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Afghan Salafi Leader Announces Presidential Bid

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf

Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf

Afghanistan's most prominent Salafi leader has resigned from parliament to contest the April 5 presidential election.

Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf announced his resignation and candidacy on October 2.

He said that Ismail Khan, Afghanistan's current energy minister and a former warlord from western Afghanistan, will run as his first vice president.

Sayyaf currently heads the Daawat-i-Islami group. He was one of the top anti-Soviet Islamist guerrilla leaders in the 1980s.

Sayyaf became a close ally of Saudi Arabia after converting to the kingdom's official religion, the Salafi sect of Sunni Islam.

He is accused by Afghan and Western human rights organizations of gross human rights violations during Afghanistan's civil war in the 1990s.

with reporting by the BBC and