Amrullah Saleh: The Fearless Messiah Standing Tall amidst Terror-Stricken Afghanistan

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While the entire Afghanistan had surrendered to the Taliban’s reign of terror, ‘forever spy’ Amrullah Saleh has stood tall enough to fight back from the Panjshir province. His voyage from a defense official in the Rabbani govt to spy chief and later vice-president of Afghanistan has been a journey of inspiration for people all around the world. 

He has been serving as the first vice president of Afghanistan since February 2020, served as the minister of Interior Affairs from 2018 to 2019, and as head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) from 2004 until his resignation in 2010.  

The dauntless Afghan knight has recently stirred the headlines yet again with his claim of presidential powers and duties, as acting president of Afghanistan since 17 August 2021. 

I will never, ever, and under no circumstances bow to the Talib terrorists 

Said the 49-year-old politician on August 15, 2021. 
A rebel from an early age 

Born on 15 October 1972, Amrullah Saleh was orphaned at a young age. Fostered under the former Afghan guerilla commander of the resistance, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Saleh joined the movement at the young age of 22. 

Saleh’s detestation of the Taliban dates back to 1996 when his sister was tortured to death by their fighters.  

My view of the Taliban changed forever because of what happened in 1996, 

Saleh had written in a magazine editorial. 

Prior to heading the Afghan intelligence, in 1997, Saleh was appointed by Massoud to serve as Northern Alliance’s liaison office inside the Afghan Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In 1999, by which time the Taliban had taken over, restricting the Northern Alliance to Panjshir and northern Afghanistan, Massoud sent him to the US to be trained by the CIA. He became a key asset of the CIA and led intelligence operations of the United Front on the ground to topple the Taliban regime. 

After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Saleh participated in leading intelligence operations of the United Front on the ground during the toppling of the Taliban regime. He was also an interpreter for an NGO in Pakistan when the war broke out in 2001. 

On September 10, 2001, a day after Massoud’s assassination, Saleh told the CIA points person, 

The decision is that we will fight… we will not surrender. We will fight to our last man on the ground. 

Tussle with the Hamid Karzai Government 

In December 2004, Saleh was appointed as head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) by the then President Hamid Karzai. He was serving as one of the finest pillars of the NDS since then. 

However, following the 2009 Afghan presidential election, Afghan President Karzai’s views about the security issues confronting Afghanistan and how best to deal with them reportedly changed. This affected the working relationship between the President of Afghanistan and his intelligence chief, Saleh. Saleh had said,  

He [Karzai] thought democracy had hurt him as a person. His family had been attacked by the media unfairly, and the West was criticizing him unfairly. So after a presidential election, he was a changed man, and we could not have the same relationship as before the presidential election. 

On June 6 2010, Saleh resigned as intelligence chief from the NDS after a militant attack against the National Peace Jirga. Due to the growing disputes with the Hamid Karzai Government, in 2011, Saleh even launched a peaceful campaign and became a harsh critic of the President’s policies, particularly in dealing with the security situation and even accused him of corruption.  

Subsequently, he created one of the strongest Afghan pro-democracy and anti-Taliban movement called Basej-e-Milli (National Mobilization) and Afghanistan Green Trend (AGT), with about 20,000 of his supporters rallying against the Taliban in Kabul in 2011.  

The maiden Vice-President of Afghanistan 

Amrullah continued to be part of the Northern Alliance resistance till the 9/11 attack in the US and the entry of America in the Afghan war. 

In March 2017, he was appointed as State Minister for Security Reforms by President Ashraf Ghani. However, Saleh, the then state minister for security reforms, in June, 2017 resigned from his position. Saleh who was previously serving as the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) made his surprise announcement after having been appointed to the post in March 2017.  

In December 2018, he was appointed as the Interior Minister by Ghani, later resigning to join Ghani’s election team, with the successful campaign making Saleh the First Vice President of Afghanistan. 

In February 2020, he rose to become the country’s Vice President.  

The frontline leader in Panjshir Province 

Following the fall of Kabul under the control of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, Ashref Ghani’s fled the country and Saleh relocated into the Panjshir Valley. There, two days after Taliban take over, the toppled government’s vice president has declared himself the legitimate ‘caretaker’ president of Afghanistan.  

The day before, Saleh had tweeted this, both in English and Pashto: 

In my soil. With the people. For a cause and purpose. With solid belief in righteousness. Opposing Pak backed oppression and brutal dictatorship is our legitimacy. 

Amrullah Saleh further reached out to all leaders of Afghanistan to unify and fight the Taliban. He had also announced the formation of an anti-Taliban front, along with Ahmad Massoud and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. 

But with Panjshir falling to the Taliban, Saleh’s whereabouts remain unknown. While his supporters say he is still in Panjshir, others claim that he has escaped to Tajikistan, along with Ahmad Massoud, the 32-year-old son of his mentor, the late Ahmad Shah Massoud. 

His last tweet, on September 3, five days before Panjshir fell, reads:  

Resistance is the nom de guerre of everyone here. RESISTANCE. 

Many believe Saleh, the last man standing against the Taliban, has only made a tactical retreat to fight another day. 

What the of late headlines say 

The Taliban have recently executed the brother of the Afghan leader, his nephew said on Friday. Shuresh Saleh said his uncle Rohullah Azizi was going somewhere in a car Thursday when Taliban fighters stopped him at a checkpoint.  

As we hear at the moment Taliban shot him and his driver at the checkpoint.  

he said. 
The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, has pledged to continue opposing the Taliban even after the fall of Panjshir’s provincial capital Bazarak. 

The most recent updates say the Taliban has ransacked the house of former Afghan vice-president and claimed they have seized up to six million dollars and about 15 bricks of gold in Panjshir province from the residence of Saleh. 

However, Saleh and the resistance front have not spoken on the issue yet. 

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