January 2012, America's special envoy to the region Marc Grossman talked peace and reconciliation with Hamid Karzai in Kabul, though the Afghan president made it clear that Afghans should be in the driver's seat; hours before the meeting, Karzai said he personally held peace talks recently with the insurgent faction Hizb-i-Islami, appearing to assert his own role in a U.S.-led bid for negotiations to end the country's decade-long war.
In July 2015, Afghan media outlets reported that Hekmatyar had called on followers of Hezb-e Islami to support the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the fight against the Taliban. Reuters quoted a spokesman for Hizb-i-Islami as denying this, and calling the earlier reports a fake.
Alleged ties to North KoreaAccording to a document dump in the summer of 2010, a Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin member, along with an agent of Osama Bin Laden, allegedly took a trip on November 19, 2005 to North Korea via Iran. Here is the exact text of the intelligence report:
Although a rocket attack reported to have happened in 2007, killing all on board and destroying the vehicle, fit the characteristics of the mentioned North Korean rocket, the report remains unverified. No such Dr. Amin has surfaced of late.
2016 peace dealOn 22 September 2016, the government of Afghanistan signed a draft peace deal with Hezb-i-Islami. According to the draft agreement, Hezb-i-Islami agreed to cease hostilities, cut ties to extremist groups and respect the Afghan Constitution, in exchange for government recognition of the group and support for the removal of United Nations and American sanctions against Hekmatyar, who was also promised an honorary post in the government.
The agreement was formalised on 29 September with both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Hekmatyar who appeared via a video link into the presidential palace, signing the agreement. The Afghan government formally requested UN in December 2016 for removal of sanctions against the group's leaders. The sanctions against Hekmatyar were lifted by the UN on 3 February 2017.
On June 14, 2018, 180 individuals tied to Hezbi Islami were released from prison. Peace negotiator Ghairat Baheer addressed the men, on their release, telling them the party expected them to be peaceful, law-abiding citizens. Tolo News reported that this was the fourth release of individuals tied to Hezbi Islami, and it brought the total number of released men to 500.
Accused combatant prisoners at GuantanamoDozens of inmates at the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay faced allegations that they had been associated with the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.
Originally the Bush Presidency asserted it was not obliged to let any captives apprehended in Afghanistan know why they were being held, or to provide a venue where they could challenge the allegations against them. However, the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Rasul v. Bush required the institution of a review. The Supreme Court recommended the reviews be modeled after the Army Regulation 190-8 Tribunals that were ordinarily used to determine whether captives were innocent civilians who should be released, lawful combatants entitled to Prisoner of War status, or war criminals who could be tried, and who weren't protected by all the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
The Department of Defense set up the Office for the Administrative Review of Detained Enemy Combatants. OARDEC administered an initial Combatant Status Review Tribunal for the 558 Guantanamo captives who were still in the detention camp as of August 2004. Unlike the AR 190-8 Tribunals, the Combatant Status Review Tribunals were not authorized to determine whether captives were entitled to POW status, only whether they were "enemy combatants. OARDEC also administered annual Administrative Review Board hearings. The Boards were only authorized to make a recommendation as to whether captives might represent an ongoing threat, or might continue to hold intelligence value, and therefore should continue to be held in US custody.
Close to 10,000 pages of documents from the Combatant Status Review Tribunals and Administrative Review Board hearings were released after contested Freedom of Information Act requests.
Dozens of captives faced allegations that they had been associated with the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Some of the documents just alleged that a captive was associated with Hezb-e-Islami, without explaining why this implied they were an "enemy combatant". Other documents did provide brief explanations as how an association with Hezb-e-Islami implied a captive was an "enemy combatant". Neither Hezb-e-Islami nor Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin are on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and they never have been; but Gulbuddin is on the additional list called "Groups of Concern."