Abdul Haq comes from a prominent family in the vicinity of Kabul. He entered the ring at age 16, fighting the communists. Over many years he became one of the most charismatic resistance leaders in the war. He was also a hotshot, a blowhard, a self-promoter, and an adventurer. Had he lived six months longer he would have been president.
Since the Soviets controlled only the roads and urban areas, small bands of mountain guerillas were never much more than a nuisance. To drive the Soviets out, somebody had to take the war to the big towns. Haq organized an urban guerilla band in Kabul, killing Russians and blowing up infrastructure. This group grew to have hundreds of members and had its greatest success when they blew up an ammunition dump that filled the sky with fireworks for over 20 minutes. Haq’s men were terrorists and insurgents attempting to destabilize a government. Maybe that regime was godless, repressive, and the puppet of foreigners, but the fact remains that the United States found it right and proper to back international Islamic terror when we thought it would hurt our enemies.
Najibullah, the communist government’s head of intelligence, worked at destroying Haq’s urban organization. He must have succeeded because by the time the mujahideen captured Kabul, Haq did not have the men left to be a major player in the new government. An urban resistance may have been dangerous to the regime, but it was also more vulnerable than mountain troops.
Haq left Afghanistan to build a business in Dubai in 1992. Seven years later an attempt to return and dislodge the Taliban ended with the murder of his wife and child. After 9-11 it was obvious that the United States was going to invade. With a reputation untarnished by atrocities, English-speaking and famously brave, Haq was the United States first choice to lead a liberated Afghanistan. But Haq was no longer the spry and plugged-in teenager of the 1980s. Slowed by excess weight, missing a foot from a land mine, and out of touch with the current players, he rode into Afghanistan on horseback to pry some commanders away from Mullah Omar. He lasted only a few weeks before the Taliban captured, hanged, and shot him as they had Najibullah years before, a pointless bad end for one of the most respected captains of the mujahideen generation.