The New York Times has reported that the Afghan government has been exploring possible negotiations with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a controversial former mujahedeen with ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. According to the NYT report, these negotiations could end up being supported by the U.S.:
Even as President Barack Obama floated the idea of negotiating with moderate elements of the Taliban, Afghan and foreign officials here said that preliminary discussions with the Taliban leadership were already under way and could be developed into more formal talks with the support of the United States. The Afghan government has been exploring the potential for negotiations with the Taliban leadership council of Mullah Muhammad Omar and with a renegade mujahedeen leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, after receiving overtures from them last year, the officials said. The proposal for talks gained additional momentum from an endorsement by Saudi Arabia and the change to a civilian government in Pakistan, both of which increased political pressure on the Taliban to compromise. Afghan government officials and Western diplomats said the peace process might have already made greater progress, if the Afghan government and the United States had pushed it more forcefully. They also said that negotiations should be expanded to a broad spectrum of Taliban leaders and that a policy of talking only to moderates was doomed to failure…..American officials would not comment on negotiations with the Taliban or with Hekmatyar, except to say that they supported the five-year-old government reconciliation process. Western diplomats in Kabul said that even under the Bush administration, the United States had grown more receptive to the idea of talking to the Taliban.
A 2005 Jamestown Foundation report describes the behavior of Hekmatyar’s mujahedeen faction known as the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (The Islamic Party of Afghanistan or HIA) which has been widely blamed for the violence of the post-Soviet period in Afghanistan:
Although the HIA faction under Hekmatyar was the most heavily armed, funded and publicized organization of the resistance, it did little of the real fighting against the Soviets. Instead, it was responsible for most of the assassinations, purges and infighting with rival groups and personalities. It ruled and dominated the Afghan scene with intimidation, fear and sheer terror. Nonetheless, after the withdrawal of the Soviets and the collapse of Dr. Najibullah’s regime, Hekmatyar’s HIA remained the most powerful and best equipped organization. Hekmatyar and his Pakistani sponsors erroneously anticipated a quick seizure of power by the HIA. However, based on the Jabalurseraj Agreement, thrashed out among Ahmad Shah Masoud of the Tajiks, Abdul Ali Mazari of the Hazaras and Abdur Rashid Dostum of the Uzbeks, the strategic center and garrisons in Kabul were taken over by these three groups. Hekmatyar’s forces were left out of the city, and in a futile attempt to reverse this misfortune, HIA forces shelled the city indiscriminately.
The Jamestown report also says that Hekmatyar started his political career as a leftist and later became a disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyed Qutb, one of the most important ideologues in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Spring 1993, Hekmatyar participated in a meeting in Afghanistan that included:
- Burhanuddin Rabbani (former President of Afghanistan and also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood)
- Mustafa Machour (Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood)
- Kazi Hussain Ahmed (Head of the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist group close to the global Muslim Brotherhood)
- Ghaleb Ali Himmat (Leader of the German Muslim Brotherhood)
A confidential Swiss prosecutor’s report has said that Hekmatyar also had financial transactions with the now-defunct Al-Taqwa Bank established by Mr. HImmat and Youssef Nada, another leader of the Muslim Brotherhood living near Mr. Himmat in Italy. According to that report:
…the examination of the bank accounts at the investigators’ disposal and especially the account number 112333 through the Paribas Bank notably permitted to bring to light …money transfers to the profit of Gulbuddin HEKMATYAR; it being specified that not long after these transfers massacres took place in Kaboul…
Numerous Muslim Brotherhood luminaries held shares in the bank, including the bank’s Sharia supervisor Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi and his family, which was supposed to conduct business in accord with Islamic principles. The bank was closed in 2000 after what Nada said were unforeseen developments related to the Asian financial crisis and a run on the bank caused by unfavorable publicity generated by accusations that the bank was funding Hamas. Prosecution of Nada and Al Taqwa has also been dropped in Switzerland recently but Nada, Himmat, Nasreddin, and Al Taqwa remain on the U.S. and other lists of designated terrorists.