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News ::
CIA trying it's best to get rid of old friends in Afghanistan
10 May 2002
The CIA fired a missile from an unmanned Predator spy plane Monday near the capital, Kabul, in hopes of killing Hekmatyar, U.S. defense officials said on condition of anonymity.

The Hellfire missile didn't get him but is believed to have killed some of his followers, officials said. Hekmatyar's whereabouts could not be learned Thursday.
WASHINGTON -- A former Afghan prime minister is believed to have escaped a CIA missile strike in the first known attempt to kill a factional leader suspected of plotting against the U.S.-backed government.

Though not known to be part of the Taliban or al-Qaida, Islamic leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was considered a fair target because he was threatening American troops and had offered rewards for their deaths, officials said Thursday.

"I can assure you when we go after individuals in the theater of war, it is because they intend to do some harm to America," President Bush said.

The CIA fired a missile from an unmanned Predator spy plane Monday near the capital, Kabul, in hopes of killing Hekmatyar, U.S. defense officials said on condition of anonymity.

The Hellfire missile didn't get him but is believed to have killed some of his followers, officials said. Hekmatyar's whereabouts could not be learned Thursday.

"Hekmatyar is somewhere in Afghanistan but we don't know in which area he is living," said Qutbuddin Hilal, a senior member of his hardline Hezb-e-Islami party living in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Hilal denied that the group was plotting an attack on Afghanistan's government, saying Hekmatyar supports interim leader Hamid Karzai.

But Pentagon officials said there was intelligence that Hekmatyar had been making plans to strike the Afghan government, perhaps Karzai himself, and American troops in Afghanistan.

In the shifting politics of Afghanistan, Hekmatyar is a former warlord, one-time prime minister, former recipient of American military aid and current leader of a hardline Islamic group. He is thought to maintain close ties with elements of Pakistani intelligence operating without the sanction of President Pervez Musharraf.

Hekmatyar was a major recipient of U.S. weapons and support during the war against Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And he is now described as virulently opposed to the U.S. role in Afghanistan -- or to the presence of any foreign army.

Hekmatyar has claimed he still has U.S.-made Stinger missiles and controls a loyal militia in his homeland that would be ready to follow him.

The Central Intelligence Agency has played a major role in the Afghan campaign, gathering intelligence and sending in its paramilitary to work with local tribal leaders who have mounted their armies against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The CIA also has operated Predators fitted with missiles -- making it the first war in which the U.S. government has used the drones to field weapons.

CIA officials declined comment Thursday on the missile strike.

Several weeks ago, Hekmatyar's son told a news conference in Peshawar that Hekmatyar wants elections as soon as possible because his Hezb-e-Islami party is very popular.

The party announced in early March that it had sent a delegation to meet with Karzai in Kabul to iron out differences. But in April, hundreds of people linked to the group were arrested in Kabul in an alleged overthrow plot. It included plans to set off bombs throughout the capital, officials said at the time.

Hekmatyar was a guerrilla commander in the 1980s fight against the Soviets and served as a prime minister in the fractious government that took power after routing of a pro-Soviet Afghan administration in 1992.

Ruthless power struggles between his forces and those of rivals laid waste to whole neighborhoods of the Afghan capital and killed tens of thousands. Hekmatyar fled to Iran after the Taliban took Kabul in 1996.

Hekmatyar called for jihad against the United States in November. Iranian authorities closed his offices there in February and ordered him out in a move that appeared a gesture toward the United States and Karzai.

Hekmatyar has been an opponent of both the Taliban and the anti-Taliban northern alliance. U.S. officials think he may be trying to form an alliance of convenience with remnants of Taliban or al-Qaida.

Hekmatyar, 52, is a Ghilzai Pashtun from Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. He speaks several languages, including English, has two wives and several children.

Also in April, Pashtun figures said they suspected Hekmatyar's group might be responsible for threatening leaflets found in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the traditional stronghold of former Taliban rulers.

The leaflets said parents who send their children to school will be killed and their homes burned down.

******************

Who is he?

http://www.afghanradio.com/news/2001/october/leaderProfile/hekmatyar.htm

Few Afghans would relish the return of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notoriously brutal, Pashtun Islamist hardliner who was once the darling of Pakistani intelligence and the CIA, but is best known for his destruction of Kabul.....
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Hekmatyar was well placed to tap the billions of dollars in arms and cash funnelled into Pakistan by the Arab states and the CIA for the mujahiden holy war.
But critics accused Hekmayar's forces of spending more time battling their supposed anti-Soviet allies, especially troops loyal to his ethnic Tajik rival, Ahmed Shah Masood.
He was blamed for the assassinations of several journalists and intellectuals who dared criticise him. His party ranks were swelled by Arab volunteers, including those loyal to Saudi-dissident Osama bin Laden who later found their way into Taliban ranks.
Very much the forerunner of the Taliban, Hekmatyar envisaged an Islamic state where women would be banned from work and education, and a puritanical brand of Wahabi Islam would be enforced."

snip...

See also:
http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-afghan-us-military0509may09.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dworld%2Dheadlines
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