Khairullah Khairkhwa

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Khairullah Khairkhwa
Khirullah Khairkhwa.jpg
In this identity portrait Khairullah Khairkhwa wears the tan uniform issued to compliant captives while detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Minister of the Interior
In office
Personal details
Born 1967 Kandahar, Afghanistan
Political party Taliban
Religion Islam (Deobandi)[1]
Military service
Allegiance Flag of Taliban.svg Taliban
Years of service 1994-2001
Battles/wars Afghan civil war
War in Afghanistan

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa is a Taliban official and former governor of Herat. He was held in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba.[2] He was released in late May 2014 in a prisoner exchange that involved Bowe Bergdahl and the Taliban five.[3] Press reports have referred to him as "Mullah" and "Maulavi", two different honorifics for referring to senior Muslim clerics.[4][5][6][7][8]

Khairkhwa was directly associated with Osama Bin Laden and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar.[9]

Early life[edit]

American intelligence analysts estimate that Khairkhwa was born in 1967 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is a Popalzai from Arghestan in Kandahar province.[10] He studied religious topics at the Haqqaniya and Akhora Khattak madrassas in Pakistan, together with other influential Taliban leaders.[10]

He held various government posts, both before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, including a police official in Kabul, and finally, Governor of Herat Province.[4][11]

Khirullah was one of the original Taliban members who launched the movement in 1994.[10]

Khairullah Khairkhwah was the Minister of the Interior under Taliban rule in 1997 and 1998. The Deputy Minister was Mohammed Khaksar.[12]

Some reports have said he had been the Taliban's deputy minister of the interior, interim minister of the interior, the minister of the interior, and the Minister of Information.[5][7] Khirullah was also to serve as the Taliban's Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesman, giving interviews to the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America.

Khirullah Khairkhwa arrived at Guantanamo on May 1, 2002, and has been held there for 13 years and 5 days.[13][14][15]

In early 2011 president Hamid Karzai demanded his release and Hekmat Karzai, the director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul said "His release will be influential to the peace process," and that "Mr Khairkhwa is well respected amongst the Taliban and was considered a moderate by those who knew him".[16][17]

Release negotiations[edit]

Throughout the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012 the United States conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban, and widely leaked was that a key sticking point was the ongoing detention of Khairkhwa and four other senior Taliban, Norullah Noori, Mohammed Fazl, Abdul Haq Wasiq.[18][19][20][21] Negotiations hinged around sending the five men directly to Doha, Qatar, where they would be allowed to set up an official office for the Taliban.

In March 2012 it was reported that Ibrahim Spinzada, described as "Karzai's top aide" had spoken with the five men, in Guantanamo, earlier that month, and had secured their agreement to be transferred to Qatar.[21] It was reported that Karzai, who had initially opposed the transfer, now backed the plan. It was reported that US officials stated the Obama administration had not yet agreed to transfer the five men.


Khairkhwa and the other four members of the Taliban five were flown to Qatar and released on June 1, 2014. Simultaneously U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released in eastern Afghanistan. Khairkhwa was required to spend the next year in Qatar, a condition of his and the other Taliban members, release.[22]


  1. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  2. ^ "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2006-05-15. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl freed in Afghanistan". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  4. ^ a b "Taliban blames foes of killing mine-clearers". Independent Online. 2000-08-07. The Taliban Governor in the province, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, has blamed the opposition Northern Alliance for the attack, saying the assailants have been arrested. The oppositions reaction was not immediately available. 
  5. ^ a b Letta Tayler (2002-01-01). "Jewish men share faith, hatred in Kabul". Chicago Tribune. p. 4. 
  6. ^ "Afghanistan's Taliban, opposition both claim gains". CNN. 1997-07-31. 
  7. ^ a b Kaswar Klasra (2010-01-26). "UN seeks to drop some Taliban leaders". The Nation (Pakistan). 
  8. ^ "Eight dead in Afghan blast". BBC News. 2001-05-04. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Jeffrey Dressler; Isaac Hock (6 April 2012). "Releasng Taliban detainees: A misguided path to peace" (PDF). Understanding War. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Red Cross: Families ID detainees in list". USA Today. 2006-04-20. 
  12. ^ Mohammad Khaksar
  13. ^ JTF-GTMO (2007-03-16). "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Department of Defense. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  mirror
  14. ^ "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ordered and consolidated version)" (PDF). Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, from DoD data. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-21. 
  15. ^ Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  16. ^ Nordland, Rod (2011-02-08). "Karzai Calls for Release of Taliban Official From Guantánamo". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ "Rebranding the Taliban". Al Jazeera. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2012-03-12. On March 28, the Federal District Court in Washington, DC, will hear a case on behalf of Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former high-ranking Taliban official who has been held at Guantanamo Bay for the past eight years.  mirror
  18. ^ M K Bhadrakumar (2012-01-10). "There's more to peace than Taliban". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-01-11. Nevertheless, Iranian media insist that three high-ranking Taliban leaders have been released - Mullah Khairkhawa, former interior minister; Mullah Noorullah Noori, a former governor; and Mullah Fazl Akhund, the Taliban's chief of army staff - in exchange for an American soldier held by the Taliban. 
  19. ^ "Guantanamo Taliban inmates 'agree to Qatar transfer'". BBC News. 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2012-03-12. If the president pursues this strategy, though, he will need support from wary politicians in Congress, our correspondent says. Many there see a transfer of what they call the most dangerous inmates at Guantanamo as a step too far, he adds.  mirror
  20. ^ Rahim Faiez, Anne Gearan (2012-03-12). "Taliban prisoners at Guantánamo OK transfer". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2012-03-12. Five top Taliban leaders held by the U.S. in the Guantánamo Bay military prison told a visiting Afghan delegation they agree to a proposed transfer to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, opening the door for a possible move aimed at bringing the Taliban into peace talks, Afghan officials said Saturday.  mirror
  21. ^ a b Hamid Shalizi (2012-03-10). "Taliban Guantanamo detainees agree to Qatar transfer - official". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-03-12. Karzai's top aide, Ibrahim Spinzada, visited the Guantanamo facility this week to secure approval from the five Taliban prisoners to be moved to Qatar.  mirror
  22. ^ "American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is now free". MSNBC. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 

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