Conflict & Controversy

January 25th, 20103:09 pm @

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Taliban prisoners in Sheberghan prison in December 2001

I will attempt to address the many media generated controversies about me with timelines and linkages to correct information. Below is the truth behind some of these bizarre rumors.

The Convoy of Death Myth - Newsweek, New York Times and The Guardian

To begin I would like to offer a detailed timeline on the events described by many as the “Convoy of Death”, an alleged massacre by my men and U.S. Special Forces members during the December 2001 Taliban surrender. A number of exotic allegations by nameless, faceless people were featured in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Guardian and in a semi fictional documentary made by Jamie Doran. Since none of these people have ever chosen to contact me or publish the facts, I am pleased to offer them on this site for the first time.

Crushing a Looter With A Tank

My life and career as Afghanistan’s most experienced and powerful military commander should not be without controversy. Journalists and writers often try to find examples, hooks or dramatic examples to establish my character. Unfortunately my career in the military has not given many journalists access. Probably the most egregious example of embellishment was Ahmed Rashid’s book, The Taliban in which he insists he was an eyewitness to the gore left behind by a tank crushing a looter. The fanciful concept is that I ordered a looter tied to the tracks of tank and then driven around the courtyard of Qali Jangi. Those familiar with the physical layout know this to be impossible since the orderly rose garden and parade areas are not used by armored vehicles. But more importantly it is Ahmed Rashid himself who admitted that he never saw this happen. When directly questioned on the dates, exact viewpoint and other details, Mr. Rashid admitted that he had heard this story but had not witnessed it. He promised to apologize publicly for this embarrassing breach of journalist standards, but he has not and his book continues to be sold as non-fiction.

Brutal Warlord

I am often referred to in the media as “a brutal warlord.” The term brutal and warlord are not intended to be complimentary, but disparaging. I have always operated either at the behest of my constituency or with the agreement of whatever form of Afghan government existed the time. I think that in Afghanistan’s long violent history, my role of the largest single military entity has been engaged in warfare, but my use of the military has resulted in peaceful resolution of disputes. I will expand on these in the coming weeks to better communicate how power comes from political support not from force. I have always used political negotiations as my first line of attack, backed up with the full impact of an armed response if needed. Democratic, constitutional power will always replace the gun.

Drugs

I have no desire or interest to profit from illegal activities. I also support the efforts of the world to eliminate the cultivation of poppies and marijuana from Afghanistan.

Links with Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran, etc

I am an Afghan with Uzbek ethnicity who grew up during times of Soviet influence in my country. My ancestors are Turkic by ancient origin. I endeavor to maintain cordial relations with all of our neighbors, who reciprocate.  I have a strong relationship with the country of Turkey and the United States and look forward to engaging the world community in the future of Afghanistan. Iran aided the United Front against the Taliban before 9/11, as did the United States through Ahmed Shah Massoud and other Afghan notables. My singular goal is the right of every Afghan to choose his government in a constitutionally protected and secure environment.

CIA

The United States was eager to exploit their assets in the region after 9/11. The assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud by al Qaeda and the death of Abdul Haq were examples of Afghans who paid for their loyalty to the CIA and America. I have never been favored by the U.S. State Department and it was the Department of Defense that finally insisted that the CIA support my efforts to defeat the Taliban in late 2001. My relationship with the CIA is documented in a number of books and I supported their small teams until the fall of Mazar i Sharif. They were not disappointed in our efforts but the government of the United States soon began to marginalize the accomplishments and sacrifices of the many commanders like Ismail Khan, Fahim Khan, Mohaqiq, others and myself who defeated the Taliban. In their efforts to remake Afghanistan I feel that the influence of expatriate Afghans who had not stayed during the tough times overshadowed the grass roots desires of Afghans hungry for self-determination. While I have no current relationship with the CIA, I encourage their efforts to fight terrorism and remove the scourge of al Qaeda from our region.

Relationship with President Karzai

Many stories exist about my contentious role with the elected President of this country. I supported President Karzai during his earliest days, but I strongly disagreed with a non-federal structure (like that of the United States or Iraq) in which regions have control over their affairs but align under a single state. We still see the fallout from this unfortunate decision. In the recent elections President Karzai saw the error of this and invited the ethnic and regional players to join an inclusive government. I campaigned vigorously for his re-election and am proud that my constituents delivered 45% of the final votes that elected President Karzai back into office. We applaud this, but we continue to respectfully demand that all Afghans be represented fairly and equally. I will continue to lobby, fight and labor to make sure that the people of the north, women and minorities are always included in our government.