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Emblem of the KHAD during 1987–1992.

Khadamat-e Aetla'at-e Dawlati (Pashto/Persian 'خدمات اطلاعات دولتی') translates directly to English as: "State Intelligence Agency". However, this phrase is more precisely translated as "State Information Services". Khadamat-e Aetela'at-e Dawlati, almost always known by its acronym KHAD (or KhAD), is the main security agency and intelligence agency of Afghanistan, and also served as the secret police during the Soviet occupation. The successor to AGSA (Department for Safeguarding the Interests of Afghanistan) and KAM, KHAD was nominally part of the Afghan state, but it was firmly under the control of the Soviet KGB until 1989. In January 1986 its status was upgraded and it was thereafter officially known as the "Ministry of State Security" (Wizarat-i Amaniyyat-i Dawlati, or WAD).

After the December 1979 Soviet invasion, KAM was renamed and came under the control of the KGB. This was an agency specifically created for the suppression of the Democratic Republic's internal opponents. However, KHAD has continued to operate after the fall of the Soviet backed government in 1992 and acted as the intelligence arm of the United Front or "Northern Alliance" during the civil war in Afghanistan (1992-1996).


  • Directors of KHAD and its predecessors 1
  • Organization 2
  • Political factions 3
  • Involvement in the civil war 4
  • Human rights abuses 5
  • Notes 6

Directors of KHAD and its predecessors

No. Organization Director Took office Left office Political party
01 AGSA Assadullah Sarwari April 1978 September 1979 PDPAKhalq
02 KAM Asadullah Amin September 1979 December 1979 PDPAKhalq
03 KhAD Mohammad Najibullah 11 January 1980 21 November 1985 PDPAParcham
04 KhAD-WAD Ghulam Faruq Yaqubi 6 December 1985 16 April 1992 PDPAParcham
05 WAD Osman Sultani 16 April 1992 28 April 1992 PDPAParcham
06 WAD General Hesamuddin April 1992 December 2004 United Front


Little is known of its internal organization and most of its records were either destroyed by the Taliban (along with its headquarters) or were taken to Moscow by the KGB (particularly ones which outlined membership, informants, and assignments with Soviet or KGB personnel) where they remain classified to this day. KHAD's system of informers and operatives extended into virtually every aspect of Afghan life, especially in the government-controlled urban areas. Aside from its secret police work, KHAD supervised ideological education at schools and colleges, ran a special school for war orphans, and recruited young men for the militia.

Its importance to Moscow was reflected in the fact that it was chiefly responsible for the training of a new generation of Afghans who would be loyal to the Soviet Union. Another important area was work with tribes and ethnic minorities. KHAD collaborated with the Ministry of Nationalities and Tribal Affairs to foster support for the regime in the countryside. KHAD also directed its attention to Afghanistan's Hindu and Sikh religious minorities.

KHAD was also responsible for co-opting religious leaders. It funded an official body known as the Religious Affairs Directorate and recruited pro-regime ulama and mosque attendants to spy on worshipers.

Some sources give 60% of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan's membership as belonging to the armed forces, Sarandoy, or KHAD.

Political factions

KHAD also had a political role that was clearly unintended by the Soviets. It was initially headed by Mohammad Najibullah, until he became President of Afghanistan in 1986. Najibullah and other high officials were Parchamis. As head of the KHAD apparatus, Najibullah was also extremely powerful.

Consequently, KHAD evolved into a Parchami stronghold, equally zealous in the suppression of enemies of the revolution. Thus, KHAD was zealous in suppressing Khalqis in the government and in the armed forces.

There was a bitter rivalry between Najibullah and Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoi. Gulabzoi, a Khalq sympathizer, was Minister of the Interior and commander of Sarandoy ("Defenders of the Revolution"), the national gendarmerie. Gulabzoi was one of the few prominent Khalqis remaining in office in a Parcham-dominated regime.

In late 1985, Najibullah was promoted to be a secretary on the PDPA Central Committee; in this capacity he may be able to exercise party authority over all security organs, including those attached to the Khalq-dominated defense and interior ministries. It was assumed to be a reward for the efficiency and ruthlessness of the secret police, which was in sharp contrast to the performance of the poorly trained and demoralized armed forces.

Involvement in the civil war

In the mid-1980s, KHAD enjoyed a formidable measure of autonomy in relation to other Afghan state institutions.

KHAD reportedly had some success in penetrating the leadership councils of several resistance groups, most of which were headquartered in Pakistan. By the mid-1980s KHAD had gained a fearsome reputation as the eyes, ears, and scourge of the regime. Its influence was pervasive and its methods lawless. KHAD's activities reached beyond the borders of Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan and Iran.

After establishment of Karzai government in 2001, KHAD was reestablished and Gen. Arif of the Northern Alliance became its chief. KHAD was directly controlled by the defense minister Mohammed Fahim, who previously controlled it from 1992 until the Taliban took Kabul in 1996. There are some complains that KHAD was used as a tool against opponents by the Northern Alliance.

Human rights abuses

KHAD was also accused of human rights abuses in the mid-1980s.[1][2] These included the use of torture, the use of predetermined "show trials" to dispose of political prisoners, and widespread arbitrary arrest and detention. Secret trials and the execution of prisoners without trial were also common.

It was especially active and aggressive in the urban centers, especially in Kabul. Organizations such as Amnesty International continued to publish detailed reports of KHAD's use of torture and of inhumane conditions in the country's prisons and jails.[3]

KHAD also operated eight detention centers in the capital, which were located at KHAD headquarters, at the Ministry of the Interior headquarters, and at a location known as the Central Interrogation Office. The most notorious of the Communist-run detention centers was Pul-e-Charkhi prison, where 27,000 political prisoners is thought to be murdered.[4][5] Recently mass graves of executed prisoners have been uncovered dating back to the Soviet era.[6]

On 29 February 2000, when The Netherlands had no diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a disputed report on the involvement of the KHAD in the human rights abuses, partly based on secret sources, allegedly biased political sycophants from the side of the Taliban and the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. Some of its conclusions were already published in the Dutch press before the official publication of the full report.[7] This report, quoted frequently in the cases of Afghan asylum seekers to support the exclusion ground of article 1F of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in the national refugee policy of the Netherlands, was also published in an English translation on 26 April 2001.[8] In 2008 another report on this matter was published by the UNHCR. In this report some conclusions of the Dutch report were contested.[9]

On October 14, 2005, the District Court in the Hague convicted two high-ranking KhAD officers who sought asylum in the Netherlands in the 1990s. Hesamuddin Hesam and Habibullah Jalalzoy were found guilty of complicity to torture and violations of the laws and customs of war, committed in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Hesam was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He was the head of the military intelligence service, the KhAD-e-Nezamy and deputy minister of the Ministry of State Security (WAD). Jalalzoy was the head of the unit investigations and interrogations within the military intelligence of the KhAD. He was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.[10] On January 29, 2007, the Dutch appeal court upheld the sentences.[11] The judgements were confirmed by the Dutch Supreme Court on July 10, 2008.[12] On June 25, 2007, the District Court in the Hague acquitted another senior KhAD officer. General Abdullah Faqirzada was one of the deputy heads of the KhAD-e-Nezamy from 1980 until 1987. Although the court held it plausible that Faqirzada was closely involved with the human rights abuses in the military branche of the KhAD, it concluded there was no evidence for his individual involvement nor his command responsibility for the specific crimes the charge was based upon.[13] On July 16, 2009, the Dutch appeal court upheld the acquittal.[14]


  1. ^ Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979–1982 M. Hassan Kakar. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1995. ISBN 0-520-20893-5 KhAD as an Agency of Suppression
  2. ^ also according to a disputed General Report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, 29 February 2000, English translation 2001 Security services in Communist Afghanistan (1978–1992) AGSA, KAM, KhAD and WAD [1]
  3. ^ The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World By Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin. Basic Books, 2005. ISBN 0-465-00311-7 p. 408
  4. ^ Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Robert D. Kaplan. Vintage, 2001. ISBN 1-4000-3025-0 p.115
  5. ^ Kabul's prison of death BBC, February 27, 2006
  6. ^ In pictures: Afghan mass grave BBC, July 5, 2007
  7. ^ in daily newspaper Trouw on 29 November 1999, p. 3, article by Ruut Verhoeven "Afghanistan: niemand kon zich onttrekken aan beulswerk"
  8. ^ Security services in Communist Afghanistan (1978–1992) AGSA, KAM, KhAD and WADMinistry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands,
  9. ^ , May 2008Note on the Structure and Operation of the KhAD/WAD in Afghanistan 1978–1992UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  10. ^ Rechtbank ’s-Gravenhage, parketnummer 09/751005-04, Oktober 14, 2005.
  11. ^ Gerechtshof ’s-Gravenhage, parketnummer 09/751005-04, rolnummer 22-006132-05, and Gerechtshof ’s-Gravenhage, parketnummers 09-751004-04 en 09-750006-05, rolnummer 22-006131-05, January 29, 2007.
  12. ^ More information in English at "The Hague Justice Portal
  13. ^ Rechtbank ’s-Gravenhage, parketnummer 09/750001-06, June 25, 2007.
  14. ^ Gerechtshof ’s-Gravenhage, parketnummer 09/750001-06, rolnummer 22-004581-07, July 16, 2009.
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