Biography of Amrullah Saleh

Amrullah Saleh

by S. Ghilzai / Published on July 7, 2014

Amrullah Saleh is an Afghan politician who has worked under Ahmad Shah Massoud, as well as the Karzai government.

Amrullah Saleh was born in 1971, in the Panjshir province of Afghanistan, making him ethnically Tajik. Early in his youth, Saleh joined the United Front, headed by Ahmad Shah Massoud. He moved up in ranks, until Massoud himself appointed Saleh to command the international liaison office of the United Front in the Embassy of Afghanistan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

In 2004, after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Saleh was appointed by President Hamid Karzai to head the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Saleh replaced Muhammad Arif.

Since his mujahideen days, Saleh has been staunchly anti-Taliban, and has opposed making compromises with the group. According to many newspaper reports, Saleh and his team had found Bin Laden four years prior to the U.S finding and killing him. Saleh offered this information to Pakistan’s President at the time, Pervez Musharraf, who dismissed the claims, angrily. This controversy generated quite a bit of international media attention (later, it would be proven that Musharraf had known Bin Laden’s whereabouts, and had kept him safe).

In 2010, Saleh resigned from his position at the NDS, due to conflicting opinions with Karzai on the Taliban situation (specifically, Karzai’s efforts in peace-making with the group) and because Saleh felt he had lost Karzai’s trust due to an attack on the peace jirga.

Both in Afghanistan, and in the West, Saleh has been regarded as one of the only truly uncorrupt figures in Afghan politics.

Since his departure from the NDS, Saleh established his own political party called the Basej-e Millie, that started as a grassroots movement, supporting democracy, and opposing the Taliban. He has also been writing for Western and Afghan publications about the corruption in Karzai’s government, as well as what actions need to be taken by Afghanistan before the foreign military departure in 2014.