Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil

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Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil
Foreign Minister of Afghanistan
In office
1999 – October 2001
Preceded byMullah Mohammad Hassan
Personal details
Born1971 (age 48–49)
Political partyTaliban

Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil Abdul Ghaffar (born 1971) is a politician in Afghanistan. He was the last Foreign Minister in the Taliban government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[2] Prior to this, he served as spokesman and secretary to Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban. After the Northern Alliance, accompanied by U.S. and British forces, ousted the regime, Muttawakil surrendered in Kandahar to government troops.

In 2005, he announced that he would be a candidate in the elections for the House of the People.

Early life[edit]

Muttawakil is originally from Keshkinakhud in Maywand District, Kandahar Province. He is not known for being a mujahed in the 1980s Soviet invasion, but his father, Abdul Ghafar Barialai, is an extremely famous Pashto poet in southern Afghanistan and was killed during Taraki's rule. He belongs to the Kakar tribe.[3]

Reported warning of 9/11 attack[edit]

According to the BBC, Tohir Yo'ldosh (leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) learned, prior to the attacks, that al Qaeda was planning to use hijacked airliners to attack the United States on September 11, 2001.[4] The BBC reported that Yo'ldosh then informed the Taliban's Foreign Minister, Muttawakil, who sent an envoy to warn the USA of al Qaeda's attack plans prior to September 11, 2001. The reason the BBC offered for Yo'ldosh to initiate an advance warning to the USA of the attacks was that he was concerned that an al Qaeda attack on the USA would trigger an American counter-attack, which would imperil the safe haven his group had been enjoying in Afghanistan.

Defection from the Taliban[edit]

In October 2001, the month following al Qaeda's attacks in the USA, Muttawakil was reported to be in Pakistan.[5] According to the BBC some rumors said he was trying to negotiate an end to the American aerial bombardment of Afghanistan; that he was suggesting the Taliban hand over Bin Laden. Muttawakil was reported to have had a 90-minute meeting with Lieutenant General Ehsan ul Haq, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He was rumored to have asked General Haq to lobby United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, that an American ceasefire would allow moderate elements within the Taliban, like Muttawakil, to push Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar to abandon Bin Laden.

On Monday October 15, 2001, it was reported that Muttawakil had arrived in the United Arab Emirates in order to defect from the Taliban.[5] UAE officials denied this report.

Surrender confirmed[edit]

The BBC confirmed that Muttawakil had surrendered, after two weeks of negotiation, in early February 2002.[6][7] Abdullah Abdullah, the minister who held the same portfolio in Hamid Karzai's Afghan Transitional Authority as Muttawakil had held under the Taliban, stated that Muttawakil should stand trial for war crimes.


Fazal Mohammad, detained on suspicion of being a former Taliban commander, was released from American custody for medical reasons in mid-2002.[8]

  • He reported that he had been held in American custody in Kandahar with about 300 other captives, including Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, and two of his former deputies, Maulawi Khirullah Khairkhwa, and Abdul Hai Mutmaen.
  • He reported that they were fed starvation rations, and their wounds were left untreated.
  • He reported that captives were subjected to sexual abuse, and attacks from dogs.

The BBC reported, on Wednesday, October 8, 2003, that Muttawakil had recently been released from eighteen months of detention in Bagram, and had returned to his family's home in Kandahar.[9] Muttawakil is reported to have said:

I'm good, the police provide security for me, some police forces are guarding my house.

On Monday, July 4, 2005 the BBC reported that Muttawakil spent the three years after his surrender in US detention and under Afghan house arrest.[10] Following the end of his house arrest Muttawakil took positions at odds with those of the former Taliban regime. He said he no longer opposed female education, so long as it was consistent with Afghan culture. And he said that supporting Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda had brought suffering to Afghanistan. But he still defended some other aspects of the Taliban's former policies.

Disowned by the Taliban[edit]

On Tuesday October 21, 2003, the Taliban disowned Muttawakil.[11] The BBC was told by a Taliban spokesman that Muttawakil "does not represent our will".

In 2003, Muttawakil's location and status was a matter for speculation.[11] The BBC reported that he had been released from detention from the United States Bagram Theater Detention Facility.

The BBC also reports that the US was guarding him, for his own protection, at their base in Kandahar.[11] They report that aides to Muttawakil assert that the USA has given Muttawakil two choices: join the Karzai government as a spokesman and adviser to the Afghan president; or seek political asylum in a Western country. However, the aides said, Muttawakil wanted to take a break from involvement in Afghan politics, and, if he were to seek asylum, he would wish to do so in an Arab country.


Muttawakil ran for parliamentary elections in September 2005.[10][12]

W.A. Muttawakil's brother Maulvi Jalil Ahmed was for six years a Muslim cleric in the city of Quetta, Pakistan. He was killed during a shooting incident in Quetta in July 2005.[10]

Move to Kabul[edit]

An article in the German publication Der Spiegel, on April 12, 2007, about the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, said he had moved into a "...handsome guest house, located in the dusty modern neighborhood Khosh Hal Khan."[13] The article goes on to state that the new home Karzai's government has provided Zaeef is around the corner from Muttawakil's. Der Spiegel described Zaeef's home as being guarded, inside and out, by a heavily armed security detail. Like Muttawakil, Zaeef is regarded as one of the more moderate former members of the Taliban.

Saudi peace talks[edit]

During Ramadan, 2008, there were rumors that Saudi King Abdullah was attempting to broker peace talks between the warring parties from Afghanistan.[14] Muttawakil, former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salem Zaeef and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Fazel Hadi Shinwari were among leading Afghan figures who met with King Abdullah.

Zaeef acknowledged being invited by Saudi King Abdullah to dine with other leading Afghan figures, from the Karzai government, the Taliban, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami and other former members of the Taliban.[14] Zaeef denied this meeting should be characterized as "peace talks". He stated that none of the individuals at this meeting had been authorized to conduct negotiations. Zaeef denied anyone discussed Afghanistan at this meeting.


In 1999, the UN Security Council established a sanctions regime to cover individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and/or the Taliban. Since the US Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the sanctions were applied to individuals and organizations in all parts of the world, also targeting former members of the Taliban government. Muttawakil was added to this list in 2001[citation needed].

On January 27, 2010, a United Nations sanctions committee removed him as well as four other former senior Taliban officials from this list, in a move favoured by Afghan President Karzai. The decision means he and the four others would no longer be subject to an international travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  2. ^ "Profile: Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil". BBC. February 9, 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  3. ^ An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan. Oxford University Press. 2012. p. 494.
  4. ^ Kate Clark (2002-09-07). "Taleban 'warned US of huge attack'". BBC. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2007-01-16. An aide to the former Taleban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, has revealed that he was sent to warn American diplomats and the United Nations that Osama bin Laden was due to launch a huge attack on American soil.
  5. ^ a b "Taleban minister's 'peace role' mystery". BBC. October 17, 2001. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  6. ^ "Karzai frees 300 Taleban soldiers". BBC. February 9, 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  7. ^ "U.S. begins questioning Taliban foreign minister". CBC News. February 10, 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  8. ^ "Taliban prisoner claims sex abuse in Afghan jail". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. July 28, 2002. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  9. ^ "Confusion over 'freed' Taleban figure". BBC. October 8, 2003. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  10. ^ a b c "Ex-Taleban chief's brother killed". BBC. July 4, 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  11. ^ a b c "Taleban 'turn on ex-minister'". BBC. October 21, 2003. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  12. ^ "Ex-Taleban chief to run in polls". BBC. May 18, 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  13. ^ Olaf Ihlau (April 12, 2007). "Ex-Taliban Official Calls for Unity Government in Afghanistan". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  14. ^ a b "Taliban and Afghan officials break bread". The Age. 2008-10-07. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  15. ^ "U.N. Reconciles itself to Five Members of Mulla Omar’s Cabinet"