Khairkhwa, Maulawi Khairullah
|Name||Khairkhwa, Maulawi Khairullah|
|Date of birth||1963|
|Function/Grade||Member of Taliban Negotiation team|
|History and Biodata||
2. Previous Functions:
Khairkhwa received his religious education at the Haqqaniya and Akhora Khattak madrassas in Pakistan, alongside other influential Taliban insurgent leaders. Within the overall movement, he was reportedly “one of the more moderate Taliban in leadership circles."
Khairkhwa is believed to have a close relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who also belongs to the Popalzai tribe, and in January 2002 Khairkhwa called the president’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, to negotiate his surrender. The following day Pakistani forces arrested him. The president personally requested his release in February 2010, but he was rebuffed.
After being detained in Pakistan in 2002, Khairkhwah was in the US custody for over eight years. There are possibilities that the release of Maulawi Khairkhwah; Noorullah Noori; Maulawi Wasiq former Deputy Intelligence Chief; Mohammad Abdul Nabi Omar Khosti; Haji Wali Mohammad and Mullah Fazlullah Akhund, Taliban’s chief of staff; from Guantanamo Bay prison will be proposed.
A written request has been delivered to the US and President Karzai requesting the release of Khairkhah and Mullah Arsala Rahmani, a senator and former Taliban minister, said the Daily Telegraph. "Khairkhwah was an important man for the Taliban and his release would show the Americans are serious about negotiation. He is a good man and is well respected among the Taliban," Mullah Rahmani was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said if Khairkhwah is ready to reconcile with the government, we will discuss his release. "If Khairkhwah wants to make peace, we will welcome him. We will make contacts and discuss his release," President Karzai said while addressing reporters.·The US has removed the names of key Taliban leaders from the black list and is releasing Maulawi Khairkhwah, Noorullah Noori and Fazl Ahmad Fazel from Guantanamo. (20111231)
Sources familiar with the preliminary discussions said the former Taliban regional governor named Khairullah Khairkhwa may be sent to Afghan government custody. He is seen by American officials as less dangerous than other senior Taliban detainees now held at the US military prison in Cuba. No final decision appears to have been made on Khairkhwa's fate. A senior Obama administration official, while not disputing that Khairkhwa's unilateral transfer had been suggested, cautioned that it was still at a "brainstorming" level.(20120425)
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa is the most senior of the five on the list who have been released in the Bergdahl swap. Now (2014) in his mid-40s and a Popalzai from Arghestan in Kandahar, several people who knew him described him as ‘eagle-eyed’ and intelligent. He is one of the fraternity of original Taleban who launched the movement in 1994 – in other words, he is someone who will still command a great deal of influence and respect among today’s insurgents. It is mystifying to know where the Guantanamo Bay authorities got the idea that Khairkhwa was known, in their words, as a "hardliner in terms of Taleban philosophy". During the Emirate, he was considered one of the more moderate Taleban in leadership circles, along with commanders like Mullah Burjan (killed in 1996) and Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mullah Rabbani, who died of cancer in April 2001 (although his name stayed on the UN sanctions list for years). Unlike many Taleban, he was comfortable speaking to a foreigner and, very unusually, happy to be interviewed in Persian (most Taleban would only speak Pashto at the time). Herat, where he was the governor, was noticeably more relaxed than Kabul, Mazar or Kandahar.
Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn, who present biographies of many Taleban in their book, An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al-Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970-2010 say it is believed that Khairkhwa was educated in the Haqqaniya and Akora Khattak madrassas in Pakistan and fought with the Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami party during the 1980s jihad against the Soviets. He was a Taleban spokesman in the early days (1994-1996) and briefly interior minister following the Taleban takeover of Kabul. One witness who was in Mazar-e Sharif when the Taleban captured the city in 1997 placed him as a commander there, leading forces from western Afghanistan, although the witness said Khairkhwa did not participate in the defection agreement conducted in Faryab with General Malik. After the Taleban took Mazar, the city rebelled and thousands of Taleban were killed, some in fighting, but most afterwards by Malik (who had changed sides again), when they were prisoners of war. The bulk of Taleban forces were driven out and, according to the witness, Khairkhwa led those Taleban who withdrew westwards. He eventually established a new frontline in Bala Murghab, in Badghis province.
There is one war crime in which Khairkhwa may have had command and control responsibility, although this has not been substantiated. During the 1997 retreat, Taleban and/or their local Hezb-e Islami allies killed several dozen civilians in villages in the Dehdadi district of Balkh province. This area had suffered and would continue to suffer tit for tat attacks by both Pashtun and Hazara armed groups against the others’ civilians. The 1997 killings are referred to in a UN report with the possibility that they were carried out by Taleban or by local Pashtun, Hezb-e Islami commanders, who were under Taleban command. Khairkhwa subsequently became governor of Herat and witnesses do not place him as having taken part in the second campaign to capture Mazar in 1998 when the Taleban murdered at least two thousand mainly Hazara civilians, both men and boys, in revenge killings which were accompanied by explicitly anti-Shi’a rhetoric.
In February 2002, Khairkhwa was arrested by the Pakistani authorities and handed over to the Americans; after a short period of detention in Kandahar, he was transferred to Guantánamo jail. According to Anand Gopal in his new book, No Friends Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, the arrest was made after Khairkhwa had contacted representatives of Ahmad Wali Karzai, President Karzai’s half-brother (he was friendly with the family). He was looking for a formal amnesty and possibly a post in the new administration and the two sides met in a safe house in Chaman on the Pakistani side of the border where he was arrested. Khairkhwa’s name has come up repeatedly for possible release – including in February 2011 by the High Peace Council. Khairkhwa also featured in a case taken to the Federal District Court in Washington DC in March 2011, which sought his release because of ‘unlawful detention’. Hekmat Karzai, the director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and cousin of President Karzai, backed the case, saying he thought fair treatment of prisoners prevented further radicalisation and could aid reconciliation. “Mr Khairkhwa is well respected amongst the Taliban and was considered a moderate by those who knew him,” he told al-Jazeera. “We believe he can help in creating the address for the Taliban that is needed in this peace process.” The two also share the same tribal background.