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Faces of Pakistan’s Militant Leaders

In-Depth Profiles of Major Militant Commanders

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These militant commanders in Pakistan are often collectively referred to as “Taliban”—a label many militants embrace as the jihadi brand of choice—but these groups possess varied origins, motivations, tactics, and leadership. These profiles, compiled from available open source reporting in Pakistani media, international press sources, and third-party analyses, offer a closer look at some of those complexities. Read about them in more detail below.

See also: Interactive Map: Leaders of Pakistan’s Militant Groups

Militant commanders

Baitullah Mehsud
Maulvi Nazir
Hafiz Gul Bahadur
Hakimullah Mehsud
Faqir Mohammad
Omar Khalid
Maulana Fazlullah
Maulana Sufi Mohammad
Qari Zainuddin Mehsud
Haji Turkistan Bhittani
Mangal Bagh
Haji Namdar
Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Baitullah Mehsud

Baitullah Mehsud

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan, TTP); Shura Ittehad-ul Mujahadeen (United Council of Mujahideen)

Forces: Estimates range from 12,000 to 20,000 fighters in South Waziristan, allegedly including foreign fighters from Uzbekistan and Chechnya. He also receives the loyalty of commanders in multiple Federally Administered Tribal Area agencies as chief of the umbrella TTP organization.

Location: South Waziristan Agency, FATA

Description: Baitullah Mehsud is head of the umbrella Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan organization. He has been linked by Pakistani and American intelligence officials to major high-profile attacks on the Pakistani government and security services, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and dozens of suicide bombings.

Lacking formal religious or secular education, Mehsud reportedly left his madrassa schooling to fight in Afghanistan for the Taliban in the 1990s. He joined militant leader Nek Mohammad Wazir and fellow tribesman Abdullah Mehsud (no direct relation) in carrying out attacks against U.S. forces following the 2001 invasion of that country.

Pakistani officials signed a peace agreement with the Mehsuds in February 2005, which Baitullah used to consolidate control over South Waziristan. He was able to gain further strength after the deaths of Nek Mohammad in a June 2004 missile strike and Abdullah Mehsud in a July 2007 raid by Pakistani security services. His forces resumed regular attacks on Pakistani security services following the July 2007 siege of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. These actions led to clashes with neighboring commanders Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who formed the Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement) to counterbalance Mehsud’s growing influence.

Mehsud is credited with ordering the deaths of hundreds of tribal leaders and rival commanders, including Haji Namdar of Khyber Agency and Qari Zainuddin Mehsud, a cousin to Abdullah. He was able to successfully transcend tribal boundaries and secure the allegiance of several commanders across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas—alliances which were formalized in December 2007 when a shura council affirmed him as leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan umbrella organization.

Mehsud is widely reported to have strong links to Al Qaeda and other foreign militants, including Uzbek and Chechen fighters. He has publicly pledged allegiance to the Afghan Taliban’s Mullah Omar, but the exact degree of coordination between them is unclear, and Omar has issued at least one statement disavowing links to Mehsud, citing his continued attacks on Pakistanis. Mehsud agreed to another ceasefire with the government in April 2008, but this too broke down. He was able to put aside differences with Nazir and Bahadur in February 2009 to form the Shura Ittehadu-ul Mujahadeen (United Council of Mujahadeen), which again pledged to refocus efforts on international forces in Afghanistan. Yet his continued clashes with security services and use of suicide bombing tactics led the Pakistani military to launch renewed military operations against Mehsud’s forces in late June 2009, whose outcome remains unclear.

Maulvi Nazir

Maulvi Nazir

Affiliation: Shura Ittehad-ul Mujahideen (United Council of Mujahideen); Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT)

Forces: Believed to command approximately 3,000 fighters.

Location: South Waziristan Agency, FATA

Description: Maulvi Nazir is a Pakistani Taliban commander with a base in the city of Wana, South Waziristan. He is a member of the Ahmedzai subtribe of the Wazir tribe. He may have received previous military training with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami and is believed to have hosted Al Qaeda fighters in South Waziristan following the fall of the Taliban regime. He retains ties to the Haqqani network.

Nazir signed a peace agreement with the Pakistani military in 2007. Since then, he has clashed with Uzbek and other Central Asian fighters, who he accused of assassinating tribal elders and robbing locals. Those foreigners are believed to have subsequently received shelter with Baitullah Mehsud, sparking a rivalry between the two commanders.

Nazir joined with fellow Wazir tribesman Hafiz Gul Bahadar in 2008 to create the Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT) as a distinct group from Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and was believed to have received covert Pakistani government support for keeping his attacks directed at American forces in Afghanistan rather than against the Pakistani state. Nazir was reportedly wounded in an American Predator drone strike in October 2008, and a spokesman threatened to carry out attacks against the Pakistani military and major cities if such attacks were not halted—threats Nazir’s followers reiterated in the spring of 2009.

Nazir formed the Shura Ittehad-ul Mujahideen (United Council of Mujahideen) with Gul Bahadar and Baitullah Mehsud in late February 2009 with the shared goal of fighting against the United States. Nazir emphasized at the time that all three groups retained their independent status and territory. Yet Nazir announced in late June that he was abandoning the peace deal negotiated with the Pakistani military in 2008 and would attack Pakistani forces due to continued U.S. drone strikes and the escalating Pakistani military offensive.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur

Affiliation: Shura Ittehad-ul Mujahideen (United Council of Mujahideen); Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT)

Forces: Estimates range from 8,000 to 10,000 fighters.

Location: North Waziristan

Description: Hafiz Gul Bahadur is a member of the Uthmanzai subtribe of the Wazir tribe and a prominent militant commander based in North Waziristan. He has established ties to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, as well as Al Qaeda.

Gul Bahadur fought off Pakistani military incursions into North Waziristan from 2003 to 2005, which culminated in a brokered peace accord, the 2006 North Waziristan Peace Agreement. Gul Bahadur and other local commanders agreed in the accord to expel foreign militants—particularly Uzbek fighters from Central Asia—and concentrate their attacks on American forces in Afghanistan, rather than the Pakistani military. Fighting broke out again between Gul Bahadur forces and the military in July 2007, but another ceasefire was negotiated later that fall.

Gul Bahadur took part in a militant council that established the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as an umbrella militant network, which named Baitullah Mehsud as overall commander. Yet Meshud’s subsequent attacks on Pakistani government security forces and the military response against him caused Gul Bahadur to distance himself from the TTP, reportedly resigning as deputy leader. Gul Bahadur joined with Maulvi Nazeer in June 2008 to form the Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT), which opposed attacks on Pakistan forces and the presence of foreign Uzbek fighters and allegedly received covert support from the security services. Bahadur, Nazeer, and Baitullah reconciled in February 2009, forming the Shura Ittehad-ul Mujahideen (United Council of Mujahideen), which pledged loyalty to Mullah Omar of the Afghan Taliban and again promised to focus attacks on American troops in Afghanistan rather than the Pakistani military.

Gul Bahadur announced in late June that he was abandoning the ceasefire negotiated in 2007 with the Pakistani military due to the continued use of U.S. drone strikes and the Pakistani military’s expanding operations in the north-west of the country. He decided to ally his group with Baitullah and claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in June 2009 on a Pakistani military convoy that killed 23 soldiers.

Hakimullah Mehsud

Hakimullah Mehsud

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan

Forces: Believed to command approximately 8,000 troops.

Location: Orakzai Agency, FATA

Description: Hakimullah Mehsud is a senior lieutenant of Baitullah Mehsud and heads Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan operations in Orakzai Agency, the Khyber Agency, and the adjacent city of Peshawar. He has reportedly led operations targeting NATO supply lines, which have destroyed hundreds of vehicles and shipping containers in the past year and a half.

Hakimullah declared the imposition of sharia law in Orakzai in December 2008. He has been the target of at least one U.S. Predator drone strike, which he survived, and subsequently threatened to conduct ongoing suicide attacks in major Pakistani cities in retaliation for the strikes and for Pakistani military operations against Taliban fighters in the Swat district, Northwest Frontier Province. Hakimullah most recently claimed responsibility for coordinating the June 9, 2009 attack on the Peshawar Pearl Continental Hotel together with the terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which killed at least 17 and threatened to seriously disrupt international aid efforts for people displaced by the Swat conflict.

Faqir Mohammad

Faqir Mohammad

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan

Forces: Believed to command approximately 5,000 troops.

Location: Bajaur Agency, FATA

Description: Faqir Mohammad is a former disciple of Maulana Sufi Mohmmad’s Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), also known as the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law [see below], and was allegedly a member of Sufi Mohammad’s group of Pakistan fighters who joined to fight with the Afghan Taliban in 2001. He has continued to coordinate attacks into the adjacent Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan after his return to Bajaur. He is believed to have sheltered Arab fighters in Bajaur and acted as a facilitator for Al Qaeda in the border region. He reportedly coordinated a January 2006 meeting with top Al Qaeda ideologue Ayman al-Zawahiri in Damadola, Bajaur, which was targeted by a missile strike.

Mohammad was appointed a deputy leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, led by Baitullah Mehsud, at its founding in December 2007. There have been multiple reports of Mohammad’s death, and military operations were launched against his forces in August 2008, displacing over 500,000 people and allegedly killing over 1,800 Taliban fighters. Operations slowed by November 2008, and in February 2009 Mohammad’s forces announced a unilateral ceasefire that was shortly reciprocated by the Pakistani military. The Taliban refused to turn over Mohammad as part of a March 2009 peace agreement, despite military claims of victory, and attacks in Bajaur on security forces resumed when the Pakistani military launched operations in the nearby Malakand Division in April 2009.

Omar Khalid

Omar Khalid

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan

Forces: Claimed to command approximately 3,000 fighters in a 2008 interview.

Location: Mohmand Agency, FATA

Description: Khalid, also known as Abdul Wali, emerged as a prominent militant commander following the July 2007 siege of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. Following the siege, fighters reportedly under Khalid’s command seized and renamed a local mosque Lal Masjid after the Islamabad establishment and vowed to continue the mission of Lal Masjid leader Ghazi Abdul Rashid, who was killed in the raids. Khalid reportedly received military training in the 1990s by the Pakistani military to conduct attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir and was connected to the banned terror organization Harakat-ul-Mujahadeen, before crossing into Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Khalid has been the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan representative for the Mohmand agency since its inception in December 2007. In July 2008, Khalid reportedly captured and killed Shah Khalid, a rival militant commander who had opposed attacks on Pakistani security services. He was also linked to the abduction of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Khaliq Farahi, who was freed in September 2008. The military has conducted operations against his forces and those in neighboring Bajaur Agency, but he remains at large.

Maulana Fazlullah

Maulana Fazlullah

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan; Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)

Forces: Believed to have commanded approximately 5,000 fighters prior to the most recent military operations against them in Swat in April 2009.

Location: Swat district, Malakand Division, NWFP

Description: Maulana Fazlullah controls an armed faction of the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, which has increasingly been identified as an affiliate of Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan since mid-2007. He is nicknamed “Mullah Radio” for his extensive use of pirated FM radio stations to disseminate his message throughout the Swat valley. His group opposed polio vaccine campaigns and girls’ education, and worked to establish a parallel government in parts of Swat.

Fazlullah’s fighters conducted attacks against the government and security services following the Pakistani military’s July 2007 raid on the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. A brief ceasefire agreement broke down in November 2007, and militant forces carried out regular bombings of schools, police and security service members, as well as government facilities within Swat throughout much of 2008. A ceasefire was renewed in late February 2009 after the army, under heavy strain, returned to its barracks and Fazlullah and other Tehrik-e-Taliban commanders in the FATA reciprocated. Fazlullah’s father-in-law, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, brokered a formal peace agreement between Fazlullah’s forces and the provincial government that was eventually signed into law by President Zardari in early April 2009. Yet tensions over the implementation combined with Fazlullah’s forces’ refusal to relinquish their weapons made it short-lived, as Taliban fighters entered the adjacent district of Buner and took police and paramilitary officers hostage. This prompted a heavy military response beginning in late April that is still ongoing. Fazlullah has gone underground since the operation began and is believed to be operating from a stronghold in the Peochar valley within Swat.

Maulana Sufi Mohammad

Maulana Sufi Mohammad

Affiliation: Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)

Forces: Does not appear to command troops at this time.

Location: Swat district, Malakand Division, NWFP

Description: Mohammad is a former member of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Islamist party and the founder of Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), which he formed in 1992 and used to call for the imposition of sharia law.

Mohammad organized local recruits to defend the Taliban regime against the American-backed Northern Alliance in 2001. Most of the fighters were ultimately killed or arrested and a few, including Mohammad, returned to Pakistan and were arrested after the group was banned in 2002. Mohammad’s son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah took control of remnants of the TNSM during his imprisonment, during which time he began clashing with military forces and eventually linked himself to Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Mohammad was released from prison in 2008, renounced violence, and was used as an intermediary to broker a peace deal between the provincial government and the Taliban in Swat in February 2009 in return for the implementation of sharia law in the Malakand Division. This was later signed into law by President Zardari as the “Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.” Mohammad demanded personal authority to appoint the qazis (religious judges) for sharia courts as part of the deal, which he said would not be subject to appeal at the civil Peshawar High Court or Supreme Court of Pakistan. These comments, along with high-profile statements in which he declared democracy to be incompatible with Islam, weakened public support for the peace agreement in Pakistan.

Military operations began in the Malakand Division following the Taliban’s refusal to disarm. At least one of Sufi Mohammad’s sons was reported killed in the fighting, and two of his top aides were arrested and subsequently killed in an attack on a prison convoy. Mohammad disappeared from public view following the start of military operations, but reappeared in Peshawar in July amid rumors that he had been detained by Pakistani authorities.

Qari Zainuddin Mehsud

Qari Zainuddin Mehsud

(deceased)

Affiliation: Abdullah Group; allegedly backed by the Pakistani government

Forces: Believed to command as many as 3,000 fighters at the time of his death

Location: South Waziristan and Dera Ismail Khan, NWFP

Description: Qari Zainuddin Mehsud was the self-appointed successor to former Taliban commander Abdullah Mehsud, and emerged in mid-2009 as a local rival to Baitullah Mehsud for control over militant forces in South Waziristan. Baitullah and Zainuddin are members of the same larger tribe, but they are from different sub-clans and are not direct relations.

Zainuddin was allied with Haji Turkistan Bhittani, another local rival of Baitullah’s, but his forces are believed to have been largely driven out of South Waziristan and into the adjacent NWFP district of Dera Ismail Khan, where some reports suggest he received covert government support. Zainuddin, in multiple interviews conducted in June 2009, accused Baitullah of violating the laws of Islam by carrying out suicide attacks and killing civilians. But Zainuddin expressed a commitment to continued jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and other areas where “infidels have come together against Islam.” The two forces clashed several times, and some reports indicate that each killed family members of the other leader. Zainuddin was assassinated at his offices on June 23, 2009, allegedly by a member of his security detail working for Baitullah Mehsud. In late July, Zainuddin’s surviving forces formally joined in alliance with those of Haji Turkistan Bhittani, with Iklhas Khan Mehsud as the new Abdullah Mehsud Group’s leader.

Haji Turkistan Bhittani

Haji Turkistan Bhittani

Affiliation: Abdullah Group; allegedly backed by the Pakistani government

Forces: Unknown, but has reportedly recently recruited additional followers with government backing for actions against Baitullah Mehsud.

Location: South Waziristan and Tank district, NWFP

Description: Haji Turkistan Bhittani is a leader of the small Bhittani tribe and a former associate of Baitullah Mehsud’s who broke with him over the use of suicide bombings and his attacks on Pakistani security forces. Bhittani reportedly fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and previously served in Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Bhittani’s forces have clashed with Baitullah’s since at least mid-2008, and have been subject to retaliatory suicide bombings. To date, he has escaped unharmed. Bhittani described Baitullah Mehsud in recent press interviews as an agent of American, Indian, and Israeli interests, and accused him of misleading local youth into attacks on fellow Muslims and the Pakistani security forces. Bhittani pledged, following ally Qari Zainuddin Mehsud’s death, to eliminate Baitullah’s network in South Waziristan. His own forces are now concentrated in the adjacent district of Tank, where Pakistani press sources reports he is recruiting followers based out of government-owned buildings. In late July, Bhittani’s forces allied with the survivors of Qari Zainuddin Mehsud’s fighters to form a new Abdullah Mehsud Group opposed to Baitullah, which named Iklha Khan Mehsud as its leader.

Mangal Bagh

Mangal Bagh

Affiliation: Lashkar-e-Islami (Army of Islam, LEI); Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT)

Forces: Unknown; claims to have approximately 10,000 fighters, but this number is likely exaggerated.

Location: Khyber Agency, FATA, and Peshawar, NWFP

Description: Mangal Bagh is a former bus driver who took over leadership of the group Lashkar-e-Islami in the Khyber Agency of the FATA shortly after its founding in 2005. LEI imposed a strict moral code through much of the area, operating pirate radio stations and conducting public executions in some reported cases. The group was officially banned in 2007, but continued to operate with what some locals interpreted to be support of the Pakistani military and intelligence services.

The group’s activities in and around Peshawar escalated in the summer of 2008, including the kidnapping of 16 Christians who were later released after intensive negotiations. The Pakistan Army began military operations against the group in June 2008, including shelling Bagh’s bases, but he instructed his forces not to resist the army, and most are reported to have fled prior to the operation. Bagh denied that his forces were challenging the authority of the state or conducting attacks on NATO supply convoys, and insisted he had no connection to Al Qaeda or Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan; there have been few reports of subsequent military action against him. Bagh formed the Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement) together with Haji Namdar and Hafiz Gul Bahadur to resist the TTP and local Baitullah lieutenant Hakimullah Mehsud, but there were few reports of direct clashes between the groups following Namdar’s death.

Haji Namdar

Haji Namdar

(deceased)

Affiliation: Tanzim Amr bil Maroof wa Nehi Anil Munkir (Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue); Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement, MTT)

Forces: Organizational strength unclear following his death.

Location: Khyber Agency, FATA and Peshawar, NWFP

Description: Haji Namdar established the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in 2003 following a 12-year pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. He modeled the system on Saudi Arabia’s own strict religious police and the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, banning music and television and threatening those who failed to grow beards or cover their heads.

Namdar’s forces, which allegedly include foreign Arab fighters, are believed to have carried out attacks on western forces in Afghanistan and to have established several private prisons in which they held those who violated Namdar’s orders. The group was officially banned by the Pakistani government, but continued operations in Khyber and around Peshawar. Namdar resisted joining Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan umbrella organization, however, and instead allied with Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-e-Islam and Hafiz Gul Bahadur to form the Muqami Tehrik-e-Taliban (Local Taliban Movement), which some sources suggest received government support. Namdar fought with the forces of Baitullah’s lieutentant Hakimullah Mehsud, and was assassinated in August 2008 at a mosque in Khyber agency.

Jalaluddin Haqqani

Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani

Affiliation: Haqqani Network (HQN)

Forces: Unknown; some estimates suggest between 7,000-10,000 fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Location: North Waziristan

Description: Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani founded the Haqqani network, which is a coalition of militants that train terrorists, provide logistics, and organize operations against U.S., NATO, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Jalaluddin was one of the largest recipients of U.S. and Pakistani aid and arms to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s. He was never formally a member of the Taliban, but he served as a minister in the Taliban government during the 1990s. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani fled to Pakistan, built a network of fighters, and turned his attention to expelling U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin was appointed overall military commander for the Afghan Taliban in 2007, but his organization is generally viewed by American military analysts as distinct from the Quetta shura that leads the Afghan Taliban. There have been some reports of rivalry between Jalaluddin and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and the exact extent of their military coordination remains unclear, but the two organizations appear to complement each other’s operations. Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, has reportedly assumed greater leadership over the group’s operations in recent years. The network allegedly controls large areas of southeastern Afghanistan and has established parallel governments in many areas. They are also believed to collaborate with Al Qaeda and have numerous foreign fighters in their ranks. It is alleged that Pakistani intelligence services and military maintain linkages with the group, seeing them as a strategic asset, and the group is not known to have carried out attacks against Pakistani security services.

The network is also allegedly responsible for a number of the boldest and deadliest attacks in Afghanistan including the January 14, 2008 attack on Kabul’s Serena Hotel, which killed eight people; the failed assassination attempt on President Karzai in April 2008; the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in July 2008; and the raid of government buildings in Khost, Afghanistan. The United States has targeted the network through repeated drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but to no avail.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Affiliation: Hizb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin (Islamic Party-Gulbuddin, HIG)

Forces: Unknown, but some estimate several thousand.

Location: Bajaur Agency, FATA & Kunar, Afghanistan

Description: Hekmatyar is the head of the Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, an Islamic extremist insurgent group intent on expelling foreign forces from Afghanistan. His group is based in FATA and operates in eastern Afghanistan, specifically Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar provinces. He is also believed to control several Afghan refugee camps in northwest Pakistan.

Hekmatyar formed HIG in the 1970s to fight the Soviet-supported Afghan government and later the Soviet occupation. He was heavily supported by U.S., Pakistani, and Saudi intelligence services. Hekmaytar fought in the Afghan civil war following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, and served as the Prime Minister of Afghanistan for a short period of time. He is notorious for shelling Kabul between 1994 and 1996 to recapture it, resulting in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. He was defeated by the Taliban in 1996, and he fled to Iran, where he remained in exile until 2002.

HIG joined the insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. government formally designated Hekmatyar as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in 2003. Hekmatyar has pledged loyalty to Mullah Omar and is believed to coordinate with both the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but HIG operates independently. They have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Afghanistan, including shooting down a helicopter with foreign troops in the Laghman province, blowing up a Kabul police vehicle, and killing 10 French soldiers in 2008.

He is believed to have maintained linkages with the Pakistani intelligence services. The Afghan government is allegedly in serious negotiations with Hekmatyar to establish a ceasefire.

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