Ismail Khan

From Academic Kids

Ismail Khan (b. 1946) was the governor of Herat province, Afghanistan. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan of 1979, Khan was an officer in the Afghanistan army, reaching the rank of Mujahedin commander. He has been described as "shrewd, short, and with an elfin smile." His human rights record as governor is said to be decent when compared to other governors, although his record is reportedly still terrible. However, after the airing in January 2004 on television of women singing, Khan sided with the Afghan Supreme Court opinion that such broadcasts should be banned.

After becoming governor of Herat the first time, he was forced to flee to Iran after the Taliban took over authority in 1996. Two years later, while organising opposition to the Taliban, he was handed over to the Taliban by old adversaries. Then in March 2000 he escaped and worked as a low-profile member of the Northern Alliance.

During the Afghan Transitional Administration, Khan was military commander of western Afghanistan, until August 13, 2003 when President Hamid Karzai decreed that officials could no longer hold both military and civil posts. In September 2004 he was also removed from the post of governor for Herat province; although Khan was offered the post of minister of mines and industry in the central government, he declined. Several people were reportedly killed during protests against his removal.

He boasts a provincial army of 25,000 men.

On March 21, 2004, an assassination attempt against Khan, allegedly ordered by General Abdul Zaher Nayebzadah, was reported to have failed. Shortly thereafter, Mirwais Sadeq — Khan's son and Afghanistan's civil aviation minister — was killed by Nayebzadah's forces, and severe fighting broke out between the two factions in Herat. After hours of fighting in which about 100 people were reported killed, Khan's forces claimed to be once again in control of the city.

Khan is one of the most religiously conservative warlords. He was slower than other leaders in lifting the restrictions imposed by the Taliban, and has retained many of them. Some of his men have been known to carry out "virginity tests", in Herat's public areas, on women found walking alone. He is widely suspected of withholding much of the customs duties collected at the Iranian border from the central government. Khan maintains close ties with the Iranian government.

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