Three Warlords Loom Large in Afghanistan

Former anti-Soviet allies come back to haunt US
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2008 12:54 PM CDT
In this frame grab taken 05 May 2007, from a DVD delivered to AFP, renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar answers AFP questions at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.   (AFP/Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Behind Afghanistan’s recent escalation in violence looms three faces familiar to the US intelligence community. Mohammed Omar, founding mullah of the “Big T” Taliban government; Jalaluddin Haqqani, his one-time cabinet minister; and the ruthless Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are most responsible for leading the anti-government charge, the LA Times reports—and all three were armed and trained by the US during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s.

But familiar or not, the trio has been impossible to take out, hiding in Pakistan’s tribal area. “Because they don’t hang their hats in Afghanistan, we really have got no options,” said one intelligence officer. The three aren’t close—Hekmatyar once fought against the Taliban—but that too is familiar. We’re fighting “a collection of loosely allied groups, chiefly of the militant Islamist variety,” said one CIA official. “We have assumed the place of the Soviets.”