Yunis Khalis

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Maulavi Yunis Khalis (1919-2006)[1] was an Afghan regional leader based in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangahar Province on the boder with Pakistan. Personally a Khugiani Pashtun, his following, the Hezb-e-Islami Khalis faction after the breakup of Hezb-e-Islami, is primarily Ghilzai. The other faction was allied to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. While he was a fundamentalist who had studied at the Haqqania Madrassa, he probably was more tribally than religiously identified. He was reported to have died on July 19, 2006.

In 1979, he was allied with Jalaluddin Haqqani, Abdul Haq and Hajj Din Mohammed.[2] Mullah Mohammed Omar was one of his junior commanders. [3]

in 1988 he led a delegation of mujahideen leaders to the U.S., and was recognized by Ronald Reagan as a "freedom fighter". He was not a favorite of Inter-Services Intelligence,[4] although he had contacts with them, especially when bin Laden returned to Afghanistan.[5]

When the U.S. pressured the Taliban to surrender bin Laden, Khalis was reported to have replied to the Saudi ambassador, "We are the Afghans. If the livestock in the lands of the two Holy Mosques; the cattle, sheep and camels; sought our protection, we will surely protect it in the best manner and we would not hand it over to no one. So, in what way do we deal with a man who we saw from him nothing but support, Jihad and bestowment? And these are the graves of his brethren and their martyrs are in every region of Afghanistan?? This will not be!". [6]

At the time of the Battle of Tora Bora, [7], he was in a difficult position. He was not at all pro-American, but had received the third-largest amount of CIA funds. Osama bin Laden was virtually a protege of Khalis, who, with Hajji Abdul Qadir and Engineer Mahmoud -- who first invited him back to Afghanistan after he left Sudan. Michael Scheuer, a CIA officer, said "Khalis had an avuncular interest in bin Laden...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."

He declared Jihad on the U.S. in 2003, but, by then, was ill and had turned most responsibility to his son, Anwar-ul Haq Mujahid. His party split into anti-government and government factions, and the anti-government faded away. Their leader Hajji Din Mohammed became Kabul’s governor in June 2005


  1. "Leader of Afghan mujahideen dies", BBC News, 24 July 2006
  2. Larry P. Goodson (2001), Afghanistan's Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics and the Rise of the Taliban, University of Washington Press, ISBN 0295980508, p. 62
  3. Steve Coll (2004), Ghost Wars: the Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Penguin, p. 282
  4. Coll 2004, p. 288
  5. Coll 2004, p. 327
  6. "The Islamic Taliban Movement and The Dangers of Regional Assimilation", Nida'ul Islam magazine, April-May 1997
  7. Mary Anne Weaver (September 11, 2005), "The War on Terror: Four Years on; Lost at Tora Bora", New York Times