In 1992-96, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf was a “factional leader who controlled interior ministry, whose soldiers committed atrocities, operated training camps and welcomed Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan from Sudan” under the U.S.-supported Mujahedeen warlord government that drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Nowadays, the same Abdul Rasul Sayyaf serves as a key advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
One August day in 2004, when I was having breakfast with Hamid Karzai on the lush green lawns of the presidential palace in Kabul, he described Sayyaf as an ideologue in a way that sounded complimentary. But Sayyaf is a vicious man, whose followers have carried out unspeakable atrocities and horrific massacres of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras.
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf inspires violence in others: Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine terrorist organization, was named for him by its founder, Abdurajak Janjalani. Janjalani was a disciple and a student of Sayyaf’s who received military training from him. The Indonesian Mohammed Nasir Bin Abbas, alias Solaiman, who was arrested in Indonesia in April 2003, was trained under Sayyaf between 1987 and 1991. Bin Abbas used the terrorist training he received from Sayyaf to set up Camp Hodeibia in the Philippines, according to Maria Ressa’s account in Seeds of Terror (New York: 2003). This camp was later taken over by Umar Patek, an Indonesian who has been implicated in the 2002 bombing on the resort island of Bali in which more than 200 people were killed.