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Name of leader          Gulbuddin Hekmatyar


Organization                    Hezb-i-Islami

English Translation        Party of Islam


Conflict country              Afghanistan


Gender                              Male   


Year of birth                     1947[1]


Place of birth                   Imam Sahib District of the Kunduz province of northern Afghanistan[2]


Year of death                    N/A





No; he was reportedly shot in 2015,[3] but survived.[4]


Birth order


His birth order is unknown.


Age at start of rebel leadership


He became leader in 1975, so at age 28.[5]


Leader entry method


In 1975, he founded the Hezb-i-Islami.[6]




No, there is no evidence of powersharing.


Education (also name universities attended, if any); note any relevant experiences while a student


“After graduating from Sher Khan high school in Kunduz in 1968, Hekmatyar joined the Mahtab Qala military school in Kabul. Due to his political activities, however, he was expelled from the school two years later...From 1970 to 1972, Hekmatyar attended the engineering department at Kabul University, but after being implicated in the murder of Saydal Sukhandan from the pro-China Shola-e-Jawedan Movement, he was jailed by the government of King Zahir Shah. As a high school student, Hekmatyar was a member of the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) for four years. As a result of studying engineering at Kabul University, Hekmatyar’s communist ideology was also affected by an extremist version of Islam, and he joined the Muslim Youths Movement (Nahzat-e-Jawanane Musalman). While at Kabul University, Hekmatyar’s radicalism began to show its face: he was notorious for spraying acid on the university’s female students. Hekmatyar’s followers addressed him as Engineer Hekmatyar even though he was unable to complete his degree as a result of spending almost two years in prison.”[7]            


Ever married? If yes, age of first marriage


Yes, he has two wives, but the age of his marriages is unknown.[8]




Yes, he has six daughters and three sons.[9]


Religious identification


He practiced Islam.[10]

Elite family background


No, there is no evidence he is from an elite family. [11]


Political affiliations and intellectual circles; note any relevant social connections made


In high school, Hekmatyar was a member of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Later he was expelled from military school for unspecified political activities and at Kabul University he was in the Muslim Youths Movement.[12]


Physical and mental health


No, there is no evidence of poor physical or mental health.


Pre-militant leader occupation


He was an activist, forming the organization after completing his education.


Experience in a state military, and role; any relevant social ties


No, there is no evidence of state military experience.


Experience in a nonstate military, and role; any relevant social ties


Yes, there is experience in a nonstate military as a campaign in the dataset has already been led by Hekmatyar.


Combat experience prior to assuming resistance organization leadership?


No, there is no evidence of combat experience.


Held government position prior to assuming leadership?


No, there is no evidence he held a government position.


Lived in exile?


Yes, he fled Afghanistan after the Daoud coup in 1973 and in 1996 he fled to Iran while the Taliban controlled Afghanistan.[13]


Study abroad?


No, there is no evidence he studied abroad.


Did the leader receive military training abroad?


No, there is no evidence he received military training abroad.


Did the leader have extensive work experience abroad?


No, there is no evidence he had extensive work experience abroad.


Serve time in prison? Social connections during that time?


Yes, he was thrown in prison in 1972 after murdering someone in a rival movement. In 1973 he escaped to Pakistan.[14]


Was there an assassination attempt on the leader by the state?


No, there is no evidence of an assassination attempt by the state.


Cause of Death?


He was reportedly shot by three gunmen, but there is no clear evidence of death.[15]


Primary language, and other languages spoken as adult


He speaks Pashto and Dari.[16]



[1]Image Credit: Wikimedia. "File:Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, BBC Persian - Spe 28, 2019.jpg" Wikimedia Commons. Accessed September 12, 2021.,_BBC_Persian_-_Sep_28,_2019.jpg.

 “Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Return to the Afghan Insurgency," The Jamestown Foundation, Accessed February 13, 2017,

[2] Ibid.

[3]"AFGHANISTAN: GULBUDDIN HEKMATYAR REPORTEDLY SHOT DEAD | AP Archive," AP Archive, Accessed February 13, 2017,

[4] “Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returns to Kabul after 20 years, urges peace with Taliban,” FIRSTPOST, May 5, 2017, Accessed June 12, 2017,

[5] See f.n.1

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: From Holy Warrior to Wanted Terrorist,” The JamesTown Foundation, Accessed February 13, 2017,

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] John Lee Anderson, The Lion’s Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan (New York: Grove Press, 2002), 234.

[14] See f.n.1

[15] See f.n.3

[16] “Languages," Central Intelligence Agency, Accessed July 4, 2020,

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