In a threatening new audiotape obtained by NBC News, one of Afghanistan's most ruthless warlords calls for a revolt against U.S. forces and the “puppet government” of Afghan President Hamid Karzi.
In the 12-minute tape, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also issues a direct threat to U.S. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the commander of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan. Addressing Eikenberry by name, Hekmatyar urges the general to stay in Afghanistan.
“It is easier for us to kill you here than to travel all the way to America to do it,” Hekmatyar warns.
“I would like to kill you myself,” he adds.
Hekmatyar also promises to exact revenge on U.S. forces in Afghanistan after American soldiers caused a deadly road accident in Kabul over the weekend. The incident triggered fighting and the worst anti-American rioting in the capital since the U.S. took over Afghanistan nearly five years ago.
Hekmatyar, now a wanted man in Afghanistan, still enjoys a large following among jihadists and hard-liners. Ironically, he was once allied with the U.S., during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. At the time, he was even invited to the Reagan White House, but declined. Hekmatyar first hosted the Arab fighters who came to Afghanistan as part of a worldwide jihad. He provided Osama bin Laden with the land for his first training camp, and remains close to the so-called “Afghan Arabs.”
After the Soviet withdrawal, Hekmatyar became prime minister, but then broke from the government and brutally attacked other warlords. His men once subjected Kabul to a continual barrage of artillery that killed thousands and forced 200,000 residents to flee.
On May 6, 2002, a CIA Predator drone fired a Hellfire missile at a convoy in which Hekmatyar was riding. The missile missed him but killed several of his compatriots.
In the new audiotape, he claims “Americans place no value on human life.” He boasts that “the resistance is growing in the cities and towns of Afghanistan and now in Kabul too,” and he predicts that Afghan’s “sons are willing to lay down their lives for Islam and for their dignity.”
In a videotape that appeared several weeks ago on al-Jazeera TV, Hekmatyar declared his support for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.