Afghan Biographies

Maulavi Mahdi

Name Maulavi Mahdi
Ethnic backgr. Hazara
Date of birth 1988
Function/Grade Hazara Cleric
History and Biodata

3. Biodata:
Maulavi Mahdi was born 1988 in a tiny village called Hosh, Balkhab district. Mahdi was 8 years old when the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996. Three years later, the Taliban bombarded his district of Balkhab. He fled with his family to Iran, like many Hazaras, returning only after the militants were driven from power after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Back in Hosh, Mahdi attended school and seemed set to take over the family farm. But in his early 20s, a corrupt local Hazara commander allied with the U.S.-backed government seized their family lands, Mahdi said. In retaliation, Mahdi and his friends kidnapped the commander’s son, according to villagers and analysts. After district elders intervened, the commander returned the lands and Mahdi released his son.
That night, the commander’s forces surround Mahdi’s home. As he tried to escape, clashes erupted. Mahdi was injured and hospitalized. He was then jailed. He would spend the next seven years in prisons, where he met and interacted with Taliban inmates.
He grew more devout in prison, studying the Koran and praying with militants five times a day.
“He also met Taliban mullahs inside the prison,” said Salman Akhlaki, a childhood friend. “When he was released, I saw a big change in his behavior and in his body.”
When Mahdi returned home to Afghanistan at the age of 29, he started to hold meetings to encourage other Hazaras to join the Taliban, speaking out against the U.S. military and corruption of the U.S.-backed government. He and his fresh recruits soon became pariahs, he acknowledged.
“The Shiite community saw us through a black lens,” Mahdi said. “They considered us barbarians. Even my immediate community saw me as a traitor.”
But as Mahdi’s pro-Taliban militia grew, a pro-government Hazara warlord sought his allegiance. Mahdi said he turned him down because “he was on the wrong path. He preferred houses and other luxuries over religion and the count
Soon after, Mahdi’s militia came under attack by government forces. By his own account, he fled to neighboring Samangan province.

He was the Taliban’s intelligence chief for Bamian province. 2020 Last the Taliban made Mahdi a shadow district governor in his birthplace. Then they showcased a video of him on their website to glorify his credentials. On a recent trip to Kabul, he was housed in a large villa with a garden, which the Taliban typically reserves for its most senior leaders. The Taliban has dispatched Mahdi to Hazara areas as an emissary and set up informal Shiite courts for the first time to attract more Hazaras.

Last Modified 2021-11-03
Established 2021-11-03