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Mujahideen and anti-Taliban groups 1980s-2001 (Afghanistan)

Last modified: 2015-02-21 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | northern alliance | unidentified flag |
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Many people in northern Afghanistan (ethnic Uzbeks, Tadjiks) did not support the Taliban. In 1991 general-colonel Abdul Rashid Dostum created an anti-Taliban division. In 1992 he and Ahmad-shah Massood created the government of North Afghanistan and the People's Muslim Movement of Afghanistan. (...)
Victor Lomantsov
, 5 April 2001

I think that black-red-green flags were used by different factions of today's Northern Alliance as their party flags. Thus they were not flags of North Afghanistan — which, naturally, does not exist as a political unit. After re-unification of all anti-Taleban parties, they became to (re)use the national flag (green-white-black).
Jan Zrzavy
, 9 October 2001

I agree with Jan Zrzavy's statement, that Dostum's North Afghanistan flag was most probably only the flag of one of the main factions of the Northern Alliance, the Uzbeks under Dostum. (...) The other main faction of the Northern Alliance (the Tadjiks) was headed by Ahmed Shah Massood. We have seen the use of the green-white-black national flag of 1992 as their flag (with variations, though). As the internationally recognized government (until 22 December 2001 at least) was headed by Burhanuddin Rabbani, another Tadjik, it is not surprising that the Tadjik faction used this flag.

So most probably there had been at least two flags used by the Northern Alliance, at least for some time. If they agreed on a common flag at a later date, is in my opinion unclear. It is also unclear, if other factions of the Northern Alliance (e.g. the Hazara) used their own flags.
Marcus Schmöger
, 19 December 2001

Journalist Christophe de Pontilly, who is authoritative on Afghan matters and was a close friend of the late Commandant Massood, explained on France-Inter, 14 October 2002, that the name Northern Alliance was absolutely erroneous and was never coined by Massood. The real name of Massood's movement was United National Front for the Salute of Afghanistan. Northern Alliance is particularly unsuitable since Massood's movement was not restricted to the north of the country. Moreover, the often claimed opposition between Massood in the north and the Talibans in the south is an oversimplification of the situation.
Ivan Sache
, 14 October 2002

The coalition of forces that became known as Northern Alliance (the main force opposing the Taliban and later al-Qaeda, but not the only one) (colloquially known as Afghan Northern Alliance, officially known as the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Persian: ‏جبهه متحد اسلامی ملی برای نجات افغانستان‎ Jabha-yi Muttahid-i Islāmi-yi Millī barā-yi Nijāt-i Afghānistān) was actually set up by several factions that had been battling the Communist regime established in 1978, and together joined forces in order to fight the Taliban since September 1996.

The Mujahideen were originally guerrilla forces that were against the Soviet intervention in the Afghanistan Civil War, but when the Soviets left in 1989, the war still continued until the Taliban took over in 1996 and formally established a new State, with the core of Mujahideen now fighting against the Taliban (in the beginning the Mujahideen included several Taliban members, but when the new Islamic State was set up, the Mujahideen and the Taliban became opposition forces).

The Mujahideen (before the Taliban took control in 1996) were mainly two groups:
1. The Peshawar Seven (Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen, also known as the Seven Party Mujahideen Alliance) established in May 1985 and supported by Pakistan. The constituents of the Peshawar Seven alliance fell into two categories:
1.1 The political Islamists: Hezb-e-Islami (led by Mohammad Yunus Khalis), Hezbi Islami (led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar), Jamiat-i-Islami (led by Burhanuddin Rabbani), and Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan (led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf).
"Hezbi Islami (also Hezb-e Islami, Hezb-i-Islami, Hezbi-Islami, Hezb-e-Islami), meaning Islamic Party is an Islamist organization that was commonly known for fighting the Communist Government of Afghanistan and their close ally the Soviet Union. Founded and led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it was established in Afghanistan in 1975. It grew out of the Muslim Youth organization, an Islamist organization founded in Kabul by students and teachers at Kabul University in 1969 to combat communism in Afghanistan. Its membership was drawn from ethnic Pashtuns, and its ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood and Abul Ala Maududi's Jamaat-e-Islami. Another source describes it as having splintered away from Burhanuddin Rabbani's original Islamist party, Jamiat-e Islami, in 1976, after Hekmatyar found that group too moderate and willing to compromise with others. Hezbi Islami seeks to emulate the Ikhwan militia of Saudi Arabia and to replace the various tribal factions of Afghanistan with one unified Islamic state. This puts them at odds with the more tribe-oriented Taliban. Later on there was a split, evolving into the Hezb-e Islami (حزب اسلامی گلبدین‎) (Gulbuddin), or Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, HIG, established in 1977 (flag seen here: and the Hezb-e Islami (Khalis), or Hezb-e Islami Khalis (, HIK, established in 1979 (at some point the HIG was considered a terrorist organization for their attacks against CPA forces during the occupation of Afghanistan.

1.2 The traditionalists: National Islamic Front for Afghanistan (led by Ahmed Gailani), Afghanistan National Liberation Front (led by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi), and Revolutionary Islamic Movement (led by Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi). All of the groups were Sunni Muslims, and all were majority Pashtun except Jamiat-i-Islami, which was predominantly Tajik.

2. The Tehran Eight ( established in and supported by Iran:
Regarding the Northern Alliance (or The United Front), was a resistance force against the Taliban government by opposition factions. Since early 1999, Ahmad Shah Massoud was the only main leader able to defend his territory against the Taliban and as such remained as the main de facto political and military leader of the United Front recognized by members of all the different ethnic groups. Massoud decided on the main political line and the general military strategy of the alliance. A part of the United Front military factions such as Junbish-i Milli or Hezb-e Wahdat, however, did not fall under the direct control of Massoud but remained under their respective regional or ethnic leaders. Military commanders of the United Front were either independent or belonged to one of the following political parties:
- the Sunni Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e Islami ( led by Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani (currently a major political party)
- the Sunni Uzbek and Turkmen-dominated Junbish-i Milli ( led by Abdul Rashid Dostum (flag seen here: (currently a major political party, official website:
- the Sunni Pashtun-dominated Eastern Shura ( led by Abdul Qadir (dubbed a collaborationist de facto regime as the result of surrender negotiations on November 13, 2001, between Younus Khalis and Osama bin Laden)
- the Shia Tajik and Hazara-dominated Harakat-e Islami ( led by Sayed Hussain Anwari (currently a political party, official website:
- the Shia Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat led by Mohammad Mohaqiq and Karim Khalili (currently a political party, official website:

At one point (or another) during the Afghanistan Civil War, there have (had) been other factions, such as:
- al-Qaida (led by Osama bin Laden)
- Haqqani Network (led by Jalaluddin Haqqani)
- Shura-e Nazar (an offshoot of Jamiat-i-Islami, led by Ahmad Shah Massoud)
- Ittihad-i Islami
- Harakat-i Inqilab
Sources: and
Esteban Rivera, 2 January 2015

Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin

[Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

I found three variants of flag of Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin, first one is plain green with its emblem.
Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

[Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

Second one is the same, but a its name is placed under its emblem.
Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

[Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

The third one has the inscription "Allahu Akhbar" added and placed over the emblem.
Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan

[National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

The emblem of National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan is not so oval as Wikipedia shows it, please compare it with these photos: and
Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

Hezb-e Wahdat

[Hezb-e Wahdat (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

Jamiat-e Islami

[Jamiat-e Islami (Afghanistan)] image by Zoltan Horvath, 3 January 2015

Unidentified Flag

[Unidentified Flag on a Warlord's Truck (Afghanistan)] image by Steve Stringfellow

I saw this flag flying (attached) on the front of a warlord truck in Afghanistan on CBS news 9 August 2002.
Steve Stringfellow
, 12 August 2002