|Name:||Ahmad Shah Massoud|
|Birth Day:||September 2, 1953|
|Death Date:||September 9, 2001(2001-09-09) (aged 48)
Takhar Province, Afghanistan
|Birth Place:||Bazarak, Panjshir, Afghanistan, Afghanistan|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Ahmad Shah Massoud died on September 9, 2001(2001-09-09) (aged 48)
Takhar Province, Afghanistan.
Ahmad Shah Massoud was born in 1953 in Bazarak in the Panjshir Valley (today administered as part of Panjshir Province), to a well-to-do family native to the Panjshir valley. His name at birth was "Ahmed Shah"; he took the name "Massoud" as a nom de guerre when he went into the resistance movement in 1974. His father, Dost Mohammad Khan, was a colonel in the Royal Afghan Army. From his native Panjshir, his family moved briefly to Herat and then to Kabul, where Massoud spent most of his childhood.
In 1973, former Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan was brought to power in a coup d'état backed by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, and the Republic of Afghanistan was established. These developments gave rise to an Islamist movement opposed to the increasing communist and Soviet influence over Afghanistan. During that time, while studying at Kabul University, Massoud became involved with the Muslim Youth (Sazman-i Jawanan-i Musulman), the student branch of the Jamiat-e Islami (Islamic Society), whose chairman then was the professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. Kabul University was a centre for political debate and activism during that time.
In July 1975, the Muslim Youth, with help from the Pakistani intelligence, staged an uprising against the government in Massoud's Panjshir Valley. The group, which included Massoud, hoped to gain civilian support, but the plan backfired when the locals instead chased them to the mountains. After this failure, a "profound and long-lasting schism" within the Islamist movement began to emerge. The Islamic Society split between supporters of the more moderate forces around Massoud and Rabbani, who led the Jamiat-i Islami, and more radical Islamist elements surrounding Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who founded the Hezb-i Islami. The conflict reached such a point that Hekmatyar reportedly tried to kill Massoud, then 22 years old.
Massoud had survived assassination attempts over a period of 26 years, including attempts made by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Pakistani ISI and before them the Soviet KGB, the Afghan communist KHAD and Hekmatyar. The first attempt on Massoud's life was carried out by Hekmatyar and two Pakistani ISI agents in 1975 when Massoud was 22 years old. In early 2001, al-Qaeda would-be assassins were captured by Massoud's forces while trying to enter his territory.
On April 27, 1978, the PDPA and military units loyal to it killed Daoud Khan, his immediate family, and bodyguards in a violent coup, and seized control of the capital Kabul. The new PDPA government, led by a revolutionary council, did not enjoy the support of the masses. It announced and implemented a doctrine hostile to political dissent, whether inside or outside the party.
Believing that an uprising against the Soviet-backed communists would be supported by the people, Massoud, on July 6, 1979, started an insurrection in the Panjshir, which initially failed. Massoud decided to avoid conventional confrontation with the larger government forces and to wage a guerrilla war. He subsequently took full control of Panjshir, pushing out Afghan communist troops. Oliver Roy writes that in the following period, Massoud's "personal prestige and the efficiency of his military organisation persuaded many local commanders to come and learn from him."
Following the 1979 Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Massoud devised a strategic plan for expelling the invaders and overthrowing the communist regime. The first task was to establish a popularly based resistance force that had the loyalty of the people. The second phase was "active defense" of the Panjshir stronghold, while carrying out asymmetric warfare. In the third phase, the "strategic offensive", Massoud's forces would gain control of large parts of Northern Afghanistan. The fourth phase was the "general application" of Massoud's principles to the whole country, and the defeat of the Afghan communist government.
Despite almost constant attacks by the Red Army and the Afghan army, Massoud increased his military strength. Starting in 1980 with a force of less than 1,000 ill-equipped guerrillas, the Panjshir valley mujahideen grew to a 5,000-strong force by 1984. After expanding his influence outside the valley, Massoud increased his resistance forces to 13,000 fighters by 1989. These forces were divided into different types of units: the locals (mahalli) were tasked with static defense of villages and fortified positions. The best of the mahalli were formed into units called grup-i zarbati (shock troops), semi-mobile groups that acted as reserve forces for the defense of several strongholds. A different type of unit was the mobile group (grup-i-mutaharek), a lightly equipped commando-like formation numbering 33 men, whose mission was to carry out hit-and-run attacks outside the Panjshir, sometimes as far as 100 km from their base. These men were professional soldiers, well-paid and trained, and, from 1983 on, they provided an effective strike force against government outposts. Uniquely among the mujahideen, these groups wore uniforms, and their use of the pakul made this headwear emblematic of the Afghan resistance.
Massoud's mujahideen attacked the occupying Soviet forces, ambushing Soviet and Afghan communist convoys travelling through the Salang Pass, and causing fuel shortages in Kabul. The Soviets mounted a series of offensives against the Panjshir. Between 1980 and 1985, these offensives were conducted twice a year. Despite engaging more men and hardware on each occasion, the Soviets were unable to defeat Massoud's forces. In 1982, the Soviets began deploying major combat units in the Panjshir, numbering up to 30,000 men. Massoud pulled his troops back into subsidiary valleys, where they occupied fortified positions. When the Soviet columns advanced onto these positions, they fell into ambushes. When the Soviets withdrew, Afghan army garrisons took over their positions. Massoud and his mujahideen forces attacked and recaptured them one by one.
In 1983, the Soviets offered Massoud a temporary truce, which he accepted in order to rebuild his own forces and give the civilian population a break from Soviet attacks. He put the respite to good use. In this time he created the Shura-e Nazar (Supervisory Council), which subsequently united 130 commanders from 12 Afghan provinces in their fight against the Soviet army. This council existed outside the Peshawar parties, which were prone to internecine rivalry and bickering, and served to smooth out differences between resistance groups, due to political and ethnic divisions. It was the predecessor of what could have become a unified Islamic Afghan army.
With the defeat of the Soviet-Afghan attacks, Massoud carried out the next phase of his strategic plan, expanding the resistance movement and liberating the northern provinces of Afghanistan. In August 1986, he captured Farkhar in Takhar Province. In November 1986, his forces overran the headquarters of the government's 20th division at Nahrin in Baghlan Province, scoring an important victory for the resistance. This expansion was also carried out through diplomatic means, as more mujahideen commanders were persuaded to adopt the Panjshir military system.
The Soviet army and the Afghan communist army were mainly defeated by Massoud and his mujahideen in numerous small engagements between 1984 and 1988. In 1989, after describing the Soviet Union's military engagement in Afghanistan "a bleeding wound", Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev began a withdrawal of Soviet troops from the nation. On February 15, 1989, in what was depicted as an improbable victory for the mujahideen, the last Soviet soldier left the nation.
After the departure of Soviet troops in 1989, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan regime, then headed by Mohammad Najibullah, held its own against the mujahideen. Backed by a massive influx of weapons from the Soviet Union, the Afghan armed forces reached a level of performance they had never reached under direct Soviet tutelage. They maintained control over all of Afghanistan's major cities. During late 1990, helped by hundreds of mujahideen forces, Massoud targeted the Tajik Supreme Soviet, trying to oust communism from the neighboring Tajikistan to further destabilize the dying Soviet Union, which would also impact the Afghan government. At that time, as per Asad Durrani, the director-general of the ISI during this period, Massoud's base camp was in Garam Chashma, in Pakistan. By 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Afghan regime eventually began to crumble. Food and fuel shortages undermined the capacities of the government's army, and a resurgence of factionalism split the regime between Khalq and Parcham supporters.
Collusions between military leaders quickly brought down the Kabul government. In mid-January 1992, within three weeks of the demise of the Soviet Union, Massoud was aware of conflict within the government's northern command. General Abdul Momim, in charge of the Hairatan border crossing at the northern end of Kabul's supply highway, and other non-Pashtun generals based in Mazar-i-Sharif, feared removal by Najibullah and replacement by Pashtun officers. When the generals rebelled, Abdul Rashid Dostum, who held general rank as head of the Jowzjani militia, also based in Mazar-i-Sharif, took over.
He and Massoud reached a political agreement, together with another major militia leader, Sayyed Mansour, of the Ismaili community based in Baghlan Province. These northern allies consolidated their position in Mazar-i-Sharif on March 21. Their coalition covered nine provinces in the north and northeast. As turmoil developed within the government in Kabul, no government force stood between the northern allies and the major air force base at Bagram, some seventy kilometers north of Kabul. By mid-April 1992, the Afghan air force command at Bagram had capitulated to Massoud. On March 18, 1992, Najibullah announced he would resign. On April 17, as his government fell, he tried to escape but was stopped at Kabul Airport by Dostum's forces. He took refuge at the United Nations mission, where he remained unharmed until 1996, while Massoud controlled the area surrounding the mission.
With United Nations support, most Afghan political parties decided to appoint a legitimate national government to succeed communist rule, through an elite settlement. While the external Afghan party leaders were residing in Peshawar, the military situation around Kabul involving the internal commanders was tense. A 1991 UN peace process brought about some negotiations, but the attempted elite settlement did not develop. In April 1992, resistance leaders in Peshawar tried to negotiate a settlement. Massoud supported the Peshawar process of establishing a broad coalition government inclusive of all resistance parties, but Hekmatyar sought to become the sole ruler of Afghanistan, stating, "In our country coalition government is impossible because, this way or another, it is going to be weak and incapable of stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan."
On April 24, 1992, the leaders in Peshawar agreed on and signed the Peshawar Accord, establishing the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan – which was a stillborn 'state' with a paralyzed 'government' right from its inception, until its final succumbing in September 1996. The creation of the Islamic State was welcomed though by the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Islamic State of Afghanistan was recognized as the legitimate entity representing Afghanistan until June 2002, when its successor, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, was established under the interim government of Hamid Karzai. Under the 1992 Peshawar Accord, the Defense Ministry was given to Massoud while the Prime Ministership was given to Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar refused to sign. With the exception of Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, all of the other Peshawar resistance parties were unified under this peace and power-sharing accord in April 1992.
Massoud was married to Sediqa Massoud. They have one son, Ahmad Massoud (born in 1989) and five daughters (Fatima born in 1992, Mariam born in 1993, Ayesha born in 1995, Zohra born in 1996 and Nasrine born in 1998). In 2005 Sediqa Massoud published a personal account on her life with Massoud (co-authored by two women's rights activists and friends of Sediqa Massoud, Chékéba Hachemi and Marie-Francoise Colombani [fr]) called "Pour l'amour de Massoud" (For the love of Massoud), in which she describes a decent and loving husband.
"The major criticism of Massoud's human rights record" is the escalation of the Afshar military operation in 1993. A report by the Afghanistan Justice Project describes Massoud as failing to prevent atrocities carried out by his forces and those of their factional ally, Ittihad-i Islami, against civilians on taking the suburb of Afshar during a military operation against an anti-state militia allied to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. They shelled residential areas in the capital city in February 1993. Critics said that Massoud should have foreseen these problems. A meeting convened by Massoud on the next day ordered a halt to killing and looting, but it failed to stop abuses. Human Rights Watch, in a report based largely on the material collected by the Afghanistan Justice Project, concurs that Massoud's Jamiat forces bear a share of the responsibility for human rights abuses throughout the war, including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Afshar, and that Massoud was personally implicated in some of these abuses. Roy Gutman has argued that the witness reports about Afshar cited in the AJP report implicated only the Ittihad forces, and that these had not been under Massoud's direct command.
In 1993, Massoud created the Cooperative Mohammad Ghazali Culture Foundation (Bonyad-e Farhangi wa Ta'wani Mohammad-e Ghazali) to further humanitarian assistance and politically independent Afghan culture. The Ghazali Foundation provided free medical services during some days of the week to residents of Kabul who were unable to pay for medical treatment. The Ghazali Foundation's department for distribution of auxiliary goods was the first partner of the Red Cross. The Ghazali Foundation's department of family consultation was a free advisory board, which was accessible seven days a week for the indigent. Although Massoud was responsible for the financing of the foundation, he did not interfere with its cultural work. A council led the foundation and a jury, consisting of impartial university lecturers, decided on the works of artists. The Ghazali foundation enabled Afghan artists to exhibit their works at different places in Kabul, and numerous artists and authors were honoured for their works; some of them neither proponents of Massoud nor the Islamic State government.
In March 1993, Massoud resigned his government position in exchange for peace, as requested by Hekmatyar, who considered him as a personal rival. According to the Islamabad Accord, Burhanuddin Rabbani, belonging to the same party as Massoud, remained president, while Gulbuddin Hekmatyar took the long-offered position of prime minister. Two days after the Islamabad Accord was put into effect, however, Hekmatyar's allies of Hezb-e Wahdat renewed rocket attacks in Kabul.
In May 1993, a new effort was made to reinstate the Islamabad Accord. In August, Massoud reached out to Hekmatyar in an attempt to broaden the government. By the end of 1993, however, Hekmatyar and the former communist general and militia leader, Abdul Rashid Dostum, were involved in secret negotiations encouraged by Pakistan's secret Inter-Services Intelligence, Iran's intelligence service, and Uzbekistan's Karimov administration. They planned a coup to oust the Rabbani administration and to attack Massoud in his northern areas.
In January 1994, Hekmatyar and Dostum mounted a bombardment campaign against the capital and attacked Massoud's core areas in the northeast. Amin Saikal writes, Hekmatyar had the following objectives in all his operations:
By mid-1994, Hekmatyar and Dostum were on the defensive in Kabul against Islamic State forces led by Massoud. Southern Afghanistan had been neither under the control of foreign-backed militias nor of the government in Kabul, but was ruled by local Pashtun leaders, such as Gul Agha Sherzai, and their militias. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force, reportedly in opposition to the tyranny of the local governor. When the Taliban took control of Kandahar in 1994, they forced the surrender of dozens of local Pashtun leaders who had presided over a situation of complete lawlessness and atrocities. In 1994, the Taliban took power in several provinces in southern and central Afghanistan.
The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. The Taliban's first major offensive against the important western city of Herat, under the rule of Islamic state ally Ismail Khan, in February 1995 was defeated when Massoud airlifted 2,000 of his own core forces from Kabul to help defend Herat. Ahmed Rashid writes: "The Taliban had now been decisively pushed back on two fronts by the government and their political and military leadership was in disarray. Their image as potential peacemakers was badly dented, for in the eyes of many Afghans they had become nothing more than just another warlord party." International observers already speculated that the Taliban as a country-wide organization might have "run its course".
By early 1995, Massoud initiated a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections. He arranged a conference in three parts uniting political and cultural personalities, governors, commanders, clergymen and representatives, in order to reach a lasting agreement. Massoud's favourite for candidacy to the presidency was Dr. Mohammad Yusuf, the first democratic prime minister under Zahir Shah, the former king. In the first meeting representatives from 15 different Afghan provinces met, in the second meeting there were already 25 provinces participating.
Neighboring Pakistan exerted strong influence over the Taliban. A publication with the George Washington University describes: "Initially, the Pakistanis supported ... Gulbuddin Hekmatyar ... When Hekmatyar failed to deliver for Pakistan, the administration began to support a new movement of religious students known as the Taliban." Many analysts like Amin Saikal describe the Taliban as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan's regional interests. The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud. (see video on YouTube) Amnesty International, referring to the Taliban offensive, wrote in a 1995 report:
Mullah Omar, however, consolidated his control of the Taliban and with foreign help rebuilt and re-equipped his forces. Pakistan increased its support to the Taliban. Its military advisers oversaw the restructuring of Taliban forces. The country provided armored pick-up trucks and other military equipment. Saudi Arabia provided the funding. Furthermore, there was a massive influx of 25,000 new Taliban fighters, many of them recruited in Pakistan. This enabled the Taliban to capture Herat to the west of Kabul in a surprise attack against the forces of Ismail Khan in September 1995. A nearly one-year siege and bombardment campaign against Kabul, however, was again defeated by Massoud's forces.
Massoud and Rabbani meanwhile kept working on an internal Afghan peace process—successfully. By February 1996, all of Afghanistan's armed factions—except for the Taliban—had agreed to take part in the peace process and to set up a peace council to elect a new interim president. Many Pashtun areas under Taliban control had representatives also advocating for a peace agreement with the Islamic State government. But Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Kandaharis surrounding him wanted to expand the war. At that point the Taliban leadership and their foreign supporters decided they needed to act quickly before the government could consolidate the new understanding between the parties. The Taliban moved against Jalalabad, under the control of the Pashtun Jalalabad Shura, to the east of Kabul. Part of the Jalalabad Shura was bribed with millions of dollars by the Taliban's foreign sponsors, especially Saudi Arabia, to vacate their positions. The Taliban's battle for Jalalabad was directed by Pakistani military advisers. Hundreds of Taliban crossed the Afghan-Pakistani border moving on Jalalabad from Pakistan and thereby suddenly placed to the east of Kabul. This left the capital city Kabul "wide open" to many sides as Ismail Khan had been defeated to the west, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had vacated his positions to the south and the fall and surrender of Jalalabad had suddenly opened a new front to the east. At that point Massoud decided to conduct a strategic retreat through a northern corridor, according to Ahmed Rashid, "knowing he could not defend [Kabul] from attacks coming from all four points of the compass. Nor did he want to lose the support of Kabul's population by fighting for the city and causing more bloodshed." On September 26, 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban marched into Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Massoud and his troops retreated to the northeast of Afghanistan which became the base for the still internationally recognized Islamic State of Afghanistan.
Ahmad Shah Massoud created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban advance. The United Front included forces and leaders from different political backgrounds as well as from all ethnicities of Afghanistan. From the Taliban conquest in 1996 until November 2001, the United Front controlled territory in which roughly 30% of Afghanistan's population was living, in provinces such as Badakhshan, Kapisa, Takhar and parts of Parwan, Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Samangan, Kunduz, Ghōr and Bamyan.
Life in the areas under direct control of Massoud was different from the life in the areas under Taliban or Dostum's control. In contrast to the time of chaos in which all structures had collapsed in Kabul, Massoud was able to control most of the troops under his direct command well during the period starting in late 1996. Massoud always controlled the Panjshir, Takhar, parts of Parwan and Badakhshan during the war. Some other provinces (notably Kunduz, Baghlan, Nuristan and the north of Kabul) were captured by his forces from the Taliban and lost again from time to time as the frontlines varied.
In 1997, U.S. State Department's Robin Raphel suggested to Massoud he should surrender to the Taliban. He soundly rejected the proposal.
At one point in the war, in 1997, two top foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration flew to northern Afghanistan in an attempt to convince Massoud not to take advantage of a strategic opportunity to make crucial gains against the Taliban.
Massoud was the only chief Afghan leader who never left Afghanistan in the fight against the Soviet Union and later in the fight against the Taliban Emirate. In the areas under his direct control, such as Panjshir, some parts of Parwan and Takhar, Massoud established democratic institutions. One refugee who cramped his family of 27 into an old jeep to flee from the Taliban to the area of Massoud described Massoud's territory in 1997 as "the last tolerant corner of Afghanistan".
Meanwhile, the Taliban imposed their repressive regime in the parts of Afghanistan under their control. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Northern Alliance territory, Pakistan and Iran. Massoud's soldiers held some 1,200 Taliban prisoners in the Panjshir Valley, 122 of them foreign Muslims who had come to Afghanistan to fight a jihad. In 1998, after the defeat of Abdul Rashid Dostum's faction in Mazar-i-Sharif, Ahmad Shah Massoud remained the only main leader of the United Front in Afghanistan and the only leader who was able to defend vast parts of his area against the Taliban. Most major leaders including the Islamic State's President Burhanuddin Rabbani, Abdul Rashid Dostum, and others, were living in exile. During this time, commentators remarked that "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud."
In 1998, a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Julie Sirrs, visited Massoud's territories privately, having previously been denied official permission to do so by her agency. She reported that Massoud had conveyed warnings about strengthened ties between the Taliban and foreign Islamist terrorists. Returning home, she was sacked from her agency for insubordination, because at that time the U.S. administration had no trust in Massoud.
From 1999 onwards, a renewed process was set into motion by the Tajik Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Pashtun Abdul Haq to unite all the ethnicities of Afghanistan. Massoud united the Tajiks, Hazara and Uzbeks as well as several Pashtun commanders under his United Front. Besides meeting with Pashtun tribal leaders and acting as a point of reference, Abdul Haq received increasing numbers of Pashtun Taliban themselves who were secretly approaching him. Some commanders who had worked for the Taliban military apparatus agreed to the plan to topple the Taliban regime as the Taliban lost support even among the Pashtuns. Senior diplomat and Afghanistan expert Peter Tomsen wrote that "[t]he 'Lion of Kabul' [Abdul Haq] and the 'Lion of Panjshir' [Ahmad Shah Massoud] would make a formidable anti-Taliban team if they combined forces. Haq, Massoud, and Karzai, Afghanistan's three leading moderates, could transcend the Pashtun—non-Pashtun, north-south divide." Steve Coll referred to this plan as a "grand Pashtun-Tajik alliance". The senior Hazara and Uzbek leaders took part in the process just like later Afghan president Hamid Karzai. They agreed to work under the banner of the exiled Afghan king Zahir Shah in Rome.
Although Pakistan were supporting the mujahideen groups during the Soviet-Afghan War, Ahmad Shah Massoud increasingly distrusted the Pakistanis and eventually kept his distance from them. In a 1999 interview, Massoud says "They [Pakistan] are trying to turn us into a colony. Without them there would be no war".
In November 2000, leaders from all ethnic groups were brought together in Massoud's headquarters in northern Afghanistan, travelling from other parts of Afghanistan, Europe, the United States, Pakistan and India to discuss a Loya Jirga for a settlement of Afghanistan's problems and to discuss the establishment of a post-Taliban government. In September 2001, an international official who met with representatives of the alliance remarked, "It's crazy that you have this today ... Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara ... They were all ready to buy in to the process".
In September 2000, Massoud signed the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women drafted by Afghan women. The declaration established gender equality in front of the law and the right of women to political participation, education, work, freedom of movement and speech. In the areas of Massoud, women and girls did not have to wear the Afghan burqa by law. They were allowed to work and to go to school. Although it was a time of war, girls' schools were operating in some districts. In at least two known instances, Massoud personally intervened against cases of forced marriage in favour of the women to make their own choice.
After Pakistan had funded, directed and supported the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan, Massoud and the United Front received some assistance from India. India was particularly concerned about Pakistan's Taliban strategy and the Islamic militancy in its neighborhood; it provided U.S.$70 million in aid including two Mi-17 helicopters, three additional helicopters in 2000 and US$8 million worth of high-altitude equipment in 2001. Also In the 1990s, India had run a field hospital at Farkor on the Tajik-Afghan border to treat wounded fighters from the then Northern Alliance that was battling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was at the very same hospital that the Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood was pronounced dead after being assassinated just two days before the 9/11 terror strikes in 2001. Furthermore, the alliance supposedly also received minor aid from Tajikistan, Russia and Iran because of their opposition to the Taliban and the Pakistani control over the Taliban's Emirate. Their support, however, remained limited to the most needed things. Meanwhile, Pakistan engaged up to 28,000 Pakistani nationals and regular Pakistani army troops to fight alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces against Massoud.
In early 2001, the United Front employed a new strategy of local military pressure and global political appeals. Resentment was increasingly gathering against Taliban rule from the bottom of Afghan society including the Pashtun areas. At the same time, Massoud was very wary not to revive the failed Kabul government of the early 1990s. Already in 1999 the United Front leadership ordered the training of police forces specifically to keep order and protect the civilian population in case the United Front would be successful.
In early 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud with leaders from all ethnicities of Afghanistan addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, asking the international community to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan. He stated that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of Pakistan and Bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year. On that visit to Europe, he also warned the US about Bin Laden.
Humayun Tandar, who took part as an Afghan diplomat in the 2001 International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn, said that "strictures of language, ethnicity, region were [also] stifling for Massoud. That is why ... he wanted to create a unity which could surpass the situation in which we found ourselves and still find ourselves to this day." This applied also to strictures of religion. Jean-José Puig describes how Massoud often led prayers before a meal or at times asked his fellow Muslims to lead the prayer but also did not hesitate to ask the Jewish Princeton Professor Michael Barry or his Christian friend Jean-José Puig: "Jean-José, we believe in the same God. Please, tell us the prayer before lunch or dinner in your own language."
CIA lawyers, working with officers in the Near East Division and Counterterrorist Center, began to draft a formal, legal presidential finding for Bush's signature authorizing a new covert action program in Afghanistan, the first in a decade that sought to influence the course of the Afghan war in favour of Massoud. This change in policy was finalized in August 2001 when it was too late.
In April 2001, the president of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine (who called Massoud the "pole of liberty in Afghanistan"), invited Massoud with the support of French and Belgian politicians to address the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. In his speech, he asked for humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan. Massoud further went on to warn that his intelligence agents had gained limited knowledge about a large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil being imminent.
Massoud, then aged 48, was the target of an assassination plot at Khwājah Bahā ud Dīn (Khvājeh Bahāuḏḏīn), in Takhar Province in northeastern Afghanistan on September 9, 2001. The attackers' names were alternately given as Dahmane Abd al-Sattar, husband of Malika El Aroud, and Bouraoui el-Ouaer; or 34-year-old Karim Touzani and 26-year-old Kacem Bakkali.
The attackers claimed to be Belgians originally from Morocco. According to Le Monde they transited through the municipality of Molenbeek. Their passports turned out to be stolen and their nationality was later determined to be Tunisian. Waiting for almost three weeks (during which they also interviewed Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf) for an interview opportunity, on September 8, 2001, an aide to Massoud recalls the would-be suicide attackers "were so worried" and threatened to leave if the interview did not happen in the next 24 hours (until September 10, 2001). They were finally granted an interview. During the interview, they set off a bomb composed of explosives hidden in the camera and in a battery-pack belt. Commander Massoud died in a helicopter that was taking him to an Indian military field hospital at Farkhor in nearby Tajikistan. The explosion also killed Mohammed Asim Suhail, a United Front official, while Mohammad Fahim Dashty and Massoud Khalili were injured. One of the suicide attackers, Bouraoui, was killed by the explosion, while Dahmane Abd al-Sattar was captured and shot while trying to escape.
Despite initial denials by the United Front, news of Massoud's death was reported almost immediately, appearing on the BBC, and in European and North American newspapers on September 10, 2001. On September 16, the United Front officially announced that Massoud had died of injuries in the suicide attack. Massoud was buried in his home village of Bazarak in the Panjshir Valley. The funeral, although in a remote rural area, was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. (see video on YouTube).
The assassination of Massoud is considered to have a strong connection to the September 11 attacks in 2001 on U.S. soil, which killed nearly 3,000 people. It appeared to have been the major terrorist attack which Massoud had warned against in his speech to the European Parliament several months earlier.
In a 2001 mourning ceremony at Moscow to honour the memory of Ahmad Shah Massoud, one-time foe Colonel Abdul Qadir stated: "Though Massoud and I used to be enemies, I am sure he deserves great respect as an outstanding military leader and, first of all, as a patriot of his country".
In April 2003, the Karzai administration announced the creation of a commission to investigate the assassination of Massoud. In 2003, French investigators announced that they and the FBI had been able to trace the provenance of the camera used in the assassination, which had been stolen in France some time earlier.
Massoud's family since his death have had a great deal of prestige in the politics of Afghanistan. One of his six brothers, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was the Vice President of Afghanistan from 2004 until 2009 under the first democratically elected government of Afghanistan. Unsuccessful attempts have been made on the life of Ahmad Zia Massoud in 2004 and late 2009. The Associated Press reported that 8 Afghans died in the attempt on Ahmad Zia Massoud's life. Ahmad Zia Massoud leads the National Front of Afghanistan (a United Front group). Another brother, Ahmad Wali Massoud, was Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2002 to 2006. He is a member of Abdullah Abdullah's National Coalition of Afghanistan (another United Front group).
Currently, Ahmad Shah Massoud is 69 years, 4 months and 28 days old. Ahmad Shah Massoud will celebrate 70th birthday on a Saturday 2nd of September 2023. Below we countdown to Ahmad Shah Massoud upcoming birthday.
In Afghanistan, A Rebel Leader's Legacy
Ten years ago, the most famous rebel leader in Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was killed by al-Qaida as the opening salvo for the Sept. 11 attacks. Revered by followers, Massoud had led the fight against the Taliban.