- Ahmad Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud Nickname "Lion of Panjshir" Born September 2, 1953
Bazarak, Panjshir, Afghanistan
Died September 9, 2001 (aged 48)
Takhar Province, Afghanistan
Service/branch Military Years of service 1978-2001 † Rank Commander, Minister of Defense Commands held Prominent Mujahideen commander during the Soviet war in Afghanistan,
Defense Minister of Afghanistan and commander of the anti-Taliban United Islamic Front
Battles/wars Soviet war in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan
Awards National Hero of Afghanistan and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Ahmad Shah Massoud (احمد شاه مسعود- Aḥmad Šāh Mas'ūd; September 2, 1953 – September 9, 2001) was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd (Our Beloved Martyred Commander). A devout Sunni Muslim reportedly also always carrying a book of Sufi mystic Ghazali with him, he strongly rejected the interpretations of Islam followed by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or the Saudi establishment. His followers not only saw him as a military commander but also as a spiritual leader.
Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan the Wall Street Journal named Massoud "the Afghan who won the Cold War". After the collapse of the communist Soviet-backed government of Mohammad Najibullah in 1992, Massoud became the Minister of Defense under the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Following the rise of the Taliban in 1996, Massoud returned to the role of an armed opposition leader, serving as the military commander and political leader of the United Islamic Front (also known in the West as Northern Alliance).
On September 9, 2001, two days before the September 11 attacks in the United States, Massoud was assassinated in Takhar Province of Afghanistan by two suspected Arab al-Qaeda suicide bombers posing as journalists. The following year, he was named "National Hero" by the order of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The date of his death, September 9, is observed as a national holiday known as "Massoud Day" in Afghanistan. The year following his assassination, in 2002, Massoud was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1 Early life
- 2 The Soviet invasion and PDPA communism
- 3 Pakistani interference and war in Afghanistan (1992-today)
- 4 Assassination
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Further reading
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
The son of police commander Dost Mohammad, an ethnic Tajik, Ahmad Shah Massoud was born on September 2, 1953 in Bazarak, Panjshir, Afghanistan. At the age of five, he started grammar school in Bazarak and stayed there until second grade. Since his father was promoted to be police chief of Herat, he attended 3rd and 4th grade at the Mowaffaq School in Herat. He also received a religious education at the "Masjed-e Jame" mosque in Herat. Later, his father was moved to Kabul where he attended the Lycée Esteqlal and obtained his Baccalaureate. Since his childhood, he was considered exceedingly talented; from 10th grade on, his school acknowledged him as a particularly gifted student. He knew many languages including Persian, Pashtu, Urdu, Hindi and French. He also had a good working knowledge of Arabic and English.
While studying in Kabul in 1972, Massoud became involved with the Sazman-i Jawanan-i Musulman ("organization of Muslim youth"), the student branch of the Jamiat-i Islami ("Islamic Society"), whose chairman was professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. This Islamist organization opposed the rising communist and Soviet influence that became especially evident after the coup d'état that brought Mohammed Daoud Khan to power in 1973: the coup was orchestrated by the Parcham faction of the PDPA, the Afghan communist party.
In 1976, the movement split between supporters of Rabbani, who led the Jamiat, and the extremist elements surrounding Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who then founded the Hezb-i Islami. Massoud who had regular and vehement disputes with Hekmatyar joined Rabbani's faction.
The Soviet invasion and PDPA communism
Communist revolution in Afghanistan (1978)
The government of Mohammed Daoud Khan increasingly distanced itself from the Afghan communists and the Soviet Union. In 1978, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA, حزب دیموکراتیک خلق افغانستان) orchestrated a bloody coup assassinating Mohammed Daoud Khan, his family and bodyguards and consequently assuming power. The PDPA soon started reforms along Marxist-Leninist and Soviet lines. The reforms and the PDPA's affinity to the Soviet Union were met with heavy resistance among the population and also the Afghan Islamic fundamentalists, especially as the government attempted to enforce its Marxist policies by arresting or simply executing those who resisted. Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 100,000 people may have been killed in the countryside alone by government troops. The repression plunged large parts of the country, especially the rural areas, into open revolt against the new Marxist government. By spring 1979 unrests had reached 24 out of 28 Afghan provinces including major urban areas. Over half of the Afghan army would either desert or join the insurrection.
Having ascertained that an uprising against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan would be backed by the people, Massoud made his way to the Panjshir and started an insurrection on July 6, 1979. The fight lasted 40 days, during which the whole Panjshir, Salang, and Bola Ghain were in open revolt against the Marxist government. After these 40 days, Massoud's leg was severely injured and the troops under his command had no more weapons and ammunition. In the end the government troops defeated them. Drawing lessons from this failure, Massoud decided to avoid conventional confrontation with larger and better armed government troops and to instead wage a guerrilla war.
Resistance against the Soviet Union (1979-1989)
“ Widely seen as a guerrilla genius - his country's Che Guevara, with charisma and beard to match - Massoud successfully played David to the Soviets' Goliath in the 1980s. ”
Following the 1979 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet troops, Massoud devised a strategic plan for expelling the invaders and overthrowing the communist regime. The first task was to establish a resistance force which had the hearts and minds of the people. The second phase was one of "active defense" of the Panjshir stronghold, while carrying out asymmetric warfare. The third phase, the "strategic offensive", would see Massoud's forces taking control of large parts of Northern Afghanistan. The fourth phase was the "general application" of Massoud's principles to the whole country, and the final demise of the Afghan communist government.
From the start of the war, Massoud's mujahideen proved to be a thorn in the side for the occupying Soviet forces by ambushing Soviet and Afghan communist convoys travelling through the Salang Pass, resulting in 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. Yet, 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, they handed over their positions to Afghan army garrisons, and 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 fold of the Peshawar parties that 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.
Relations with the party headquarters in Peshawar were often strained, as Rabbani insisted on giving Massoud no more weapons and supplies than to other Jamiat commanders, even those who did little fighting. To compensate for this deficiency, Massoud relied on revenues drawn from exports of emeralds and lapis lazuli, that are traditionally exploited in Northern Afghanistan.
To organize support for the mujahideen, Massoud established an administrative system that enforced law and order (nazm) in areas under his control. The Panjshir was divided into 22 bases (qarargah) governed by a military commander and a civilian administrator, and each had a judge, a prosecutor and a public defender. Massoud's policies were implemented by different committees: an economic committee was charged with funding the war effort. The health committee provided health services, assisted by volunteers from foreign humanitarian non-governmental organizations, such as Aide médicale internationale. An education committee was charged with the training of the military and administrative cadre. A culture committee and a judiciary committee were also created.
This expansion prompted Babrak Karmal to demand that the Red Army resume their offensives, in order to crush the Panjshir groups definitively. However, Massoud had received advance warning of the attack through his intelligence agents in the government and he evacuated all 130,000 inhabitants from the valley into the Hindukush mountains, leaving the Soviet bombings to fall on empty ground and the Soviet battalions once again to face the mountains.
With the defeat of the Soviet-Afghan attacks, Massoud was able to carry 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.
Despite almost constant attacks by the Red Army and the Afghan army, Massoud was able to increase his military strength. Starting in 1980 with a force of less than 1,000 ill-equipped guerillas, 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 military organization was an effective compromise between the traditional Afghan method of warfare and the modern principles of guerilla warfare that Massoud had learned from the works of Mao Zedong and Che Guevara. His forces were considered the most effective of all the various Afghan resistance movements.
The United States provided Massoud with close to no support. Part of the reason was that it permitted its funding and arms distribution to be administered by Pakistan, which favored rival mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In an interview Massoud expressed: "We thought the CIA knew everything. But they didn't. They supported some bad people [meaning Hekmatyar]." Primary advocates for supporting Massoud instead were State Department's Edmund McWilliams and Peter Tomsen, who were on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Others included two Heritage Foundation foreign policy analysts, Michael Johns and James A. Phillips, both of whom championed Massoud as the Afghan resistance leader most worthy of U.S. support under the Reagan Doctrine.
Still, 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 labeling 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.
Fall of the Afghan communist regime (1992)
After the departure of Soviet troops in 1989, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan regime, then headed by Mohammad Najibullah, proved unexpectedly capable of holding 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 and were able to maintain control over all of Afghanistan's major cities.
By 1992, however, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the regime 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.
A few days after it was clear that Najibullah had lost control of the nation, his army commanders and governors arranged to turn over authority to resistance commanders and local notables throughout the country. Joint councils (shuras) were immediately established for local government in which civil and military officials of the former government were usually included. In many cases, prior arrangements for transferring regional and local authority had been made between foes.
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 Mazari Sharif feared removal by Najibullah and replacement by Pashtun officers. The generals rebelled and the situation was taken over by Abdul Rashid Dostum, who held general rank as head of the Jowzjani militia, also based in Mazari Sharif. 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, there was no government force standing 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 his willingness to resign, and on April 17, as his government fell apart, he tried to escape but was stopped at Kabul Airport by Dostum's forces. He then took refuge at the United Nations mission, where he remained unharmed until 1995. A group of Parchami generals and officials declared themselves an interim government for the purpose of handing over power to Massoud, who at that time was the dominant military force and popular among the people.
Massoud transferred power to create an interim government to the political parties in order to give nobody a reason to continue the war. He kept his forces outside of Kabul trying to convince other commanders especially Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to do the same in order to avoid bloodshed. In early 1992, in a recorded conversation, Massoud tried to convince Gulbuddin Hekmatyar not to attack Kabul but instead to join the peace talks. see video Massoud was awaiting a political accord. In April 1992 the political leaders finally agreed on a plan for peace: the Peshawar Accords.
Pakistani interference and war in Afghanistan (1992-today)
War in Kabul and other parts of the country (1992-1996)
The Peshawar Accords created the Islamic State of Afghanistan and appointed an interim government for a transitional period. Ahmad Shah Massoud was appointed as the minister of defense."The sovereignty of Afghanistan was vested formally in the Islamic State of Afghanistan, an entity created in April 1992, after the fall of the Soviet-backed Najibullah government. ... With the exception of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, all of the parties ... were ostensibly unified under this government in April 1992. ... Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, for its part, refused to recognize the government for most of the period discussed in this report and launched attacks against government forces and Kabul generally. ... Hekmatyar continued to refuse to join the government. Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami forces increased their rocket and shell attacks on the city. Shells and rockets fell everywhere."—Human Rights Watch, 2005"Pakistan was keen to gear up for a breakthrough in Central Asia. ... Islamabad could not possibly expect the new Islamic government leaders ... to subordinate their own nationalist objectives in order to help Pakistan realize its regional ambitions. ... Had it not been for the ISI's logistic support and supply of a large number of rockets, Hekmatyar's forces would not have been able to target and destroy half of Kabul.—Amin Saikal, Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (2006)
Massoud enjoyed strong support inside Afghanistan but the Islamic State in general, although internationally recognized, received close to no outside funding or support. The United States and European countries after the communist defeat largely lost interest in Afghanistan and disengaged."[I]t was a policy decision to walk away... even after psychopathic killers like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar rose up as the Soviets departed.... The Saudis and the Pakistanis supported the arming of these violent extremists. Predictably, what followed was a period of havoc and bloodshed."— U.S. congressman Dana Rohrabacher, 2004
With the strong support of Pakistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - although he was repeatedly offered the position of prime minister - placed Kabul under intensive rocket bombardment in May 1992. Some sources cite up to 3,000 rockets being fired into Kabul daily, killing thousands of civilians. A report said: "Massoud, whose northern council was the dominant military power tried to keep order while the parties talked, but meantime, Pakistan urged on its Afghan client Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.... Massoud, with UN help tried to avoid civil war in the early 1990s but... Hekmatyar rained rockets on Kabul seeking power for himself." In addition, Saudi Arabia and Iran - as competitors for regional hegemony - supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was assisting the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari, as Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence. Saudi Arabia supported the Wahhabite Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and his Ittihad-i Islami faction. Massoud tried to avoid war between the Saudi-backed Ittihad and the Iran-backed Wahdat and frequently mediated between them. (see video)"Rare ceasefires, usually negotiated by representatives of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi or Burhanuddin Rabbani [the interim government], or officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), commonly collapsed within days."—Human Rights Watch, 2005
But Saudi Arabia and Iran urged on their proxy forces and conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war. A publication by the George Washington University describes:"[O]utside forces saw instability in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their own security and political agendas."—George Washington University, The Taliban File
Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Junbish-i Milli militia backed by Uzbekistan joined an alliance with Hekmatyar in early 1994. An estimated 25,000 people died during the most intense period of bombardment by Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami, the Junbish-i Milli forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum and the Hezb-e Wahdat of Abdul Ali Mazari in early 1994. Atrocities were committed by individuals of different armed factions while Kabul descended into lawlessness and chaos as described in reports by Human Rights Watch and the Afghanistan Justice Project. The militias who fought against the Islamic State and Massoud were known for their systematic brutality. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar released 10,000 dangerous criminals from the main prisons into the streets of Kabul to destabilize the city. Hekmatyar also cut off Kabul from water, food and energy supplies. The Iran-controlled Wahdat of Abdul Ali Mazari [as well as the Ittihad of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf supported by Saudi Arabia] targeted civilians of the 'opposite side' in systematic atrocities. Abdul Rashid Dostum allowed crimes as a perceived payment for his troops. For civilians there was little security from murder, rape and extortion. The Taliban (who attacked Kabul in early 1995) in later years would commit massacres against civilians compared by United Nations observers to those that happened during the War in Bosnia.
Ahmad Shah Massoud did not order any crimes. The Afghanistan Justice Project which is frequently used by Human Rights Watch as source concludes:"[T]here is no indication that senior Shura-e Nazar leaders [including Massoud] ordered abuses."—Afghanistan Justice Project
In those cases where crimes were committed by individuals fighting inside his troops, reports point out the responsibility of corrupted sub-commanders or individuals who used the chaos for their own purposes. John Jennings, a journalist from the Associated Press (AP) and The Economist, who was on the ground in Kabul from 1992 to 1994 and was considered as a reliable source by Human Rights Watch, concluded:"He [Massoud] can hardly be blamed for the presence of irresponsible armed groups in the capital, having done everything within his power to prevent it. Until November 1994, I witnessed firsthand the resulting dilemmas he faced, the amazing restraint with which he met them, and the almost willfully feckless manner in which absentee Western "observers" based in Pakistan distorted the situation in accord with ISI [Pakistan intelligence service] propaganda. ... Any popular movement, if it is truly popular, is going to harbor a criminal element, just because any large population harbors a criminal element. It is unrealistic to expect zero crimes. Yet Afghans, even Massoud's enemies, know that abuses by his troops were rare and punished as often as they were caught. ... His enemies on the other hand undertook mass murder, looting, and ethnic cleansing as a matter of policy. ... Had Massoud not fought to hold on to Kabul, the human rights situation in Afghanistan and throughout the region would have been vastly worse than it was."—John Jennings, Associated Press
Edward Girardet, director of the Global Journalism Network in Geneva, explained:"When Massoud operated in the north during the fight against the Soviets, and towards the end of the Taliban period, his Northern Front commanders he watched quite closely and controlled well, but in Kabul, no. ... He could not control all of them."—Edward Girardet, Global Journalism Network Geneva
In contrast to the time of chaos in Kabul, Human Rights Watch cites no human rights crimes for troops under the direct control of Massoud from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001. But from 1992 to 1995, due to the sudden initiation of the wars and the decentralized power structures, working government departments, a police or a system of justice and accountability for the newly created Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to form. An Afghan observer described the situation during that time:"Massoud was always talking to his people about not behaving badly; he told them that they were accountable to their God. But because of the rocket attacks on the city the number of troops had to be increased, so there were ten or twelve thousand troops from other sources that came in ... He [Massoud] not only did not order any [crimes], but he was deeply distressed by them. I remember once ... Massoud commented that some commanders were behaving badly, and said that he was trying to bring them to justice ..."—Eng. Mohammad Eshaq, in "Massoud" (Webster University Press 2009)
Farid Amin reports the following exemplary incident:"One day he [Massoud] was going from Kabul to Shamali, and he saw a trailer truck and somehow got suspicious. He stopped it, and when they opened the back there were goods in it, things that belonged to other people, probably taken from houses or government offices. He accused them: "You are thieves, you are trying to steal." Then he saw his own picture in the back of their truck - you know that people tried to use Massoud's name and picture to gain power or to take advantage of things - and he said, "First remove that picture of your leader, the leader of thieves." In his way he was telling them, listen if you say I am your leader and you do these things, that is what you make me - a leader of thieves."—Farid Amin, in "Massoud" (Webster University Press 2009)
Meanwhile there were also reports that individuals loyal to Massoud were helping civilians caught in crossfire or warning civilians of impeding attacks.
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 themselves. 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 into 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.
Meanwhile, southern Afghanistan was neither under the control of foreign-backed militias nor the government in Kabul, but was ruled by local 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. Mullah Omar started his movement with fewer than 50 armed madrassah students in his hometown of Kandahar. When the Taliban took control of the city 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.
In late 1994, most of the militia factions (Hezb-i Islami, Junbish-i Milli and Hezb-i Wahdat) which had been fighting in the battle for control of Kabul were defeated militarily by forces of the Islamic State's Secretary of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. Bombardment of the capital came to a halt. The Islamic State government took steps to restore law and order. Courts started to work again also convicting individuals inside government troops who had committed crimes. Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation and democratic elections. A conference in three parts was arranged by Massoud. He united political and cultural personalities, governors, commanders, clergymen and representatives, in order to reach a lasting agreement. Massoud, like most people in Afghanistan, saw this conference as a small hope for democracy and for free elections. His 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. Up until then the Islamic State's reach had been limited. Massoud was now trying to put a consolidation process into action to unite Afghanistan. He also invited the Taliban to join the process wanting them to be a partner in providing stability to Afghanistan during such a process. Massoud unarmed went to talk to some Taliban leaders in Maidan Shar. But the Taliban declined to join a process leading towards democratic elections. When Massoud returned to Kabul unharmed, the Taliban leader who had received him as his guest paid with his life: he was killed by other senior Taliban for failing to assassinate Massoud while the possibility had presented itself.
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 which the Taliban decline. The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Ahmad Shah Massoud. (see video) Amnesty International, referring to the Taliban offensive, wrote in a 1995 report:"This is the first time in several months that Kabul civilians have become the targets of rocket attacks and shelling aimed at residential areas in the city."—Amnesty International, 1995
The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses. Pakistan provided strong support to the Taliban. 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 seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Massoud and his troops retreated to the northeast of Afghanistan.
Resistance against the Taliban (1996-2001)
“ For me, north, south, Persian, Pashto is absolutely meaningless. In our home we can talk in every language. ”
Ahmad Shah Massoud created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban that were preparing offensives against the areas under the control of Massoud and against those under the control of other regional leaders. (see video) The United Front included forces and leaders from different political backgrounds as well as from all ethnicities of Afghanistan including Tajiks, Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Hazaras or Turkmens. 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.
Massoud did not intend for the United Front to become the ruling government of Afghanistan. His vision was for the United Front to help establish a new government, where the various ethnic groups would share power and live in peace through a democratic form of government. Massoud told Roger L. Plunk, George Washington University author of the Wandering Peacemaker and international mediator, that his dream was of "an Afghanistan at peace with itself, and of the Panjshir Valley, which had been stripped of many of its trees, being once again full of flowering almond trees and laughing children."
Meanwhile, the Taliban imposed on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative."To PHR's knowledge, no other regime in the world has [like the Taliban do] methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment...."—Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), in "The Taliban's War on Women" (1998)
Women were required to wear the all-covering Afghan burqa, denied access to health care and education, windows needed to be covered so that women could not be seen from the outside and they were not allowed to laugh in a manner they could be heard by others. The Taliban, without any real judicial process, cut people's hands or arms off when accused of stealing. Taliban hit-squads watched the streets conducting arbitrary brutal public beatings.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf - then as Army Chief of Staff - was responsible for sending thousands of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban and their ally Osama Bin Laden against the forces of Massoud. In total there were believed to be 28,000 Pakistani nationals fighting inside Afghanistan against the forces of Massoud. 20,000 were regular Pakistani soldiers either from the Frontier Corps or army and an estimated 8,000 were militants recruited in madrassas filling regular Taliban ranks. The estimated 25,000 Taliban regular force thus comprised more than 8,000 Pakistani nationals. A 1998 document by the U.S. State Department confirms that "20-40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani." The document further states that the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan." Further 3,000 fighters of the regular Taliban army were Arab and Central Asian Al Qaeda militants. Of roughly 45,000 Pakistani, Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers fighting against the forces of Massoud only 14,000 were Afghan (Taliban).
According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. They also said, that "[t]hese have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the [Taliban] Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar himself."
From 1996 to 2001 Al Qaeda, as led by of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, became a state within the Taliban state. Bin Laden sent Arab recruits to join the fight against the United Front. His so-called 055 Brigade was responsible for mass killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the United Nations quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.
In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Many civilians fled to the area of Ahmad Shah Massoud. National Geographic concluded in its documentary "Inside the Taliban":"The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud."—National Geographic, "Inside the Taliban"
In 1998, 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. The Taliban repeatedly offered Massoud a position of power to make him stop his resistance. Massoud declined. He explained in one interview:"The Taliban say: 'Come and accept the post of prime minister and be with us', and they would keep the highest office in the country, the presidentship. But for what price?! The difference between us concerns mainly our way of thinking about the very principles of the society and the state. We can not accept their conditions of compromise, or else we would have to give up the principles of modern democracy. We are fundamentally against the system called 'the Emirate of Afghanistan'."—Ahmad Shah Massoud, 2001"There should be an Afghanistan where every Afghan finds himself or herself happy. And I think that can only be assured by democracy based on consensus."—Ahmad Shah Massoud, 2001
Massoud wanted to convince the Taliban to join a political process leading towards democratic elections in a foreseeable future. His proposals for peace can be seen here: Proposal for Peace, promoted by Commander Massoud. He also stated:"The Taliban are not a force to be considered invincible. They are distanced from the people now [in 2001]. They are weaker than in the past. There is only the assistance given by Pakistan, Osama bin Laden and other extremist groups that keep the Taliban on their feet. With a halt to that assistance, it is extremely difficult to survive."—Ahmad Shah Massoud, 2001
American journalist Sebastian Junger who frequently travels to war zones stated in March 2001:"They [the Taliban] receive a tremendous amount of support by Pakistan... without that involvement by Pakistan the Taliban would really be forced to negotiate...."—Sebastian Junger, on 'Charlie Rose' (2001)
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 addressed the European Parliament in Brussels asking the international community to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan. see video 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 this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent.
The areas of Massoud
Life in the areas under direct control of Massoud was different from the life in the areas under Taliban or i. e. Dostum's control. (see video) In contrast to the time of chaos in which all structures had collapsed in Kabul, Massoud was able to control his troops very well during the period starting in late 1996. Human Rights Watch notes no human rights crimes for Massoud's troops in the period from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001.
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.
Massoud created democratic institutions which were structured into several committees: political, health, education and economic. Still, many people came to him personally when they had a dispute or problem and asked him to solve their problems.
Massoud also signed the Women's Rights Declaration. In the area 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, girl 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. To Massoud there was reportedly nothing worse than treating a person like an object.
“ It is our conviction and we believe that both men and women are created by the Almighty. Both have equal rights. Women can pursue an education, women can pursue a career, and women can play a role in society -- just like men. ”
While it was Massoud's stated personal conviction that men and women are equal and should enjoy the same rights, he also had to deal with Afghan traditions which he said would need a generation or more to overcome. In his opinion that could only be achieved through education. Author Pepe Escobar wrote in Massoud: From Warrior to Statesman:"Massoud is adamant that in Afghanistan women have suffered oppression for generations. He says that 'the cultural environment of the country suffocates women. But the Taliban exacerbate this with oppression.' His most ambitious project is to shatter this cultural prejudice and so give more space, freedom and equality to women -- they would have the same rights as men."—Pepe Escobar, in 'Massoud: From Warrior to Statesman'
Humayun Tandar, who took part as a 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."
U.S. policy regarding Massoud, the Taliban and Afghanistan remains ambiguous and differed between the various U.S. government agencies.
In 1997, U.S. State Department's Robin Raphel told Massoud to surrender to the Taliban. She obtained a clear answer with Massoud stating that as long as he controlled an area the size of his hat he would continue to defend it from the Taliban. Robin Raphel eventually became a lobbyist and adviser at Cassidy & Associates. The firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Musharraf military regime of Pakistan. At Cassidy & Associates she lobbied and advised Congress and the State Department for Pakistan on issues such as Afghan policy, Pakistan's relations with India, judicial independence and U.S. perceptions and congressional views of the Pakistan government. In late 2009 Raphel was (again) appointed to the Af-Pak region as deputy to Richard Holbrooke, the US. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, by the Obama administration. Raphel will be the main person overlooking the $1.5 billion U.S. aid package "for non-military purpose" to Pakistan.
At one point in the war, in 1997, the Taliban were vulnerable and the road to the capital, Kabul, was wide open. Two top foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration flew to northern Afghanistan to convince - without success - the United Front not to take advantage of a opportunity to make crucial gains against the Taliban. Before the United Front could strike, Assistant Secretary of State Rick Indefurth and American U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson flew to northern Afghanistan and tried to convince the leadership of the United Front that this was not the time for an offensive. Instead, they insisted this was the time for a cease-fire and an arms embargo. At the same time Pakistanis began a "Berlin-like airlift to resupply and re-equip the Taliban", financed with Saudi money.
On another note an analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Julie Sirrs, had visited Afghanistan, but only in those areas controlled by the Taliban. After returning, she had realized that this was a one-dimensional view of Afghanistan and there were gaping holes in the DOD's understanding of the situation. In 1998, she requested to officially go back to northern Afghanistan to the areas controlled by Commander Massoud. Subsequently she was denied the permission to go there. So she went to the Panjshir Valley on her vacation and paid the journey on herself (in 1998). U.S. congressman Dana Rohrabacher describes:"When she got to the Panjshir Valley, she found... something vital to America's security was happening, something she was not really able to discover when she visited the Taliban-controlled areas before. Commander Massoud told her that he was facing a new enemy in Afghanistan [meaning foreign esp. Arab forces].... Apparently, bin Laden, who was making Afghanistan into his base of operations, was importing Islamic radicals from all over the world, training them as terrorists and killers and then sending them up against Massoud's troops.... She only had a short time, but she collected enough information for a preliminary report, and she headed home. The minute she got back, she found herself under severe restrictions at the Defense Intelligence Agency and restricted to whom she could brief or show any of her reports.... The commanding officer of the DIA labeled her as insubordinate, he fired her; and when she fought her dismissal, he set out to destroy her. Amidst the fight to save her job, the DIA commanding officer told her what really upset him most was her contact with Massoud, who, according to the DIA general, was one of the bad guys. This general was sending his people to be briefed by the Taliban, but any contact with Massoud was a cause for dismissal.... It was a mind set of the man who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency. Something is terribly wrong with this picture."—U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, to U.S. Congress in 2004
In the meantime, the only collaboration between Massoud and another U.S. intelligence service, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), consisted of an effort to trace Osama bin Laden following the 1998 embassy bombings. The U.S. and the European Union provided no support to Massoud for the fight against the Taliban.
A change of policy, lobbied for by CIA officers on the ground who had visited the area of Massoud, regarding support to Massoud was underway in the course of 2001. According to Steve Coll's book "Ghost Wars" (who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction):"The CIA officers admired Massoud greatly. They saw him as a Che Guevara figure, a great actor on history's stage. Massoud was a poet, a military genius, a religious man, and a leader of enormous courage who defied death and accepted its inevitability, they thought.... In his house there were thousands of books: Persian poetry, histories of the Afghan war in multiple languages, biographies of other military and guerilla leaders. In their meetings Massoud wove sophisticated, measured references to Afghan history and global politics into his arguments. He was quiet, forceful, reserved, and full of dignity, but also light in spirit. The CIA team had gone into the Panshjir as unabashed admirers of Massoud. Now their convictions deepened...."—Steve Coll, in "Ghost Wars"
U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher also recalled: "[B]etween Bush's inauguration and 9/11, I met with the new national security staff on 3 occasions, including one meeting with Condoleezza Rice to discuss Afghanistan. There were, in fact, signs noted in an overview story in The Washington Post about a month ago that some steps were being made to break away from the previous administration's Afghan policy." 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.
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 US$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. 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 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 huge-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil being imminent.
Massoud, then aged 48, was the target of a suicide attack at Khwaja Bahauddin, 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. However, 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 that was composed of explosives hidden in the camera and in a battery pack belt. Commander Massoud died in a helicopter that was taking him to a military field hospital 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 also killed by the explosion while Dahmane 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, however, 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 happening in a rather rural area, was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. (see video).
Afghan journalist Fahim Dashty summarized: "He was the only one, ever, to serve Afghanistan, to serve Afghans. To do a lot of things for Afghanistan, for Afghans. And we lost him." (see video)
Until he was assassinated, Massoud had survived assassination attempts for 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 only 22 years old. In early 2001 Al Qaeda would-be assassins were captured by Massoud's forces while trying to enter his territory.
Connection to September 11, 2001
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 and which appeared to be the terrorist attack that Massoud had warned against in his speech to the European Parliament several months earlier.
John P. O'Neill was a counter-terrorism expert and the Assistant Director of the FBI until late 2001. He retired from the FBI and was offered the position of director of security at the World Trade Center (WTC). He took the job at the WTC two weeks before 9/11. On September 10, 2001, John O'Neill told two of his friends, "We're due. And we're due for something big.... Some things have happened in Afghanistan. [referring to the assassination of Massoud] I don't like the way things are lining up in Afghanistan.... I sense a shift, and I think things are going to happen... soon." John O'Neill died on September 11, 2001, when the south tower collapsed.
U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher would later claim that he immediately saw the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud as a sign that "something terrible [was] about to happen." Rohrabacher recounted his convictions in a 2004 speech to congress: "As I mourned his loss, I struggled to fully understand the significance of his death. Then it dawned on me. It dawned on me why Massoud had been assassinated. America was going to be attacked. It would be so monstrous that bin Laden's gang in Afghanistan wanted to cut us off from a means of counterattacking them in their base of operations in Afghanistan. We would have turned to Massoud if we were attacked. That is what we would have done, and they were cutting us off from turning to Massoud, but now Massoud was dead. Perhaps his death was a signal to set the planned attack on our country in motion...."
Analysts believe Osama bin Laden ordered the assassination to help his Taliban protectors and ensure he would have their protection and co-operation in Afghanistan. Following the assassination, Osama bin Laden had an emissary deliver a cassette of Dahmane speaking of his love for his wife and his decision to blow himself up as well as $500 in an envelope to settle a debt, to the assassin's widow. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan Wahhabi Islamist, have also been mentioned as possible organizers or collaborators of the Massoud assassins. The assassins are said to have entered United Front (Northern Alliance) territory under the auspices of the Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and had his assistance in bypassing "normal security procedures."
In April 2003, the Karzai administration announced the setup of a commission to investigate the assassination of Massoud, as the country celebrated the 11th anniversary of the defeat of the communist government The French secret service revealed on October 16, 2003 that the camera used by Massoud's assassins had been stolen in December 2000 in Grenoble, France from a photojournalist, Jean-Pierre Vincendet, who was then working on a story on that city's Christmas store window displays. By tracing the camera's serial number, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to determine that Vincendet was its original owner. The French secret service and the FBI then began working on tracing the route the camera took between the time it was taken from Vincendet and the Massoud assassination.
National Hero of Afghanistan
“ Massoud's personal mysticism led him to fight without hatred, bitterness, or spirit of revenge, regarding armed conflict only as an imposed and necessary evil in order to defend his people's freedom, certainly not as an end in itself to be enjoyed as bloodlust or intoxication with power. He always provided protection for humanitarian relief in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, looked for reconciliation with defeated enemies, and invariably treated his war prisoners with humanity and dignity. To this I was witness ... Such moral integrity in the midst of warfare ranks Massoud as one of the very few « philosopher kings » in history, that is, men who have been forced to wage war so as to protect their nation and people, but who detested war in itself and sought no personal political gain. ”
Massoud was the only main Afghan leader who never left Afghanistan in the fight against the Soviet Union and later in the fight against the Taliban Emirate. The National Geographic about that time concluded: "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres [was] Ahmad Shah Massoud." (see video) 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". About his life in Massoud's area he stated:"I feel freedom here. I like... you know, nobody bothers me. I do my job. I take care of my family. The way which I like I live in this area."
In 2001, the Afghan Interim Government under president Hamid Karzai officially awarded Massoud the title of "Hero of the Afghan Nation". One analyst in 2004 put it this way: "One man holds a greater political punch than all 18 living [Afghan] presidential candidates combined. Though already dead for three years.... Since his death on September 9, 2001 at the hands of two al Qaeda-linked Islamic radicals, Massoud has been transformed from mujahedin to national hero—if not saint. Pictures of Massoud, the Afghan mujahedin who battled the Soviets, other warlords, and the Taliban for more than 20 years, vastly outnumber those of any other Afghan including those of Karzai." Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, one of the closest friends of Massoud, was Karzai's strongest rival in the Afghan Presidential Elections of 2009. Dr. Abdullah said about Massoud: "He was everything. He was a friend. He was a leader. He was a teacher without acting as a teacher."
Journalist Sebastian Junger reports: "A lot of people who knew him felt that he was the best hope for that part of the world." Junger who traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to profile Massoud further states: "Afghanistan's government has been accused of being corrupt and weak. Massoud had a reputation for integrity and strength.... He would have been very hard for the [insurgents] to intimidate." Shorish-Shamley, a women's rights activist, says: "If they [al Qaeda leaders] were hiding under a rock, he would have found them. He was that type of person. He would have found bin Laden." Among supporters of the Taliban or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami he is obviously seen differently. Still, a 2009 CNN report concludes: "He remains today a hero on the streets of Kabul among a people who have more faith in a leader from the past than the leaders of the future." (see video)
Today Panjshir - the home of Massoud - "is arguably the most peaceful place in the entire country. A small US military reconstruction team is based here, but there are none of the signs of foreign occupation that exist elsewhere. Even Afghan soldiers are few and far between. Instead, the people like to boast about how they keep their own security," observes the United Arab Emirates newspaper The National. The people of Panjshir (and Takhar) remain realistic however: "We are very sure that if they [the Taliban] come back they will not leave one man in Panjshir alive. If we don't fight they will kill us, so if we fight we will at least die with glory." The National further states: "Those who knew him say he would never have accepted the Taliban's return to power and they have vowed to defend his memory."
Many documentaries, books and movies have been made about Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud is the subject of Ken Follett's Lie Down With Lions, a novel about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He also plays a significant role in James McGee's thriller Crow's War. Another is Fire by Sebastian Junger. Junger was one of the last Western journalists to interview Massoud in depth. The bulk of this interview was first published in March 2001 for National Geographic's Adventure Magazine, along with photographs by the renowned Iranian photographer Reza Deghati.
The Massoud Foundation was established in 2003, as an independent, non-aligned, non-profitable and non-political organization by people who have been affected by Massoud. It provides humanitarian assistance to Afghans especially in the fields of health care and education. It also runs programs in the fields of culture, construction, agriculture and welfare.
Lion of Panjshir
Massoud was named "The Afghan who won the cold war" by the Wall Street Journal. He defeated the Soviet Red Army nine times in the Panjshir. The Soviet Union's defeat was not only a defeat in Afghanistan, but led to the collapse of the Soviet system and was followed by the liberation of the Central Asian and Eastern European countries from Moscow's control. His struggle against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan earned him the name "Lion of Panjshir".
"Lion of Panjshir", is a rhyme and play on words in Persian, which alludes to the strength of his resistance against the Soviet Union, the mythological exaltation of the lion in Persian literature, and finally, the place name of the Panjshir Valley, where Massoud was born. The place name of "Panjshir" Valley in Persian means (Valley of the) Five Lions. Thus, the phrase "Lion of Panjshir", which in Persian is "Shir-e-Panjshir," شیر پنجشیر is a rhyming play on words, with the connotation "Lion of the Five Lions".
Warning the world (September 11, 2001)
In spring 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud addressed the European Parliament in Brussels stating that behind the situation in Afghanistan there was the regime in Pakistan. He also stated his conviction that without the support of Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden and Saudi Arabia, the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year, also because the Afghan population was ready to rise against them. Addressing the United States specifically he issued the warning that should the U.S. not work for peace in Afghanistan and put pressure on Pakistan to cease their support to the Taliban, the problems of Afghanistan would soon become the problems of the U.S. and the world.
Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency documents from November 2001 show that Massoud had gained "limited knowledge... regarding the intentions of [al-Qaeda] to perform a terrorist act against the US on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania." They also point out that he warned about such attacks.
In 2002, French singer-songwriter and author Damien Saez wrote a song about 9/11 entitled "Massoud". He was also featured in the ABC Television mini-series The Path to 9/11, which aired commercial-free in the USA in 2006, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The mini-series depicts Massoud warning U.S. intelligence agents of the coming U.S. attack by al-Qaeda and Massoud's September 9, 2001 assassination.
Massoud was married to Sediqa Massoud. They have one son (Ahmad 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).
Massoud's wife and his children live in Iran. 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) called "Pour l'amour de Massoud" (For the love of Massoud) in which she describes a very decent and loving husband.
After his death, Massoud was interred in a mausoleum in Panjshir Valley. A larger mausoleum is currently being constructed to replace the current one.
A major road in Kabul was named Great Massoud Road, and just outside the US Embassy stands a monument to Massoud.
The family has a great deal of prestige in the politics of Afghanistan. One of his six brothers, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was a vice-president of Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai. There have been unsuccessful attempts 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.
Another brother, Ahmad Wali Massoud, was Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2002 to 2006. He founded the Nahzat-e-Mili political party which is now known as the National Movement of Afghanistan party.
- Marcela Grad (2009): Massoud: An Intimate Portrait of the Legendary Afghan Leader; Webster University Press, 310pp
- Sediqa Massoud with Chékéba Hachemi and Marie-Francoise Colombani (2005): Pour l'amour de Massoud; Document XO Editions, 265pp (in French)
- Amin Saikal (2006): Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival; I. B. Tauris, 352pp ("One of the "Five Best" Books on Afghanistan" - Wall Street Journal)
- Roy Gutman (2008): How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan; United States Institute of Peace Press, 304pp
- Coll, Steve (2004): Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 9, 2001; Penguin Press, 695pp, ISBN 1-59420-007-6. (won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction)
- Stephen Tanner: Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban
- Christophe de Ponfilly (2001): Massoud l'Afghan; Gallimard, 437pp (in French)
- Gary W. Bowersox (2004): The Gem Hunter-True Adventures of an American in Afghanistan; Geovision, Inc. (January 22, 2004), ISBN 978-0974732312.
- Gary C. Schroen (2005): 'First In' An Insiders Account of How The CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan; New York: Presido Press/Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-89141-872-6.
- Peter Bergen: Holy War, Inc.
- Ahmed Rashid: TALIBAN - The Story of the Afghan Warlords; ISBN 0-330-49221-7.
- A. R. Rowan: On The Trail Of A Lion: Ahmed Shah Massoud, Oil Politics and Terror
- MaryAnn T. Beverly (2007): From That Flame; Kallisti Publishing
- Roger Plunk: The Wandering Peacemaker
- References to Massoud appear in the book "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini.
- Amrullah Saleh
- Abdullah Abdullah
- Massoud Khalili
- Malika El Aroud
- Reagan Doctrine
- Sebastian Junger's "Fire"
- James McGee Novel "Crow's War"
Notes and references
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Marcela Grad. Massoud: An Intimate Portrait of the Legendary Afghan Leader (March 1, 2009 ed.). Webster University Press. p. 310.
- ^ a b c "Charlie Rose March 26, 2001". CBS. 2001. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2911290068493351924#.
- ^ Afghanistan Events, Lonely Planet Travel Guide.
- ^ Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars. pp. 109.
- ^ Accueil
- ^ a b Biography: Lion of Panjshir Ahmad Shah Massoud.
- ^ "Biography: Ahmad Shah Massoud", http://www.afgha.com/, August 31, 2006.
- ^ Isby, David (1989). War in a distant country, Afghanistan: invasion and resistance. Arms and Armour Press. p. 107. ISBN 0 85368 769 2.
- ^ Sebastian Junger Under Fire by Ted Chamberlain, National Geographic
- ^ a b van Voorst, Bruce; Iyer, Pico; Aftab, Mohammad (May 7, 1984). "Afghanistan: The bear descends on the lion". Time (New York). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,954295,00.html.
- ^ Roy, p.199.
- ^ Barry, Michael (2002). Massoud, de l'islamisme à la liberté, p. 216. Paris: Audibert. (French) ISBN 2-84749-002-7
- ^ Bowersox, Gary; Snee, Lawrence; Foord, Eugene; Seal, Robert (1991). "Emeralds of the Panjshir valley, Afghanistan". www.gems-afghan.com. http://www.gems-afghan.com/articles/page26a.jpg. Retrieved August 17, 2007.
- ^ "Le pouvoir des seigneurs de guerre et la situation sécuritaire en Afghanistan" (in French). Commission des Recours des Réfugiés. http://www.commission-refugies.fr/IMG/pdf/Afghanistan-les_seigneurs_de_guerre.pdf. Retrieved August 16, 2007.
- ^ Davies, L. Will; Shariat, Abdullah (2004). Fighting Masoud's war, Melbourne: Lothian, p. 200. ISBN 0-7344-0590-1
- ^ Barry, p.194.
- ^ Roy, p.201.
- ^ Roy, p.213.
- ^ Isby, p.98.
- ^ Roy, p.202.
- ^ Phillips, James A. (May 18, 1992). "Winning the Endgame in Afghanistan", Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #181.
- ^ Johns, Michael (January 19, 2008). "Charlie Wilson's War Was Really America's War".
- ^ a b c d The Fall of Kabul, April 1992, Library of Congress country studies. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
- ^ a b c d e f "Blood-Stained Hands, Past Atrocities in Kabul and Afghanistan's Legacy of Impunity". Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2005/07/06/blood-stained-hands.
- ^ Neamatollah Nojumi. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region (2002 1st ed.). Palgrave, New York.
- ^ a b c d e f g Amin Saikal. Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (2006 1st ed.). I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., London New York. p. 352. ISBN 1-85043-437-9.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j "9/11 Represented a Dramatic Failure of Policy and People". U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. 2004. http://rohrabacher.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=17093.
- ^ "We believe in truth.". policypage/NMNG. 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzL4YdxLjNA&feature=search.
- ^ a b GUTMAN, Roy (2008): How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and the Hijacking of Afghanistan, Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace, 1st ed., Washington D.C.
- ^ a b "The September 11 Sourcebooks Volume VII: The Taliban File". gwu.edu. 2003. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB97/.
- ^ a b c d e f "Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: 1978-2001". Afghanistan Justice Project. 2005. http://www.afghanistanjusticeproject.org/warcrimesandcrimesagainsthumanity19782001.pdf.
- ^ a b c "II. BACKGROUND". Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/reports98/afghan/Afrepor0-01.htm#P81_13959.
- ^ a b c d e Newsday (October 2001). "Taliban massacres outlined for UN". Chicago Tribune. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-10-12/news/0110120312_1_taliban-fighters-massacres-in-recent-years-mullah-mohammed-omar. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- ^ a b c d e Newsday (2001). "Confidential UN report details mass killings of civilian villagers". newsday.org. http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/massacre.htm. Retrieved 2001-10-12.
- ^ Afghanistan Online: Biography Ahmad Shah Massoud
- ^ a b Matinuddin, Kamal, The Taliban Phenomenon, Afghanistan 1994–1997, Oxford University Press, (1999), pp.25–6
- ^ a b c Amnesty International. "DOCUMENT - AFGHANISTAN: FURTHER INFORMATION ON FEAR FOR SAFETY AND NEW CONCERN: DELIBERATE AND ARBITRARY KILLINGS: CIVILIANS IN KABUL." 16 November 1995 Accessed at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA11/015/1995/en/6d874caa-eb2a-11dd-92ac-295bdf97101f/asa110151995en.html
- ^ "Afghanistan: escalation of indiscriminate shelling in Kabul". International Committee of the Red Cross. 1995. http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/57jly2.htm.
- ^ BBC Newsnight 1995 on YouTube
- ^ a b c d "Documents Detail Years of Pakistani Support for Taliban, Extremists". George Washington University. 2007. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB227/index.htm#17.
- ^ Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin, 2005), 14.
- ^ "As the Taliban Finish Off Foes, Iran Is Looming"
- ^ "Afghan 'Lion' Fights Taliban With Rifle and Fax Machine"
- ^ "Afghan Driven From Kabul Makes Stand in North"
- ^ a b c d e "The Taliban's War on Women. A Health and Human Rights Crisis in Afghanistan". Physicians for Human Rights. 1998. http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/documents/reports/talibans-war-on-women.pdf.
- ^ a b c d "Inside the Taliban". National Geographic. 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpQI6HKV-ZY.
- ^ a b "History Commons". History Commons. 2010. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=ahmed_shah_massoud.
- ^ a b c d e "Afghanistan resistance leader feared dead in blast". Ahmed Rashid in the Telegraph. 2001. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1340244/Afghanistan-resistance-leader-feared-dead-in-blast.html.
- ^ a b "BOOK REVIEW: The inside track on Afghan wars by Khaled Ahmed". Daily Times. 2008. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\08\31\story_31-8-2008_pg3_4.
- ^ a b c d e f g h "Brigade 055". CNN. unknown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grugy2txSvc&feature=search.
- ^ a b c d e "Massoud in the European Parliament 2001". EU media. 2001. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t78N6Q5VD60.
- ^ "Inside the Taliban". National Geographic. 2007. http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/inside-the-taliban-3274/Overview.
- ^ a b "The Last Interview with Ahmad Shah Massoud". Piotr Balcerowicz. 2001. http://www.orient.uw.edu.pl/balcerowicz/texts/Ahmad_Shah_Masood_en.htm.
- ^ a b "The man who would have led Afghanistan". St. Petersburg Times. 2002. http://www.sptimes.com/2002/09/09/911/The_man_who_would_hav.shtml.
- ^ [ttp://www.peace-initiatives.com/frame.htm "Proposal for Peace, promoted by Commander Massoud"]. peace-initiatives.com. 1998. ttp://www.peace-initiatives.com/frame.htm.
- ^ a b c d e f g Steve Coll. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (February 23, 2004 ed.). Penguin Press HC. p. 720.
- ^ "Massoud in the European Parliament 2001". EU media. 2001. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1iCsEnXdIw.
- ^ a b c Boettcher, Mike (November 6, 2003). "How much did Afghan leader know?". CNN.com. http://articles.cnn.com/2003-11-06/us/massoud.cable_1_bin-qaeda-sheikh-osama?_s=PM:US. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- ^ a b c "Despite Obama Ban, Official's Lobbyist Past No Obstacle". The National Law Journal. 2010. http://www.law.com/jsp/law/international/LawArticleIntl.jsp?id=1202439488447.
- ^ Risen, James. "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration", 2006
- ^ Peter Pigott: Canada in Afghanistan
- ^ Duncan Mcleod: India and Pakistan
- ^ "April 6, 2001: Rebel Leader Warns Europe and US About Large-Scale Imminent Al-Qaeda Attacks". History Commons. http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/context.jsp?item=a040601massoudspeech#a040601massoudspeech. Retrieved May 17, 2007.
- ^ "Taliban Foe Hurt and Aide Killed by Bomb"
- ^ "THREATS AND RESPONSES: ASSASSINATION; Afghans, Too, Mark a Day of Disaster: A Hero Was Lost"
- ^ Pinto, Maria do Ceu. "Islamist and Middle Eastern Terrorism: A Threat to Europe?". p. 72.
- ^ http://www.timofranc.com/LION%20OF%20PANJSHIR.PDF
- ^ http://www.india-defence.com/reports-3550
- ^ "Rebel Chief Who Fought The Taliban Is Buried"
- ^ a b "The Man Who Knew". PBS. 2002. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/knew/etc/script.html.
- ^ "Suicide Bomber's Widow Soldiers On" http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/08/15/elaroud/index.html
- ^ a b Anderson, Jon Lee (June 10, 2002). "The assassins", The New Yorker, Vol.78, Iss. 15; p. 72.
- ^ "AFTEREFFECTS: Briefly Noted; AFGHAN PANEL TO INVESTIGATE MASSOUD'S DEATH"
- ^ "TV camera rigged to kill Afghan rebel Masood stolen in France: police", Agence France-Presse, October 16, 2003.
- ^ Thoughts on Commander Massoud by Princeton University Prof. Michael Barry
- ^ a b "Massoud's Last Stand". Journeyman Pictures/ABC Australia. 1997. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvYglyjbHkI.
- ^ a b "Playing the Massoud card". Eurasianet.org. 2004. http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav101304.shtml.
- ^ "He would have found Bin Laden". CNN. 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYmRVY0eWhk&feature=search.
- ^ a b c "Reconciliation plans worry Afghans in the north". The National. 2010. http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100810/FOREIGN/708099910/1135/editorials.
- ^ Defense Intelligence Agency (2001) report http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB97/tal32.pdf
- ^ Ahmad Shah Massoud's warning to the United States, The Path to 9/11 (video clip).
- ^ Assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, The Path to 9/11.
- ^ Associated Press Report on YouTube
- ^ Solutions to Security Challenges: Interview with Ahmad Wali Massoud, Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, 1 November 2007
- ^ Afghanistan, Government, Political parties, CIA World Factbook 2009
- ^ Afghanistan, Government, Political parties, CIA World Factbook 2010, last updated April 25, 2011
Government offices Preceded by
Mohammad Aslam Watanjar
Minister of Defense
June 1992 – September 2001
- Massoud's Letter To The People Of America 1998
- Proposal for Peace, promoted by Commander Massoud, in English in Dari (Persian), April 19, 1998
- Works by or about Ahmad Shah Massoud in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Ahmad Shah Massoud at the Open Directory Project
- The Last Interview with Ahmad Shah Massoud Piotr Balcerowicz, early August 2001
- "Breakfast with Massoud" by Roger Plunk The Source, December 1, 2001
- Obituaries and articles
- Ahmad Shah Massoud collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Ahmad Shah Mas’ud (1953-2001), Bharat Rakshak Monitor, November–December 2001
- Remembering Massoud, a fighter for peace, The New York Times, September 10, 2002
- The Assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud Paul Wolf, Global Research, 14 September 2003
- 60 Years of Asian Heroes: Ahmad Shah Massoud Time, 2006
- Profile: Afghanistan's 'Lion Of Panjshir' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 5, 2006
- Afghan Commander Massoud, Killed on Eve of 9/11 Attacks, is a National Hero by The LA Times, 22 September 2010
- Afghanistan - the Squandered Victory (documentary film) by the BBC
(documentary film directly from the year 1989 explaining the beginning of the turmoil to follow)
- Commander Massoud's Struggle (documentary film) by Nagakura Hiromi
(from 1992: one month after the fall of the communist regime, after Hekmatyar had been expelled to the southern outskirts of Kabul, before he restarted his heavy bombardment of Kabul with Pakistani support)
- Hekmatyar attacks Kabul but is repelled on YouTube
- Massoud is popular among the people who also trust him to rebuild their country on YouTube
- Massoud tries to prevent war between Ittehad and Wahdat on YouTube
- Massoud talks about his convictions on YouTube
- Massoud's Conversation with Hekmatyar (original document of 1992)
- Ahmad Shah Massoud - Destiny's Afghan (documentary film) by Iqbal Malhotra
- Massoud l'Afghan (documentary film) by Christophe de Ponfilly
- Massoud l'Afghan part 1 on YouTube
- New York Times Film Review
- rottentomatoes.com Film Review
- Theatrical Release
- Who Killed Massoud? (documentary film) by Didier Martiny
- The Lion Of Panjshir (Symphony No. 2) for narrator and symphonic band by composer David Gaines
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