07 May 2017

Opium Lords Emerge during Soviet-Afghan War

Seeds of Terror by Gretchen Peters, 2009, Excerpts

Commander Mullah Akhundzada sought early on to establish independence through the opium trade. Akhundzada tapped into trafficking, opening an office in the Iranian town of Zaidan to manage his shipments west, earning him the nickname “King of Heroin.”

Such abundances caught the attention of Hekmatyar, a notoriously ruthless commander of the fundamentalist Hizb-i-Islami Party. Hekmatyar was effectively a creation of the ISI and operated mainly along the Pakistan border, investing in heroin labs along the border.  Heroin money and ISI assistance helped Hekmatyar transform his network from a fledgling militia into a centralized military organization.

American officials assisting the war effort grudgingly acknowledged Hekmatyar’s managerial prowess, but feared his brand of Islam and vicious thirst for power. He supported Saddam Hussein publicly. He was the deepest into drugs. He was killing modern Afghans and intellectuals and ordered his forces inside Afghanistan to kill Westerners.

Afghan warlord Hekmatyar returns to Kabul after peace deal
04 May 2017
Veteran warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has returned to the Afghan capital, eight months after signing a peace deal with the government. Mr Hekmatyar, an Islamist warlord accused of numerous atrocities, leads Hezb-e-Islami, the country's second largest militant group. Under the deal, he has agreed to accept the constitution and abandon violence. Mr Hekmatyar urged the Taliban to hold peace talks, saying: "Let's end the war, live together as brothers and then ask foreigners to leave our country." Mr Hekmatyar's return comes more than 20 years after the Taliban forced him from Kabul in 1996.

A former prime minister, he is one of the most controversial figures in Afghanistan's modern history. He was one of seven anti-Soviet faction chiefs who led a large number of mujahideen fighters in the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s. But he is remembered mostly for his role in the bloody civil war of the 1990s, when the Hezb-e-Islami clashed violently with other mujahideen factions in the struggle for control of Kabul. The Hezb-e-Islami was blamed for much of the terrible death and destruction of that period, which led many ordinary Afghans to welcome the emergence of the Taliban, he and his men were forced to flee Kabul when the Taliban swept into power. Hekmatyar was once known as the "Butcher of Kabul" - and was nicknamed "Rocketyar", in reference to the hundreds of rockets he rained down on Kabul in the country's civil war in the 1990s. Many in the city still haven't forgiven him.

Richard J. Kerr, Deputy Director of CIA , meeting with Hekmatyar in Islamabad in 1988.

Hekmatyar 2017

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