Afghan Biographies

Khairkhwa, Maulawi Khairullah

Name Khairkhwa, Maulawi Khairullah
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth 1963
Function/Grade Minister of Information and Culture
History and Biodata

1. Former Minister of Information, Culture and Youth Affairs, now MoIC:
Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen Rahin,
Abdul Karim Khurram (2009),
Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen (20100103-20140930),
Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen Acting Minister of (Information), Culture and Youth (20141001)
acting Minister of Information and Culture Ghulam Nabi Farahi (20141209)
Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Sayed Mosaddiq Khalili (20150213)
Abdul Bari Jahani (20150418, 20161107) vote of no confidence
Mrs. Sayeda Muzhgan Mostafavi, acting Minister of Information and Culture (20171023)
Prof. Mohammad Rasoul Bawari acting Minister (20170423, 20180625)
Fazel Sancharaki, acting (20180102)
Mrs. Hassina Safi acting (20180625, 20190107)
Tahir Zuhair Taher Zuhair (20200405-20210712) nominated and acting not confirmed
Zabiullah Mojahid, Minister of Information, Culture and Youth Affairs and Taliban Spokesman (20210901) acting
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa (20210916, 20220201) acting, Maulvi Hayatullah Mujahir Farahi has been appointed as deputy minister for Information and Culture, replacing Zabihullah Mujahid (20220821)

Secretary of Zabihullah Mujahid: Mohammad Bilal Karimi (20210913)

Adviser & Spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Culture:

Mufti Abdul Matin Qani (20221127)
Mob: +93705838383. Office: +93202526200.

MoIC’s advisor on international affairs:
Jallal Noorani (20140122)
Hadiurahman Hadi (20170830)
Dr. Tariq Reshad (20181112)

Deputy Minister of Culture and Arts:
Mawlawi Atiqullah Azizi (20220305)

Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs:
Mullah Faizullah Tamim (20220305)


Deputy Minister:
Ahmad Zia Afshar, acting deputy minister for cultural affairs, has not been seen over the past three months. He has disappeared in Canada (20100328),
Zabiullah Mojahid (20210916)
Mullah Faizullah Akhund (20211122)
Maulvi Atiqullah Azizi, deputy minister of finance and administration at the Ministry of Information and Culture (20211122)

Deputy Minister of Culture and Arts, and Mullah Faizullah

Deputy Minister of Information and Culture on Publication Affairs: Mobariz Rashidi Mubarez Rashidi (20100225, 20111226), Mrs. Simin Hassanzada, Simeen Hasanzada (20141112, 20150207) Simeen Hasanzada has been dismissed for publicly endorsing the brutal murder of Farkhunda over false allegation of Quran burning.(20150402), Mrs Sayeda Muzhgan Mustafawi deputy of publication (20150621, 20171212) Sayed Hussain Fazel Sancharaki Sayed Aqa Fazel Sancharaki Fazil Sancharaki (20170503, 20180702, 20200208) Abdul Manan Shiway-e Sharq (20200209, 20200923) Haroon Hakimi (20210511)

Deputy Minister Of ministry of information and culture in youth affairs: Mohammad Zahir Ghaus Zaher Gauss (20091124) Taimoor Shah Eshaqzai, Timor Shah Ishaqzai Temor Shah Ishaqzai (20111224, 20150207) Dr. Kamal Sadaat (20151006, 20161009, 20181203) Mohammad Rasoul Bawari (Hazara) has been appointed as deputy minister of culture and art for information and culture.(20170117, 20180625) Dr. Kamal Sadaat (20151006, 20161009, 20181203) Mohammad Ajmal Shahpoor (20190923) 
Deputy in the Ministry of Information and Culture: Sayed Musadiq Khalili, Masaddiq Khalili, Sayed Masaddeq Khalili Sayed Mosadiq Khalili( (20120430, 20150526, 20160119))
Deputy Information and Culture Minister on Publications: Mrs. Simin Hassanzada, Simeen Hasanzada (20141112, 20150207) Simeen Hasanzada has been dismissed for publicly endorsing the brutal murder of Farkhunda over false allegation of Quran burning.(20150402), Mrs Sayeda Mrs. Muzhgan Mustafawi deputy of publication (20150621, 20171212) Abdul Manan Shiway-e Sharq (20200923) Deputy publications of the Ministry of Information and Culture: Mawlavi Hayatullah Muhajir Farahi (20221118)
Deputy of tourism, finance and administrative affairs: Zardasht Shams (20150526) Sayeda Muzhgan Mostafawi, former deputy of publication for Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) has been appointed as administrative, financial and tourism deputy minister of MoIC.(20170311) Abdul Bashir Hakimi, Deputy Minister of Finance, Admin and Tourism of the Ministry of Information and Culture (20210503)
Director of Foreign Relations: Omar Sultan (20100328), Contact: Aziza Ahmadyar (f)  Telephone: 93 (0) 70 152896 E-mail: aziza_ahmadyar(at)

MoIC’s advisor on international affairs: Dr. Tariq Reshad (2018112)
Director of historical monuments: Abdul Ahad Abbasi (2018112)
Director of archeology department: Noor Agha Noori (2018112)
Director of policy and plan: Abdul Moqim (2018112)

2. Previous Functions:
Acting Minister of Interior during Taliban time,
Speaker of Taliban Government
Governor Kabul Province
Governor of Herat province during Taliban time (1999-2001)
Military Commander in Mazar-i-Sharif (1997-1998)
Minister of Interior
Minister of Information and Culture acting (20210907, 20220201)


3. Biodata:
khairullah_khairkhwaMullah Mawlawi Khairullah Khairkhwah Khair Khwa Mullah Khair Khowa Said Wali Khairkhwa Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa Khairullah Said Wali Khairkhwa was born 1963 in Arghistan District, Province Kandahar. He hails from Popalzai tribe. He is said to be one of the founding fathers of the Taliban movement.


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.

Afghan High Peace Council has asked the United States to free ·top Taliban leaders who are in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, the Daily Telegraph reported. The demand for the release of top Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhah is the first ever formal recommendation made by the peace council. (20110208)

Khairkhwah had held key posts during the Taliban regime including acting interior minister and governor of eastern Herat, an income producing province. He was also Head of the Southwestern Zone that included Badghis, Farah and Helmand Provinces. US lawyers claimed that Khairkhwah was a top commander, extremist and having close ties with al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden. Guantanamo Bay prisoners are expected to play a crucial role to Afghan government's peace efforts.


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)
Mulla Muhammad Fazal Akhond, Mulla Norulla Noori, Mulla Khairulla Khairkhwa, Mulla Abdul Haq Waseeq, Mawlavi Mohammad Nabi, were released from Guantanamo detention facility.(20140601)


More Background:

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.


Last Modified 2024-07-15
Established 2011-12-31