Peshawar Seven

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The Peshawar Seven were seven organizations of mujahideen fighters against the pro-Soviet Afghan government, organized from an overwhelming 80 supplicants by Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Those organizations would go to Peshawar, Pakistan for supplies, funds, and orders. For a time, it was an actual political front, Ittehad-i-Islami B'rai Azadi-i-Afghanistan (Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan), which later broke up, its name retained by the faction of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.

While Saudi Arabia certainly was anti-Communist in principle and saw itself assisting oppressed Muslims, it also saw a geostrategic need to be sure that Iran did not become more powerful in the Muslim world, by being more helpful to the mujahideen. The Iranians had formed a Tehran Eight to support the Shi'a in Afghanistan.

When the faction of Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani stopped the flow of military assistance to the pro-Iranian mujahideen and tried negotiation, they were criticized internally by hard-liners. Those opponents criticized him for sacrificing Shi'a in the name of stability, but, in fact, he had focused first on ending the rule of pro-Soviet President Mohammed Najibullah. He overreached, within the post-Najibullah period, for 25 percent Shi'a representation in the government, which certainly would have been unacceptable to the Saudis. [1]

The Saudi means of being sure of having the desired influence was, at first, to support the Ettehad faction of Sayyaf, as well as that of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. It was the dominant external support to the Sunni mujahideen, although there was also the Tehran Eight for the Shi'a.[2]

In July, 1979, before the Soviet invasion, President Jimmy Carter for the first time authorized the CIA to start assisting the mujahideen rebels with money and non-military supplies sent via Pakistan. More than 80 Afghan groups asked for support, and the CIA asked Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, "You know the language and culture, not us." [3]

They included:

  1. Burhanuddin Rabbani's Afghanistan National Liberation Front
  2. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin
  3. Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan, also known as Ittehad
  4. Yunis Khalis and Hezb-e-Islami Khalis
  5. Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, National Islamic Front for Afghanistan
  6. Sayyid Ahmad Gailani, Revolutionary Islamic Movement
  7. Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi, Afghanistan National Liberation Front


  1. Henner Fürtig (2006), Iran's Rivalry with Saudi Arabia Between the Gulf Wars, Ithaca Press, ISBN 9780863723117
  2. Thomas Ruttig, Islamists, Leftists - and a Void in the Center. Afghanistan's Political Parties and where they come from (1902-2006), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, p. 2
  3. Gretchen Peters (2009), Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda, St. Martin's, ISBN 0312379277, p. 33