- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (UPI) — The United States on Wednesday declared Afghan rebel leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar "a specially designated global terrorist."

A former Afghan prime minister, Hekmatyar was blamed for a civil war that caused thousands of deaths in Kabul after the Russian withdrawal in 1989.

"The U.S. government has information indicating that Gulbadin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al Qaida and the Taliban," said the designation statement issued by the State Department in Washington.

"Because of his terrorist activity, the United States is designating Hekmatyar as a specially designated global terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224," it added.

"The United States will request that the U.N. 1267 Sanctions Committee include Hekmatyar on its consolidated list of entities and individuals associated with bin Laden, al Qaida and the Taliban," said a spokesman for the State Department.

This would obligate all member states to impose sanctions, including asset freezes, under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1455.

In the early 1980s, Hekmatyar formed the Afghan Hezb-i-Islami party and along with other Afghan mujahedin groups he forced the Russian occupation forces to leave Afghanistan in 1979.

But after the Russian withdrawal, he was engaged in a long and bloody power struggle with another Afghan guerrilla leader, Ahmad Shah Masud. When Masud's forces captured Kabul, he laid siege to the city from the surrounding mountains and the ensuing fight caused the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians.

A truce with the then-President Burhanuddin Rabbani ended the siege in 1995, and Hekmatyar joined the Kabul government as prime minister. But this government was toppled by the Taliban in early 1996, forcing Hekmatyar to flee to northern Afghanistan where he joined hands with his archrival Masud to fight the Taliban.

But Hekmatyar, who is an ethnic Pashtun, could not stay long in Masud's Northern Alliance, which was dominated by ethnic Tajiks. After his split with the alliance, Hekmatyar took refuge in Iran where he stayed till early 2002.

After the collapse of the Taliban regime in December 2001, U.S. and Afghan pressure forced Iran to expel Hekmatyar, who escaped to Afghanistan where he is now believed to be hiding among Pashtun tribesmen.

Last year, his Hezb-i-Islami party announced signing a deal with the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaida and pledged to oust American forces from Afghanistan with Taliban support.

In early January, U.S. forces fought a pitched battle with Hekmatyar's men near the former Taliban headquarters of Kandahar. Dozens of his supporters were killed in the intensive bombing by U.S. and allied forces, which also destroyed large caches of arms hidden in the caves.

Hekmatyar has been involved in radical politics since the late 1970s when he became a member of Afghanistan's Muslim Brotherhood movement.

During the Afghan war from 1979-89, he moved to Pakistan, where he received huge military and financial assistance from his American and Pakistani allies to fight the Russians.

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