‘Butcher of Kabul’ Vows Unconditional Support for Taliban 'Brothers'

‘Butcher of Kabul’ Vows Unconditional Support for Taliban 'Brothers'

Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also known as the “Butcher of Kabul,” on Tuesday promised unconditional support for the Taliban regime from his Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) party.

“We are brothers with the Taliban, and there is a consensus between us,” he said.

“We do not have any conditions to participate in the government other than the assignment of competent persons,” Hekmatyar said in an interview with Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

“We are not very willing to be a partner in the new government. [But] we support the Taliban in whatever way they form a government, unconditionally,” he said.

At an HIA gathering Tuesday, Hekmatyar congratulated the Taliban for conquering Afghanistan and driving Western forces out of the country in disarray.

“We all were waiting for this day that the U.S. and NATO will leave Afghanistan in deep embarrassment, with their heads down and broken,” he said.

Hekmatyar said on Tuesday that a top Taliban leader invited HIA to play a major role in the new Afghan government and encouraged it to participate in reconstruction and economic development. He said he told the Taliban it would have HIA’s total and unconditional support, no matter how many seats party members were given in the regime.

Hekmatyar, designated a global terrorist by the U.S. government in 2003, occasionally passed himself off as a mediator between the elected government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. At other times, he was a full-throated Taliban backer who longed for the return of the brutal theocracy.

“Let’s end the war, live together as brothers and then ask foreigners to leave our country,” Hekmatyar said at a 2017 ceremony hosted by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He urged the Taliban to negotiate with Ghani’s government and make peace so they could work together and “end all reasons for the presence of foreign troops.”

In 2020, he portrayed himself as the Taliban’s partner, declaring that if HIA and the Taliban joined forces, “the crisis in Afghanistan will end soon and no force will be able to stand against it.”

“When the first round of talks between Kabul and the Taliban is completed, we are ready for the Hezb-e-Islami and the Taliban to start talks. The decision now rests with the Taliban,” he said, touting his party’s “mutual beliefs, values, and ideology” and dismissing Ghani’s government as “weak and divided.”

Hekmatyar is a diehard Islamist, but otherwise a consummate opportunist. He fought against the Soviet invasion in the 80s as well as NATO forces after 2001. He claimed to have helped al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri escape from the U.S. airstrike on Tora Bora in December 2001. He signed a peace deal with the elected government in 2016 and supposedly hoped to run for president after the Taliban was incorporated into a new negotiated joint government.

Hekmatyar told the Anadolu Agency he expected the Taliban government to achieve international recognition, despite the Biden administration’s threats, once the global community accepts Taliban rule as “the will of the Afghans.”

Hekmatyar addressed one of the major international complaints by claiming neither the Islamic State nor al-Qaeda is a significant presence in Afghanistan, calling reports to the contrary “false propaganda.”

“Their numbers were very few in the past and even less today. It is impossible to consider them as a threat at all,” he said of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

In another interview on Wednesday, Hekmatyar told Turkey’s Daily Sabahhis party would welcome Turkey’s assistance for running the airport in Kabul.

“The airport needs to be secure so that ambassadors from abroad can come and work comfortably. Afghanistan does not have the capacity to provide that security. Therefore, we need the support of a foreign country. The best and most reliable country in this regard is Turkey. We also conveyed this to the Taliban,” he said.

Hekmatyar told Daily Sabah he saw the U.S. and NATO occupation as an extension of the Soviet invasion and expected Afghanistan to grow more secure under Taliban rule now that all foreign challengers have been vanquished.

“The ongoing war in Afghanistan was an imposed war. When they withdrew, these causes of war also disappeared. At the same time, there were those who had a special place in the old administration of which they were puppets. With the withdrawal, they took them with them. Afghanistan is now on its way to becoming a truly independent country,” he declared.

John Hayward