War Criminal Afghan Army Chief of Staff Dostum Opens Fire on Member of Own Political Party

As Afghanistan careens toward presidential elections next April and the end of authorized NATO presence in Afghanistan at the end of next year, we are beginning to see jockeying for position among the same set of militia strongmen who never have been forced to face consequences for the war crimes they committed the last two times Afghanistan was without a government.

Perhaps the most notorious of these war criminals is Rashid Dostum, who is accused of killing up to two thousand prisoners who surrendered as Kabul fell to US forces. Here is McClatchy in 2008 describing Dostum removing evidence of his war crimes:

Seven years ago, a convoy of container trucks rumbled across northern Afghanistan loaded with a human cargo of suspected Taliban and al Qaida members who’d surrendered to Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord and a key U.S. ally in ousting the Taliban regime.

When the trucks arrived at a prison in the town of Sheberghan, near Dostum’s headquarters, they were filled with corpses. Most of the prisoners had suffocated, and others had been killed by bullets that Dostum’s militiamen had fired into the metal containers.

Dostum’s men hauled the bodies into the nearby desert and buried them in mass graves, according to Afghan human rights officials. By some estimates, 2,000 men were buried there.

Earlier this year, bulldozers returned to the scene, reportedly exhumed the bones of many of the dead men and removed evidence of the atrocity to sites unknown. In the area where the mass graves once were, there now are gaping pits in the sands of the Dasht-e-Leili desert.


Now, Mutaqi said, “You can see only a hole. In the area around it you can find a few bones or some clothes. The site is gone . . . as for evidence, there is nothing.”

The US has done absolutely nothing to see that Dostum faces prosecution for his crimes. In fact, with the recent disclosure of “bags o’ cash” going directly from the CIA to Hamid Karzai, the word is that as Afghanistan’s Chief of Staff of the Army, Dostum is recieving up to $100,000 per month under the program.

Today, we learn that Dostum is running roughshod again. The scene of the crime is once again Sherberghan. It appears that Dostum’s militia has engaged in gunfire with the provincial governor’s security detail. Adding to the confusion surrounding this event is that the provincial governor is a member of the same political party Dostum founded. Further, it appears that Dostum’s militia is also accused of firing on the National Security Directorate.

Radio Free Europe has this description of today’s events:

The governor of Afghanistan’s northern Jowzjan Province says his house has been attacked by ethnic Uzbek commander Abdul Rashid Dostum’s militia.

Governor Mohammad Alem Saee told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that several attackers were injured on June 17 when his bodyguards returned fire.

Saee said Dostum’s militia also attacked the National Security Directorate’s provincial office.

We learn from Khaama Press that although Dostum and Sahi belong to the same political party, they have been feuding:

According to reports the armed men of former Warlord and founder of National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum on Monday attacked the Jowzjan provincial compound.


Mohammad Aalim Sahi was a member of the National Islamic Movement Party of Afghanistan, however severe disputes were reported between him and Gen. Dostum recently.

According to reports Mohammad Aalim Sahi also has close relations with Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Stars and Stripes sees this development as signalling that Afghanistan faces a very uncertain future:

In what may be a worrying sign for the future of Afghanistan, militiamen loyal to the Afghan National Army chief of staff and the bodyguards of a provincial governor exchanged fire on Monday for 20 minutes in the north of the nation, officials said.

Mohammad Alam Sayee, the governor of Jowzjan province, was returning to his compound in the provincial capital Sherberghan, when armed men affiliated with Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum moved in on the facility, Sayee’s spokesman, Mohammad Yama Jamili said.


After Sayee took refuge in his compound, tensions escalated and the two sides fired on each other, though no one was injured, according Jamili.

Jowzjan police chief Abdul Aziz Ghairat confirmed that he received a report that Dostum’s men had surrounded the governor’s compound, but said the firefight ended by the time his officers arrived at the scene.

This is not the first time that Dostum has feuded with a prominent figure of the political party he founded. Back in February, a member of the party became so upset with Dostum that he threatened to expose Dostum’s war crimes (even though we already know about them):

The former leader of Hezb-e-Junbish Millie Islami — National Islamic Movement party of Afghanistan warned to disclose the war crimes of the party’s founder and former warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum if he does not prevent his interference in the party.

However a spokesman for the National Islamic Movement party of Afghanistan denied the allegations by Syed Noorullah Sadat and said Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum does not misuse from his military position to interfere in party’s internal affairs.

Syed Noorullah Sadat accused Gen. Dostum for interfering in National Islamic Movement Party fo Afghanistan and warned that he will disclose the war crimes committed by him.

It would appear that Dostum is taking steps to solidify his power ahead of the coming transitions. What could possibly go wrong with a known war criminal expanding his power base?

11 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Well, he may be a psychopathic inhumane warlord, but he’s OUR psychopathic inhumane warlord. Is that how it goes?

  2. bell says:

    @Jim White:
    if that was the case he would then be the psychopathic representative for all 3 countries.. kinda cuts to the quick about just what the usa is about in afganistan doesn’t it?

  3. Garrett says:

    Also, some AANs about the subfactional split.

    Two months after the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, his old coalition, the National Front of Afghanistan (Jebha-ye Melli Afghanistan), has been revived. The new grouping is calling for radical political reform in order, as they see it, to re-enfranchise the Afghan voter. They want decentralization,a proportional voting system and a prime minister. At the same time, the move can be seen as an attempt by three northern leaders who have experienced serious political setbacks in recent years to re-energise their careers: former first vice president, and member of Jamiat-e Islami, Ahmad Zia Massud, the founder of Jombesh party General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Muhammad Muhaqqiq, leader of one branch of Hezb-e Wahdat and an MP for Kabul. The Front is also interesting for who is not in it, argues AAN’s Gran Hewad: several key players from the 2007 incarnation of the Front are now missing.

    The New National Front: A Dark Horse Returns – with Three Riders

    Peszkowski shows how Jombesh, of all the tanzims, has struggled the hardest to become a modern political party, with a youth wing, functioning subnational structures and internal elections. As he points out: “A new, younger generation of leaders has emerged within the party and is pushing for greater influence.” But the decision where to go is still open. He argues that the often-delayed 4th Jombesh congress shows that, “the internal reforms of the party have stalled – largely due to internal conflicts not only between pro- and anti-reform groups but also within the reformist group.” Even the Jombesh reformers, he points out, have problems in how to “distance themselves from [party leader] General Dostum” and face “the persistent role of former military commanders”, as well as “outside interference such as by the Karzai government.”

    Start of AAN political parties paper series 1: Reforming Jombesh

    The official leader of Jombesh party has been relieved of his post, along with eight other members of the party’s political committee. The sacked chairman, Sayed Nurullah Sadat, has cried foul, saying he could only be removed by a party congress and accusing the party’s founder, General Dostum, of being behind his dismissal.

    New Trouble in the Jombesh: Dostum reasserts leadership

  4. Garrett says:

    And it would be nice to know, at some reasonable level, who CIA and Special Forces back more, who CIA and Special Forces back less.

    Of all the various warlords in Afghanistan, with their shifting alliances and wars, U.S warlords are by far the hardest to follow.

    Edited to add, like this:

    Even the Jombesh U.S. Democrat reformers, he points out, have problems in how to “distance themselves from [party leader] war-criminal General Dostum” and face “the persistent role of former current military commanders”, as well as “outside interference such as by the Karzai U.S. shadow government.”

    NYT uses the analogy:

    Under his command are all the various “tribes” of American Special Operations forces: Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine Corps Special Operations units, as well as the top-tier strike teams that hunt down or kill high-value terrorist and insurgent leaders.

    Afghan Commandos Step Up Their Combat Role

  5. Max says:

    Whoever is reading this, here is the truth. Jim White does claim to know everything, but I am someone who has been at the heart of all those things. If you say Dostum is a war criminal, then answer me this, WHICH one of the high ranking government officials arent ? Even Pres Karzai is guilty, he wasted billions of aid money on corrupt officials and ministries. Dostum belongs to the minority Uzbeks, who have been oppressed for centuries. And about the killing of Taliban in containers, he did the RIGHT THING. Those barbaric human beings in the name of Taliban killed thousands of people over 6 years of their rule. Every one of them DESERVED IT. If they were given to the government, they would be released and they would become suicide bombers once again and kill more innocent people. Thanks to Dostum, Afghanistan saw 2-3k less potential suicide bombers. Besides, non of them were Afghans and most were Pakistani and Al-Qaeda. I was in Afg during Taliban rule, I know what barbaric creatures they are. Thanks Jim, you are probably sitting in your room in the US or Europe and blogging about “war crimes”. If it werent for Dostum and his men, northern Afg would see many massacres in the hands of the Taliban and others.

    This being said, is ONLY A TINY fraction of all the truth going on in there. I wish you were there and you knew the whole truth.

  6. Max says:

    @Garrett, you seem to know very well about the situation there. I like how you analyze everything. It is true that Jonbesh wants to move forward, however they cannot because of all the discrimination against the minorities in Afghanistan. The two minorities, Uzbeks and Hazaras have suffered a lot, even in the forms of massacres(Like the massacre in Qaisar by Taliban.) The proof of this discrimination is that the Uzbek minority, despite being 11-12% of the population, hold no key ministries or government power. The warmongering majority, the pashtuns have been in power for hundreds of years and they claim everything for themselves. My close relative’s lands have been occupied by about 1000 pashtum families in a remote norther Afghanistan area, where pashtun population is zero, however they are strategically moving armed nomads and asking them to capture land by force and when my relative asked the government, as expected, they turn a blind eye.

    Anyway, I hope the 3 leaders in the north put an end to the barbaric rule of pashtoons who take pride in suicide bombings, and burning schools and beheading soldiers. We have had MORE THAN ENOUGH. I regret to witness how the West and especially US doesnt want to shift the power to a better leader, and thus make the country which suffered for 30 years into a better place.

  7. Jim White says:

    @Max: Yup, I am indeed in the states, but I hold to the quaint notion that it doesn’t matter what side someone is on, there should be a trial before punishment (especially summary mass execution) is carried out. I find the US extrajudicial execution of Osama bin Laden to be just as much of a war crime as Dostum and his men shooting prisoners inside shipping containers. I do not cheer for crimes committed by my side no matter how “deserving” the other side may seem.

  8. Garrett says:


    I find following Afghanistan to be very difficult. Mainstream reporting is worse than useless.

    Land theft. The theft of your relative’s lands.

    All U.S. reporters based in Afghanistan know of it as a widespread and major problem. But it rarely gets discussed in the papers. U.S. reporters in Afghanistan just routinely do not report what they know.

    I do worry greatly about the possibility of more civil war. I haven’t a clue what to think about hope for the elections.

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