I expressed our nation's continued strong support for the resistance and our satisfaction with the large step the Afghan resistance took toward unity in choosing a chairman for the first time.That's Chairman Yunis Khalis of the Islamic Union of Mujahidin.
And as the resistance continues the fight, we and other responsible governments will stand by it. The support that the United States has been providing the resistance will be strengthened, rather than diminished, so that it can continue to fight effectively for freedom.
On behalf of the American people, I salute Chairman Khalis, his delegation, and the people of Afghanistan themselves. You are a nation of heroes. God bless you.
The New York Times mentioned Khalis in an article describing how US special forces tried to orchestrate the capture bin Laden at Tora Bora in late 2001.
A theologian and warrior of considerable repute, Khalis knew the Americans well: he had fought for them two decades before... he had accepted Washington's largess, and over the years, as the war against the Soviet occupiers progressed, Khalis, among the seven resistance leaders, would receive the third-largest share of the more than $3 billion of weapons and funds that the C.I.A. invested in the jihad. As the godfather of Jalalabad, the capital of the province of Nangarhar, Khalis controlled a vast territory, including Tora Bora. It had been a key operational center for his fighters during the anti-Soviet war. And it was a key operational center for Osama bin Laden now. The caves were so close that Khalis could see them from the verandah of his sprawling stucco home.Remarkable. Perhaps this "hero" could provide some assistance to the US effort.
It was... during the war years that bin Laden first met Khalis; the two men became very close friends. Indeed, when bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in May 1996 from his base in the Sudan (after the United States insisted that the Sudanese government expel him), it was Khalis, along with two of his key commanders - Hajji Abdul Qadir and Engineer Mahmoud - who first invited him. And it was also Khalis who, later that year, would introduce bin Laden to the one-eyed leader of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Omar, who had fought with Khalis - and would later become his protégé - during the jihad.Ah well, maybe not.
Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden unit... told me recently... "Osama lost his father when he was young, and Khalis became a substitute father figure to him. As far as Khalis was concerned, he considered Osama the perfect Islamic youth".OK, definitely not. Not even worth asking, to be honest.
In late October or early November, according to Scheuer, American operatives went to see Khalis to seek his support. "Khalis said that he was retired and doing nothing now," Scheuer told me. "It was the last time" American intelligence officials saw him. "It was so bizarre! Didn't anybody know about Khalis's friendship with bin Laden? Or that Khalis was the only one of the seven mujahedeen leaders who remained neutral about, and sometimes even supported, the Taliban?" He shook his head and then went on: "And even after Sept. 11, indeed in spite of it, as soon as our bombing of Afghanistan began, Khalis issued a well-publicized call for jihad against U.S. forces in Afghanistan."Er, right, er... er, right. The US special forces asked bin Laden's substitute father if he fancied helping to capture Osama and topple the Taliban. This was the man who had invited bin Laden back to Afghanistan in 1996 and introduced him to the Taliban leadership. This was a man who had called for jihad against US forces. And he said no? Amazing...
So, Yunis Khalis; terrorist or freedom fighter?
Tags: US Foreign Policy, Afghanistan, Reagan, Bin Laden