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Assadullah Sarwari (born 1930[citation needed]) is an Afghan former politician and convicted war criminal who belonged to the Khalq faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). He was born in Ghazni Province.[1]

Assadullah Sarwari
Director of KHAD
In office
April 1978 – September 1979
Preceded bynone
Succeeded byAsadullah Amin
Personal details
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan
Political partyKhalq

Educated in the Soviet Union, he served as an air force pilot under the monarchy of Mohammed Zahir Shah, and later as the air force garrison commander under President Mohammed Daoud Khan in 1973.

When the Communist government took over he was appointed head of the Afghan Security Service (AGSA) in 1978 and continued to serve until he was replaced by Hafizullah Amin's nephew, Asadullah Amin in October 1979.

In September 1979 Sarwari was involved in a pro-Nur Muhammad Taraki plot to oust Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin. After the failure of the plot, he and his comrades (the 'Gang of Four') escaped to the Soviet Embassy, where he was given asylum until the Soviet invasion and the fall of Amin in December 1979.

After the invasion, under the government of Babrak Karmal, Sarwari was first given the task of deputy prime minister, but he was soon removed from the government and posted as ambassador to Mongolia from 1980 to 1986. In January 1980, Sarwari also became a member of the PDPA Politburo.[2] In 1981, he was stripped of membership in the PDPA Politburo and was expelled from the party's Central Committee five years later in July 1986. President Mohammad Najibullah appointed him as ambassador to East Germany until 1988 and then South Yemen in 1989.[3]

Sarwari was expelled from the party following his alleged role in support of Shahnawaz Tanai's coup attempt in 1990.

In May 1992, after the collapse of the Communist regime, Sarwari was arrested by the Shura-e Nazar militia of Ahmad Shah Massoud and was kept in detention in Panjshir. In 2005 he was transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

On December 25, 2005, he was charged with the involvement in the arbitrary arrest, torture and mass killing of hundreds of opponents during his tenure as head of Afghan intelligence for a period of one year. On February 25, 2006, he was sentenced to death by firing squad for ordering the killing of over 400 people; he was cleared of charges involving conspiracy against the post-Communist government. His was the first trial involving war crimes in Afghanistan in the post-Taliban era. The proceedings of the trial were condemned by the Amnesty International as "grossly unfair".[4]

Reuters reported that he received a death sentence in January 2006.[5] In 2008 a court of appeal commuted his sentence to 19 years' imprisonment.[6] He was released from jail in January 2017.[7]


  1. ^ W. Adamec, Ludwig (2012). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Scarecrow Press. p. 382. ISBN 9780810878150.
  2. ^ "ASSADULLAH SARWARI". Trial International. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  3. ^ Clements, Frank (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 227. ISBN 9781851094028.
  4. ^ "Afghanistan: Death Penalty/Unfair Trial: Asadullah Sarwari (m), aged 65". Amnesty.Org. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  5. ^ "AFGHANISTAN: Communist era mass grave discovered highlights need for post-war justice". Reuters. December 22, 2006. Retrieved March 1, 2008. In January this year, a former Afghan intelligence chief, Assadullah Sarwary was sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in mass killings during the rule of Noor Mohammad Taraki.
  6. ^ Court condemns communist-era spy chief to 19 years in jail
  7. ^

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