Abdul Rashid Dostum

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Abdul Rashid Dostum : biography

1954 –

Much like other northern alliance leaders, Dostum also faced infighting within his group and was later forced to surrender his power to General Abdul Malik Pahlawan one of his military commanders who accused Dostum for the murder of his brother Rasul. Malik entered into secret negotiations with the Taliban, who promised to respect his authority over much of Northern Afghanistan, in exchange for Ismail Khan, one of their enemies.De Ponfilly, Christophe(2001); Massoud l’Afghan; Gallimard; ISBN 2-07-042468-5; p. 75 Accordingly, on 25 May 1997 Malik arrested Khan and handed him over and let the Taliban enter Mazari Sharif, giving them control over most of Northern Afghanistan. Because of this, Dostum was forced to flee to Turkey.page 6-8 – However, Malik soon realized that the Taliban were not sincere with their promises as he saw his men being disarmed. He then rejoined Northern Alliance, and turned against his erstwhile allies, driving them from Mazar-i-Sharif. In October 1997, Dostum returned from exile and retook charge. Malik escaped to Iran. After Dostum briefly regained control of Mazar-i-Sharif, the Taliban returned in 1998 and he fled to Turkey.

US invasion of Afghanistan

Dostum returned in 2001 to join the campaign against Taliban. Along with General Fahim, Ismail Khan and Mohammad Mohaqiq. In November 2001, with the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan, and against the wishes of the CIA who distrusted Dostum, a team including Johnny Micheal Spann landed to set up communications in the Dar-e-Suf. A few hours later 23 men of Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595 landed to begin the war.

On 24 November 2001, 300 Taliban soldiers retreated after the Siege of Kunduz by American and Afghan military forces. The Taliban laid down their weapons a few miles from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. They eventually surrendered to Dostum. A small group of armed foreign fighters were transferred to the 19th century prison fortress, Qala-i-Jangi. These hardcore jihadis used concealed weapons to start the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi against the Northern Alliance and British and American forces. The uprising was eventually was brought under control.

There were unproven allegations in 2001 that Dostum’s men, who were fighting the Taliban alongside the US Special Forces, intentionally suffocated as many as 2,000 prisoners in container trucks following the Taliban surrender of Kunduz in an incident that has become known as the Dasht-i-Leili massacre. Dostum however, strongly denies the allegations according to his official website.

Early life

Dostum was born in Khvajeh Do Kuh, Afghanistan. In 1970 he began to work in a state-owned gas refinery in Sheberghan, Jowzjan Province, participating in union politics, as the new government started to arm the staff of the workers in the oil and gas refineries. The reason for this was to create "groups for the defense of the revolution". Because of the new communist ideas entering Afghanistan in the 1970s, he enlisted in the army in 1978. Dostum received his basic military training in Jalalabad. His squadron was deployed in the rural areas around Sheberghan, under the auspices of the Ministry of National Security.

By the mid-1980s his platoon had grown in stature, reaching company status. By the mid-1980s he was in command of over 20,000 militia and was considered to be equivalent to a regimental commander. While the unit recruited throughout Jowzjan and had a relatively broad base, many of its early troops and commanders came from Dostum’s home village, Khoja Dukoh. These represented the core of the unit both at that juncture and again when it was reconstituted after the American Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He left the army after the purge of Parchamis, but returned after the Soviet occupation began.