75. Telegram From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State1

7421. Subj: (U) DRA Announces Death of Former President Taraki.

1. (U) Kabul Radio announced last night in a brief news item that Noor Mohammad Taraki, recently deposed President of Afghanistan, had died that morning (October 9) after a severe illness. The announcement added that he was buried in the family graveyard the same day. We have, thus far, not noted any particular signs of mourning in Kabul. Government flags remain at full mast and there have been no public demonstrations of regret at Taraki’s passing.

2. (C) According to a source with wide-ranging contacts in Afghan circles, a Cabinet official had disclosed two weeks ago that Taraki had died during or soon after the September 14 shootout at Kabul’s Presidential Palace, which brought Amin to power. Amin and his government’s official public line since that time has been that Taraki was under a doctor’s care because of a severe illness. A DRA official had recently insisted to an officer of this mission that Taraki was paralyzed on one side and that that was why he had had to relinquish the Presidency to Amin.

4. (C) Comment: Whatever the manner or timing of Taraki’s demise, we have reason to believe that some Khalqi stalwarts remain disgruntled that Amin so unceremoniously ousted Taraki, the Khalqi Party’s founder, last month, and consider Amin and his crowd to be nothing more than opportunistic usurpers. Amin is undoubtedly aware of such resentment and is presumably plotting to neutralize those die-hard [Page 206] Taraki supporters who could pose a threat to his regime, whether among the military or civilian elements.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790463–1021. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to Islamabad, Moscow, New Delhi, and Tehran.