Skip to comments.Biography: Ahmad Shah Massoud
Posted on 09/11/2006 10:39:32 PM PDT by HAL9000
Ahmed Shah Masood (c. 1953September 9, 2001) (variant transliterations include Ahmad, Massoud, etc.) was a Kabul University engineering student turned Afghan military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the nickname Lion of Panjshir.
Various transliterations include: Ahmad / Ahmed / Akhmad / Achmad, Shah / Schah / Chah, Massoud / Massud / Massood / Masud.
Ahmad Shah Massoud was born 10.06.1332 (01.09.1953) in Jangalak/ Panjsheras son of police commander Dost Mohammad Khan. At the age of five, he started grammar school at 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 got religious education at the so-called Masjed-e-Jame" mosque in Herat. Later his father was moved to Kabul so he attended intermediate and senior grades at the Isteqlaal School in Kabul.
Since his childhood, he was considered exceedingly talented; from 10th grade on his school acknowledged his being a particularly gifted student.
His native tongue was Persian, but he was also fluent in French, Pashto, and Urdu. Furthermore, he had a good working knowledge of the Arabic language.
Massoud: For me, North, South, Persian, Pashto is absolutely meaningless. In our home, we can talk in every language.
He always inspired his peers with his love for culture and sports.
1346/47 (1967/68), the then 14 year old Massoud put together the first volleyball team in his home-village Jangalak. During summer breaks, he organized volleyball tournaments that were attended by youngsters from Jangalak and the neighbouring villages.
His humble, open-minded, and disciplined character made him not only popular but also a natural leader among his many friends.
Massoud: We lived in Karte Parwan, where I had some very good friends. We were about 50 to 60 people. At that time I was in 7th grade at the Lycée Isteqlaal, where I was in charge of the team.
Massoud had many interests, which he could not spend any more time on later. His favourite sports were soccer, horse riding, swimming and Karate. He was also the dedicated coach for a soccer team, which was composed mostly of his friends from Karte Parwan.
Moreover, he was a passionate chess player and reader. Among his favourite literature in prose were books of travels and works about history. For lyrics, he favoured the writings of Mowlaanaa Jalaluddin-e Balkhi Sanayi Ghaznawi, Bedil, and Hafiz.
Massoud: I love Hafiz poems. I always read them. They change and inspire me. Music talks to the innermost feelings of a human being. Poetry and music have influence on every one.
1351 (1972) he formed a mathematics course which was called Aarian, which met in the close vicinity of his domicile in Baharestan-e Jami a part of Karte Parwan in Kabul. Not only had his classmates taken advantage of this course but all students who lived there.
Questioned, how his interest for politics came about, Massoud said: My father had many friends who knew a lot about what was going on in the political world. They came to our home and had many discussions about national and international politics. Therefore, it was only natural that I became interested. These discussions and disputes had an influence on my future. My first political activities began when I was in 9th grade at Isteqlaal.
The Communist movement started their first riots in Kabuls schools when Massoud was in 8th and 9th grade. Since his beliefs were different, he had some problems with classmates who supported the communist viewpoint. To actively oppose a movement the inexperienced Massoud had not many options, since most political movements at that time were indeed squabbling among each other but what they all had in common was that they were leftist. So he became aware of the Islamic movement.
1352 (1973) after passing the entrance examination for academic education, Massoud according to his preferences - enrolled at Kabul Polytechnic Institute for Engineering and Architecture.
That year he also officially joined the Hezb-e Jamiat-e Islami(Jamiat-e Islami party) and were acquainted with Engineer Habib Rahman, who was at the forefront of the Islamic movement.
During the time of the Daoud regime, which was considered to be too close to communism and therefore the Soviet Union, the first plans for an insurrection under the command of Habib Rahman and with Massouds participation were made. Those plans were exposed and Rahman was jailed for 6 months; Massoud fled Kabul. Hekmatyar, who commanded military activities of the Jamiat-e Islami at that time, was convinced that terrorism would be successful. He did not exclude planting bombs, acid attacks, and assassination of political enemies as a means to achieve their goals. Even then, Massoud voiced his dislike also of Islamic extremism, a concept, which some in the movement shared.
Massoud and Hekmatyar subsequently had vehement disputes since Massoud absolutely opposed terrorist activities. He saw in them just the destruction of the people he actually wanted to serve.
Ahmad Wali Massoud about his brother: He was in any case a Muslim. At the same time, he was moderate. What I want to say is that he was never an extremist, neither in his private nor political life. He believed that a modern moderate Islam could work in Afghanistan. He said that the extreme left or right failed in Afghanistan, since both had neglected the needs of the people. Therefore, we could not govern Afghanistan like any traditional Muslim country.
In 1353 (1973/1974) the Hezb-e Jamiat ordered Hekmatyar to try another insurrection. It also failed and ended with hundreds of students put in jail.
Massoud was a diligent and determined student who nevertheless concentrated on his studies. His goal was to successfully complete his university education in order to serve his country and its people.
Being warned by his uncle, military commander Abdul-Razaq Khan, a high-ranking official in Daouds government, about his impending arrest, Massoud left the Polytechnic Institute an, together with Engineer Jaan Mohammad, went to Pakistan for the first time in 1353 (1974). After some time, Massoud was ordered to resume his political activities in Kabul. These activities, i.e. trying to win over the government forces for the cause, took him until 1354 (1974), when the first armed rebellion in Panjsher took place. The Hezb-e Jamiat, led by the then 22-year-old Massoud, was able to conquest the whole Panjsher with some casualties and disarm the government forces.
Hekmatyar had promised Massoud that as soon as some terrain outside Kabul had been conquered, the army would march out and a military coup détat would happen. Massoud and his troops had been betrayed, though, since this information was wrong and therefore the resistance forces in Panjsher had to give up. Only a handful of men could escape. Massoud went back to Kabul after a month and from there he went to Peshawar in Pakistan where he had to lie low as well, since he was also observed by the Pakistani secret service.
After the failed insurrection, the partys mood changed. Some members had backed the insurrection; others thought it had been a mistake since it was uncoordinated. Finally this dispute led to a split of the Jamiat into two groups. Those who opposed the insurrection among them Massoud stayed with Rabani. The others joined Hekmatyar.
The two groups sometimes became reconciled then drifted apart again, until they finally reunited and declared Qaazi Amin e Waqa as leader of both groups. Hekmatyar disclosed all his enemies to the Pakistani government; he had them arrested and murdered. Eng. Jaan Mohammad was one of those who where among the betrayed. Hekmatyar and his Pakistani mentors, Kelo and Babor, also had Massoud, who stayed at Hekmatyars home at that time, arrested. When Massoud realized how dangerous the situation was, he threatened the Pakistani guards using two pistols he always carried with him and managed to get away; officially, he stayed in Pakistan until Zia Ullhaq seized power.
After these incidents, the Hezb-e Jamiat decided to act independently. Massoud was again sent into action in Kabul until the communist insurrection in 1357 (1978). His closest confidants only knew the fact that Massoud did not exclusively stay in Pakistan. According to one of his closest friends, he also spent some time in Afghanistans eastern provinces in order to escape the Kabul polices attention.
Massoud went to Nooristan and other areas where the war had just started. He wanted to find out about the Afghans opinion regarding the war against the Communists. As soon as he was sure about their determination he departed with a group of 20 young men to Panjsher in 1358 (1979 - Soviet invasion in Afghanistan). In Konar, where their comrades had already begun resistance, they were welcomed heartily. Since Massouds men only were scarcely armed, they were given some weapons, which their comrades in Konar had captured, from the Soviet soldiers.
Still not sufficiently armed Massoud and his troop marched on to Panjsher, Massouds home. Eyewitnesses report that Massoud contacted all the elders of the villages in the region to gain information about the willingness of people to fight, the weapons they had and how many volunteers there were. For Massoud and his fight to free his country and people from tyranny, the inhabitants of Panjsher were determined to do everything.
Despite everyone, whether old or young, man or woman being convinced that armed resistance was necessary and being therefore ready to fight, Massoud made sure that it was not the sole breadwinner of a family who was called to duty. He told to those who had volunteered that providing for their families was also an essential part of the resistance. Their enemy was a superpower and those who were weak or required help had to be protected; especially ones own family.
Again, an armed insurrection in Panjsher took place, this time under Massouds leadership. The fight lasted 40 days, during which the whole Panjsher, Salang, and Bola Ghain could be freed from enemy troops. After these 40 days Massoud`s leg was injured and the fighters had no more weapons and ammunition. Despite 600 relief fighters from Nooristan, who came to help them, the enemy finally defeated them. Massoud went back to Panjsher with Kaakaa (uncle) Tajuddin. On pondering the outcome of the fight, Massoud decided to opt for a new tactic, guerrilla war. Massoud became the worlds best guerrilla warrior.
Robert D. Kaplan wrote in his book The Soldiers of God 1991: Ahmad Shah Massoud has to be considered one of the greatest leaders of guerrilla movements in the 20th century. He defeated his enemy just like Marshall Tito, Hu Chi Minh and Che Guevara did. Massoud controlled a bigger terrain that was much more difficult to defend militarily and was under constant attack from the enemy. His territory suffered much more attacks from enemy forces than those areas which were under the control of the resistance movements of Tito, Hu Chi Minh, or Guevara.
From that time on Massoud's name was inseparably connected with the Panjsher, he proved to be the greatest resistance fighter in history against the Red Army, since Massoud caused 60 % of all damages and casualties of the Red Army according to international observers. He became the Lion of Panjsher and ruined the reputation of the Invincible Red Army as it was called. Many people simply called him Amer Sahib (commander) to express their affection as well as their respect.
Sebastian Junger writes: I found it impossible not to listen to Massoud when he spoke, even though I didn't understand a word. I watched everything he did, because I had the sense that somehow-in the way he poured his tea, in the way his hands carved the air as he talked - there was some secret to be learned.
His military success and the love of his people caused a lot of hatred and envy in others; especially Gulbuddin Hekmatyar became Massouds most hostile enemy.
Every one of those enemies made attempts on his life and tried everything to reach and kill him. Soviet officials had offered money for his capture, but because of his well functioning intelligence service all these attempts were thwarted.
1358 (1979), when his leg was severely wounded, Massouds resistance fighters were sieged by government troops, but he managed a narrow escape.
1359 (1980), a young soldier took advantage of the darkness and shot at Massouds car from a 3m distance. Massoud told him: Friend, your hands are trembling and you are not used to shoot Anyone, and let the attacker go.
1361 (1983) Soviet special troops had blocked the way out of the mountain tunnel near Malaspa in Panjsher. However, Massoud and his men managed a breakthrough and could slip away without attracting the Soviets attention.
1361 / 1362 (1983 / 84) the year of truce between Massoud and the Red Army the Soviets tried to murder Massoud employing two different tactics:
First, they tried to lure him into one of their camps in Onaba - a part of Panjsher - with promises of talks and negotiations, and then have him arrested. A Tajik interpreter thwarted this try. The second strategy was to have him assassinated by his own men. The Russians had bribed a mujahid named Abdul-Qader Naachaar, who was in charge of the Muajhideens food. He was told to poison Massoud, but could be apprehended in time.
Dr. Najibullah, later President and at that time chief of the Afghan governments intelligence service, tried to murder Massoud with the help of a former classmate, Kamran. Dr. Najibullah knew Massoud since his youth in Kabul, he also knew how friendly, complaisant Massoud was, and how unceremoniously he welcomed friends. Kamran then was captain of the Afghan national soccer team. He went to Panjsher and spent a few days together with Massoud. Kamran finally understood Massouds reason to fight and handed over the specially muffled weapon he was given by the Afghan government to carry out the planned assassination. Kamran then took refuge in Germany and asked for political asylum.
1368 (1989), after a meeting of the commanders of the Shoraa-ye Nezaar in Farkhar Hekmatyars Hezb-e Islami trapped the members of the Shoraa and and drew them into an ambush. Dozens of them were killed, among them several close friends and confidants of Massoud. Though Hekmatyar was able to stop the major offensive planned by the assembly, Massoud, who had been the main target of the ambush, could escape.
1372 (1993) when there was growing discord between him and Shoraa-ye Hamahangi, under the leadership of Hekmatyar, his helicopter was shot at by enemy jets (under the command of Shoraa-ye Hamahangi), but the helicopters pilot managed an emergency landing. After this attempt, Massoud decided to learn how to fly a helicopter. That same year he was ambushed in the region of Wazir Akbar Khan in Kabul and came under heavy fire, caused by Dostums militia.
1361 (1983), after two defeats of the whole Soviet military forces the then commander-in-chief of the Soviets agreed to negotiate with Massoud about a truce. Because of this move the Soviet Union officially recognized for the first time that the Mujaheddin, especially Massoud, were serious political opponents. The truce was considered by all experts to be one of the greatest triumphs of the Afghan resistance. It lasted one year.
Massoud made the most out of his success and was able to make a long journey around the northern regions of Afghanistan for the first time. This journey was very successful and therefore in winter 1362 (1984) Massoud was able to unite all resistance commanders, who were members of different parties, in a council, the so-called Shoraa-ye-Nezaar (Controlling Council). His goal was to build a united Afghan political strategy and united military forces that would not be guided by the parties, which were created in the neighbouring countries. The members of the Shoraa-ye-Nezaar fought for the common goal of a free Afghanistan.
Despite the fact that the Soviet attacks on Panjsher had resumed Massoud was convinced that Panjsher could offer resistance under the leadership of other commanders without his presence. He left the command of Panjsher to the former district attorney Abdul-Mahmood Daqiq. Furthermore, the regions Andaraab, Khost-e Fereng, Eshkamesh, Nahrin, and Keshm had been turned into strongholds by Massoud. They were now known as Panj Sher (Five Lions).
1366 (1987) the provinces Parwan and Kapisa could also be handed over to the command of Azimi, since Massoud had created an autonomous democratically structured administration, information and organisation system in those regions under his command. This was different from how the so-called warlords used to control their territory. It enabled Massoud to concentrate on the unification of all resistance forces, but his system also allowed the inhabitants of the different regions complete self-determination.
Massoud: The future government should be formed through elections by the people. Men and women should take part. The only form of government, which can balance the different ethnicities, is democracy.
Massoud had created an administration and legal system, which was unique in Afghanistans history. In the regions, he controlled the import and the use of any drugs or tobacco products including cigarettes were strictly forbidden. The prohibition was supported by the regions inhabitants and lasted firstly until the entry into Kabul in 1992 and again from 1996 on until Massouds death. It also included the cultivation and manufacturing of these substances. The ban applied even to commanders and other high-ranking officials.
Massoud: Cigarettes have been banned since the beginning of the resistance against the Russians - for economic reasons. People smoke too much. The region spends too much money on cigarettes, and they don't eat as much as they should.
Eugen Sorg:In the areas you control, Opium is grown as well. We saw the fields in the villages.
Massoud: There are some cultures in Badakhshan province. Ismailites are living there, an islamic cult whose followers are addicted since centuries. They are planting drugs for their own use. But if you go to Chay Ab to the local jail, you will find Ghollam Salim there, a drug tycoon. In one raid we seized half a ton of Opium on his estate. Now he is in jail for the third year. Despite all his money and influence.
1367 (1988), at the age of 35, Massoud married the daughter of his comrade Kaakaa Tajuddin. This fact was kept secret for security reasons. Even his longtime companions were not informed for several years.
Since Massoud did not want to tolerate the meddling of the Pakistani secret service ISI, he had to fight on different fronts. On one side, he had to put up resistance against the Soviet Union and the Afghan government, which depended on the Soviets, on the other side he had to fight Pakistan and their puppet Hekmatyar.
Massoud: Our policy was always to have good and friendly relations with everyone. But we never have accepted being oppressed and we will never accept it.
In winter 1362 (1983/84), the communist Afghan regime brought about a trial in absence in which Massoud was charged with high treason. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to Death. Even before their major attack on Panjsher, the government gave out information that the courts judgement had been executed, meaning Massoud had been killed, and that his group has been eradicated. That strategy was meant to lower the morale among Massouds followers outside of Panjsher, especially in Kabul. It was also a tactic to outlaw Massoud.
Massoud anticipated that these actions would bring about heavy attacks on Panjsher.
After exhaustive conferences with representatives of every region of Panjsher, he decided that a total evacuation of Panjsher within a short time would be the best solution to avoid a massacre among the civilian population.
While in spring 1363 (1984) the Soviet Union planned their big attack on Panjsher. Therefore Massoud asked the inhabitants to evacuate the valley completely.
The peoples love for Massoud and their devotion to the resistance was infinite and therefore they were willing to make this enormous sacrifice for the cause. On Massouds request up to 130.000 people, which was actually the whole civilian population of Panjsher, left their homes within two weeks. They left behind everything they had built up with great efforts during generations. It was not only one of the greatest sacrifices of the Afghan people but also passive resistance against the almighty Red Army and one of the reasons for the latter is defeat.
The Red Army was vanquished in Panjsher eight times between 1358 -1367 (1979 1988). The Soviet Unions 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 Moscows control.
This caused international authors, e.g. Robert Kaplan in his book Soldiers of God to declare Massoud as the Victor of the Cold War.
Kaplan writes: Until he is not forced to do so, Massoud does not decide to start battle. That was his strategy during the 14 years of resistance. With his victory over the Najibullah regime Massoud proved how much the planners and strategists of the American policy regarding Jihad (generally) and the distribution of their help (to the parties involved) were wrong. Massouds genius and experience and the devoted support of his people enabled him to become the victor of the Cold War. This also attributes the fall of the Berlin wall to Massoud.
After the last Soviet soldier had left Afghanistan on 25.11. 1368 (14.02.1989), theShoraa-ye ?Aali-ye Farmaandehan-e Arshad-e Jahadi Afghanistan (High Council of the Commanders of Islamic resistance forces of Afghanistan), which had been summoned by Massoud, met to decide on future proceedings in Afghanistan. This council took place on 17.07.1369 (09.10.1990) in Shah-Salim in the province of Badakhshan. From there Massoud went on a short, but at that time desicive journey to Pakistan to talk about the future government with the so-called Shoraa-ye Rahbari (Leading Council), which had been formed to establish a new government in Afghanistan.
Despite being only scarcely equipped, never really sufficiently supplied on weapons and ammunition and of only limited financial means, he was able to win peoples hearts, to expand his radius of action, to inflict destructive blows on the communist regime until 1371 (1992) and finally free Kabul because of his moderate politics, which were not determined by fundamentalism. He succeeded in doing that without any help from the neighbouring countries. This was one reason why he became the Hero of the Afghan resistance.
In one of his last speeches as president Dr. Najibullah acknowledged that and declared that he would cede power to Massoud, although he was convinced that Massoud would not have a chance to build an efficient government, since Hekmatyar and the ISI would not allow that to happen.
In 1371 (1992) Massoud considered the Mujahedin forces to be unable to govern. However, after an exhaustive meeting of the Mujahedin leadership in Daalaan Sang / Panjsher he decided that the overthrow of the Kabul communist government was inevitable but should not be carried out immediately. Despite everyone agreeing with this plan, Hekmatyar objected and wanted to invade Kabul at once. In a recorded conversation, Massoud tried to convince Hekmatyar not to attack Kabul, since the government was ready to surrender, but Hekmatyar would not listen.
Before Massouds Mujahedin marched towards Kabul, he gave them distinct orders regarding their behaviour once they were in Kabul. He reminded them of their duties as protectors of Kabuls population. It was especially important to him that his soldiers would treat people respectfully and that the Mujahedin would not be diverted from their tasks by living in Kabul.
After the last of the governments positions in Bagram had been captured, Massouds troops marched into Kabul on late afternoon of 04.02.1371 (24.04.1992). This action had been forced; the attack was only conducted to prevent Hekmatyars men from entering the capital and cause danger for the population. The Hezb-e Islami followers could nevertheless enter the city. They broke up all prison doors, freeing even dangerous criminals. Ministries and their archives were pillaged; every file they could find was destroyed. Because of that, the new government was already in a bad starting position since important documents were missing.
In addition, there were now more than ten thousand heavily armed criminals in Kabul; the released prisoners had robbed the military depots. There was no army, no police, no intelligence service, not even intact buildings, and structures.
Dr. Najibullah, the former president, had asked for asylum in the Kabul UN office. Massoud had the building guarded by his own troops in order to prevent encroachments on Najibullah.
Friends of Massoud, who knew about his popularity among the population, asked him to form the new government and lead it himself. Although Kabul was surrounded by Massouds forces he handed over the responsibility to the political leaders and withdrew himself in order to give nobody reason to continue the war.
The leading council - before its arrival in Kabul - proclaimed Massoud president of the High Council of Commanders Shoraa-ye Farmaandehan and Defence Secretary via a radio message, on 05.02.1371 (25.04.1992). The new president, Mujadedi, and the cabinet, arrived in Kabul on 08.02.1371 (28.04.1992).
This represented not only a victory over the Soviet Union, but also over the secret service of Pakistan, the ISI. The Mujaheddins victory was a political defeat for the government of Pakistan, because it had always pinned its hopes on Hekmatyar and had supported him against Massoud.
This compelled Iran, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to call for more power in the government for their respective party. With the interferences of these countries the war in Kabul started.
The respective governments exaggerated this war as "civil war, in order to camouflage their interferences in Afghanistan. This had already been handled similarly by the Soviet Union.
Pakistan changed its tactics of influence and control with the help of different Arab states. The ISI created the Taliban and equipped it with the entire power of the army of Pakistan. Exactly like the international terrorists, the troops of the Taliban were shifted over the border to Afghanistan into the southern provinces. The triangle of Taliban, Pakistan and international terrorists wanted to make Afghanistan a safe haven for their sinister machinations and just one man opposed them: Ahmad Shah Massoud. Even Bin Laden had to admit that and said that as long as this man alive was, no victory was possible.
Massouds family had also attracted the attention of the communist regime: his parents home had been seized and converted into a school. Now that Massoud was back in Kabul, he decided that the school should keep the house.
In 1372 (1993) Massoud created the "Bonyad-e Farhangi wa Ta'wani Mohammad-e Ghazali" (The cooperative Mohammad Ghazali culture foundation). Massoud called all scientists, scholars, authors, and artists without consideration of their respective ideology to participate in this foundation. The commission for women made it possible for female Afghan artists - above all widows - to make a living through arts and crafts.
The department of family consultation was a free advisory board, which was accessible seven days a week for the indigent. The foundations department for distribution of auxiliary goods was the first partner of the Red Cross.
During the practice of their honorary activity two members died being hit by rockets of the Hezb-e Islami. The physicians of this foundation treated twice a week half-daily all those patients free of charge, who could not afford a physicians attendance. They also got the necessary medicines for a very small compensation or sometimes free of charge from the associated pharmacies.
After "Matbo'a ye Dawlatti" (the state publishing house) was burned down by Hezb-e Islami, all newspapers, magazines and weekly papers were printed by the printing-house of the Ghazali foundation. Massoud wanted to make sure that the freedom of press was ensured despite the difficult conditions. Although Massoud was responsible for the financing of the foundation, he did not interfere into its work. A council consisting of Gol Mohammd Yama, Dr. Mahdi, Haidari Wojoodi, Azizullah Ima, Engineer Said Yaqoob Nawid, Rahim Rafat and Sher Mohammad Khara in cooperation with the internationally well-known Afghan author Wasef Bakhtari led the foundation. The Ghazali foundation enabled Afghan artists to exhibit their works at different places in Kabul. Numerous artists and authors were honoured for their works; among others also Ustad Zabardast and Aziullah Ahmadi for best painting and Is'haaq Nangyaal for best poetry in Pashto.
Nangyaal was neither a proponent of Massoud nor the government. The jury however consisted of impartial university lecturers, who had made the quality of the works the center of their attention. That was exactly what Massoud wanted for the Afghan artists.
Establishing this foundation was one of Massoud's most important achievements in the cultural field. He wanted cultural institutions to create a common ground for mutual understanding, far off from political ideologies.
The opponents of a sovereign Afghan government were now united in the "Shoraa ye Hamaahangi" (Council of Harmony), which had been forged by Iran, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. On 11.10.1372 (01.01.1993), they tried an insurrection against the new Afghan government. Massoud, then Afghan Secretary of Defence, could strike down this insurrection, which was supported by substantial military force.
Hekmatyar, on behalf of the government of Pakistan, wanted to proclaim a Confederation Pakistan Afghanistan under guidance of Pakistan. Thus, Afghanistan would have become a part of Pakistan and its independence would have been lost. Hekmatyar fought for this goal trying everything he could. The Pakistani government assigned Hekmatyar to take the city Kabul under rocket bombardment. This vigorous military support and influence by Pakistan went so far that daily up to 3.000 rockets were shot on Kabul, ten thousands civilians were murdered, and the city was nearly completely destroyed.
Meanwhile there were still Massouds innumerable conferences, negotiations, discussions and agreements with the diverse parties, groups and alliances, which were patched together by neighbour states depending upon those countries interests. Against so many enemies, who constantly brought up new points, like ethnical affiliation, language, race or regional special rights, but under the cloak of making their demands and claims to power against the government had only one goal in mind - the destabilization of the government - even Massoud was powerless. Still he did not give up his efforts to find a peaceful solution. Massouds opponents conducted great military offensives, massive missile attacks and hidden psycho terror against the civilian population. Hekmatyar, whose own representative was acting as Prime Minister in Kabul, blocked all roads to Kabul and thus cut off the city from any supplies. Such extortionate measures served his own position since he hoped for support from the population.
By officially blaming Massoud for their dirty war, Hekmatyar and his followers effectively achieved character assassination, which resulted in Massoud continuously losing support among the population. The population of Kabul was now besieged, starved out, bombed, had rockets fired at them and lived like in a cage full of armed criminals. In this chaos, Massoud was expected and demanded to be fully in control.
Massoud tried everything to get Hekmatyar not to shoot on the civilian population of the city but only on military positions. However, since Pakistan knew that Massoud was not to be defeated militarily, its government continued with its inhumane policy. One year later Hekmatyar made Massouds resignation the condition for the end of the war. Massoud consented, which did not entail however under any circumstances an end of the attacks on the part of the Hezb-e Islami, Hekmatyars party.
After Massoud had resigned from the office of Secretary of Defence, he assumed the command of the armed forces against the invasion from the neighbour states. The efforts of Pakistan to destroy the troops of Massoud had failed.
Pakistan could win members of the different parties for her cause by bribery and promises, which equalled a character assassination of the entire Afghan resistance among the population. Since every armed person in Kabul was considered to be Massouds follower and whatever he did was regarded as Massouds responsibility. Forgotten was the political affiliation of those who had been bought by the Pakistanis to different parties and leaders.
In spring 1373 (1994) a conference in three parts was arranged. In the first meeting representatives from 15 different Afghan provinces met, in the second meeting there were already 25 provinces participating. From 29.04.-03.05.1373 (20.07.-25.07.1994) the conference of the High Islamic Council Shoraa ye Aali Islami was held as closing round of these three meetings.
Massoud had united political and cultural personalities, governors, commanders, clergymen and representatives of the Mujaheddin in this council, in order to deliberate about the future president and his tasks and to reach a personnel 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. Yosuf, the first democratic Prime Minister under Zahir Shah, the former king. To avoid any influence on the council it was decided that acting President Prof. Rabani should not appear at the conference. Rabani did not stick to this decision and participated nevertheless in the conference.This led to the fact that the influence of the president and his fundamentalist followers grew to such a substantial extent that no decision about the future presidency could be reached.
Meanwhile the Taliban conquered and acquired one area after another, until they finally stood at the gates of Kabul. They also conquered the terrain of Hekmatyar, Pakistans former favourite. Although Massoud enjoyed a high reputation within the Leading Council and his negative attitude for Hekmatyars opinions was well known, he had to accept Hekmatyars entry in Kabul silently, since there were a lot of fundamentalists within the government, which endorsed Hekmatyars politics. These fundamentalists had invited Hekmatyar to Kabul, who otherwise had lost everything, so he could take over his office as Prime Minister, despite the fact that he had tried his utmost within the last years to destroy that very government. Therefore, Massoud had enemies within his own camp that he could not subdue.
At the beginning of 1375, (1996) Massoud went without company to Maydan Shahr, Hekmatyars former stronghold, in order to induce the Taliban, which were represented by Mullah Rabani, to end the war. It was decided there, that the representatives of the Taliban should come to Kabul, to confer about the differences between the government and the Taliban and to find a possible solution. That happened and the decision was made those 40 representatives of the clergy, who should represent the government, should again meet with 40 representatives of the Taliban for further and more comprehensive consultation. The government expressed its readiness repeatedly, but without any reaction from the Taliban. Instead, they started their massive offensive against the government and against Kabul. The fact that Massoud had been able to leave their camp alive was very much regretted by the Talibans leadership. Mullah Rabani paid with his life for this lost opportunity to eliminate Massoud.
When on 04.07.1375 (26.09.1996) the city of Kabul came under solid bombardment from the Taliban, Al Qaida and Pakistan, Massoud ordered the retreat of the entire armed forces from Kabul, although he would have militarily been able to hold the city by street fights for an infinite time. For the protection of the civilian population of Kabul however, he preferred a retreat to Panjsher.
Hekmatyar, who now had no more support from the ISI and who still was the official Prime Minister of the Afghan government, had no other option than to seek protection in Panjsher under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud gave him, like all other ministers and government members, safe-conduct abroad. Hekmatyar flew to Iran and stated then, Massoud had intended to have him assassinated in Panjsher through a terrorist attack.
At a time where everyone friend or foe regarded that retreat as the irrevocable victory of the Taliban and the end of the Afghan resistance, that resistance started anew. When all other leaders already were abroad, the Afghan people, regardless of political, ethnical, ideological pr religious ties, fought for their freedom under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud.
When Massoud was asked by his brother Ahmad Wali in a telephone conversation to leave the country, something the political leadership insisted upon, he said: Is it just that when we were in Kabul leading the country, when we had the peoples consent, we promised to protect them, to defend our independence and to take care of Afghanistan and its people and now that these people are in great danger we would leave them? Is this really justice? I do not think it is justified. I will stay in this country until my last breath and resist. I am convinced that, God willing, Afghanistan one day will be free.
The five-year resistance under Massoud against the Taliban, Bin Laden and Pakistan was one of the most impressive fights of the Afghan history.
Massouds unparalleled skills in commanding an army, his tactical and strategical superiority, and his political ability earned him the nickname Eagle of the Hindu Kush.
In winter 1375 (1996) Massoud was in a position to unite all opponents of the Taliban under his guidance in the first so-called "Jab-e Nejaat-e Melli bara-ye Aazaadi Afghanistan" (Front of National Rescue for the liberation of Afghanistan) and "Jabh-e Motahed-e Melli" (National United Front). This union did not consist, as spread in the Pakistani media and later in the West, of a Northern Alliance, thus only the northern states of Afghanistan, but included resistance forces from all parts of the country. The best-known members of the United Front were:
From the Northern provinces were Haji Rahim, Commander Piram Qol, Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq, General Dostum, Qazi Kabir Marzban, Commander Ata Mohammad and General Malek. From the east were Haji Abdul Qadir, Commander Hazrat Ali, Commander Jaan Daad Khan and Abdullah Wahedi. From the northeast areas, Commander Qatrah and Commander Najmuddin participated. From the southern provinces, there were Commander Qari Baba, Noorzai, and Hotak. From the western and southwest provinces came General Ismail Khan, Doctor Ibrahim, and Fazlkarim Aimaq. From central Afghanistan Commander Anwari, Said Hussein Aalemi Balkhi, Said Mustafa Kazemi, Akbari, Mohammad Ali Jawed, Karim Khaili, Commander Sher Alam, and Professor Rassul Sayaf were members of this union.
Therefore, there never existed an alliance that was only composed of leaders coming from the north, which would justify the name Northern Alliance. By using such propaganda, the claim of the Afghan resistance to represent the whole of Afghanistan was questioned and discredited.
During all the years of resistance against the Soviet Union and later the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Massoud was well known for his benevolent treatment of prisoners. They were given the same food like the Mujahedin, were allowed to move freely within Panjsher and to see visitors as well as write and send letters.
Mullah Yar Mohammad, a Taliban leader, said after being released from imprisonment by Massouds troops: Massoud really is the son of the Afghan nation. He already fought once and now again he fights a foreign invader.
1376 (1997) Massoud summoned again a conference under his leadership to decide on the future Prime Minister. Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai, who was not affiliated with any party, was the candidate at that time and without dissenting votes was elected as new Prime Minister. The new official and his political program were introduced via TV in Balkh. His program was cordially received by wide sections of the population. After the failed conference in Herat 1373 (1993), this was again a first step towards a new popular government.
Massoud had the Afghan army equipped with newly acquired military uniforms and advanced after a few large offensive to the gates of Kabul. However, exactly at that time the new Prime Ministers airplane crashed over Bamiyan. By Ghafoorzais death, Massoud lost his hope for a stable government in Kabul.
After awhile Massoud withdrew his troops from the north of Kabul again to Panjsher, since he did not intend to march into Kabul this time without having formed a government before which would be acceptable for all especially for the civilian population.
After the retreat from Kabul and the following stream of refugees, which had multiplied the number of inhabitants in Panjsher, with the help of international organizations Massoud could build several schools in Panjsher, among them also some girlschools. His means were very scarce and the accommodation provisional, however this was his only possibility to ensure education for the children.
When Massoud spoke about international terrorism, Al Qaida and Bin Laden, almost nobody in the West could envision what that meant.
In the year 1377 (1998) Olivier Roy and Christoph De Ponfilly wrote in an essay: Massoud never understood why CIA and Pentagon decided to support his enemy Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the fight against him. Massoud always dreamed of a united and equal people in Afghanistan and also of free elections in this country.
On the insistence of delegates who had the opportunity to meet Massoud, and who were convinced by his opinion and the proof for foreign interference, Massoud was invited by the European Parliament in April 2001 to come to Paris and draw attention to his fight in Afghanistan. For his long standing efforts especially for womens rights the president of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, called Massoud the pole of freedom.
Roy & Ponfilly: Ahmad Shah Massoud is, contrary to today's political personalities, in no case on the search for a task to which he is not up to. It is correct that Massoud talks to those who visit him; he does however not do anything that would cause them to visit him. It is difficult to make Massoud talk to the media. He permits filming him since he has nothing to hide.
Massoud appealed to all nations not to leave the Afghan people alone in their resistance, for if Afghanistan would lose against terrorism the whole world would lose. Only a few months later it turned out clearly that Massoud had been right.
Changiz Palewan: Afghanistan is grateful for this resistance. The international community is grateful for this resistance. In fact, the whole region is grateful for this resistance. For centuries, there was no leader in the region, who brought unity. There was no one, not in Iran nor anywhere else. Afghanistan gave us this leader.
Two foreign suicide assassins, who had camouflaged themselves as journalists murdered Ahmad Shah Masood on the 18.06.1380 (09.09.2001) in Khoaja Bahauddin in the Takhar province. On 24.06.1380 (15.09.2001), he was buried on the hill of Saricha in Panjsher. He himself had selected this place for his burial place before. Altogether, he spent 31 of 48 years of his life serving his country and his people and he knew that he would also lose his life in that service.
Sebastian Junger remarks: Despite him not being able to see the defeat of the Taliban, his war is finally won.
A wife and six children survive Massoud.
Posthumously the Afghan Interim Government under president Karzai awarded him the title of Hero of the Afghan Nation.
Reza: Life is beautiful, my friend. I strongly believe this. One can kill a man, destroy his body, eradicate his flesh and blood, but not extinguish his thoughts.
 According to the calendar The Lion of Afghanistan published by the office of culture and education of the Shaid Ahmad Shah Massoud Foundation Daftar-e Farhangi wa Amozeshi Bonyad-e Shahid Ahmad Shah Massoud for the year 1382 (2003/2004)
 Also, found in several different spellings like Jungalak.
 Also written as Panjshir.
 Also found written as Jami.
 From an extensive interview with authors Farzan and Ghiasi; published under the title Marde Ostuwaar wa Omedwaar ba Ofoq haaye dur ( A resolute man, hoping for far horizons)
 Comparable to Highschool; as first foreign language French was taught at that school.
 Also known as Mowlaanaa Jalaluddin-e Balkhi Rumi since he lived in Turkey for several years.
 From the interview with Farzan / Ghiasi.
 First president of Afghanistan 1351 1357, abolished the monarchy through an insurrection; he was the cousin of the then king Zahir Shah. His name also exists in various spellings as Dawood, Daood oder Dawud.
 From an interview with Brigitte Sommer, the full text can be found on www.afgha.com
 It should not be overlooked that this title had been invented by the people and was only later used by the media and by several authors.
 From an interview with an engl. newspaper.
 This is the plural of the word Mujahed: Also written as Mujahedin, Mujahideen, Mujahiddeen, Mudschahedin, Mudschaheddin, Mudschahidin, Mujahidin. The dictionary translates as follows: effort, exertion, struggle for faith, self- control, and castigation.
 From an interview with Pepe Escobar
 The complete interview was published in Frankfurter Rundschau under the title Das Vermächtnis des Löwen
 From an interview with Payame Mujahid
 The trial was broadcast in Kabul evening TV. It was less a trial but more a sentencing with the outcome already decided.
 Written also as Jehad or Jahad; for its meaning see Mujahideen.
 To let the goodbye ceremonies for the Soviet soldiers happen in their full glory, the communist regime declared that the Islamic celebration after the Fasting Month of Ramadan, which was due the exact same day, had moved one day further.
 In this council, all seven groups, including Hezb-e Islami and Hezb-e Jamiat-e Islami, participated. It was decided that after a 3-month term of office by Mujadedi Prof. Rabani would take over the presidency and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar would become Prime Minister.
 The conversation was broadcast several times on Afghan TV.
 Taleb means a student who strives for Islamic religious education; the plural is Taliban; the terms are also written Talib and Taliban.
 In this school children from first to eighth grade were taught in two shifts; its name was Maktab-e Ebtedayi Amir Scher Ali Khan.
 Mohammad Ghazali 450 505 (1058 1111), author, theologian, philosopher and Sufi; his most famous work is Kimiya-ye Saadat (The Elixir of Bliss).
 This was a request by the Taleban. Massoud agreed to it to demonstrate his peaceful and cooperative intentions.
 Al Qaeda is a terror network, founded by Osama bin Laden (also Usama bin Ladin). Al Qaeda means the base.
 In contrast to that, countries like Pakistan and the USA tried very hard to have Massoud surrender his weapons to the Taleban and cease resistance. Unlike the invasion by the Soviet Union, the Pakistani invasion was not even recognized in western media.
ping too much too read
September 11, 2001 (9/11) - A lion cornered - The attack on Masood is bound to strengthen the Taleban
heres a great little web site I found with many, many photos and articles. http://home.aol.com/mbeve10258/Massoud.html
Thanks warsaw44, Looks like a great site. Have saved it.
Thanks so much for this post. He is a man whose life was way too short. He was the first victim of the 9/11 attacks.
Sounds like a remarkable man. How would the reconstruction of Afghanistan be proceeding if he'd survived the assassination attempt? Would he now occupy Karzai's position?
BTW, thank you for the bio of this hero of Afghanistan.
He was a victim of the United States government way before that.
Thanks again, I too have started to explore this site. There is a wealth of information here.
Isn't it sad to think of how he could have united his country and held it with our help? We failed him.
The assassination of Massoud was a tragic event. He was an great ally to us...and yes it does make it much harder for peace in that part of the world.
Man isn't that just sad? You speak the truth. What a man he was. I hope he contines to be honored and the truth about his story continues to be told.
For some reason, his "story" was the hardest part of the ABC movie for me.
It's sad that didn't live to see the fall of the Taliban and the first free election in Afghanistan.
His country failed him.We tried to help.I liked him in this story plus the guy was cute.
It was for me too. Mainly because I had already known about the other casualties of the attack in the U.S.
I didn't really know about him until the movie. Also because it really shouldn't have happened, we should have been helping him fight the Taliban long before 2001, and the revelation that the U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan in the amount of hundreds of millions was going to the Taliban and not the Northern Alliance was infuriating.
If you get a chance, pick up George Friedman's (STRATFOR)book called America's Secret War. He does an outstanding job laying out background so we can understand what happened over there leading up to the attack. He goes into great detail regarding the tribes and what it took to get the initial CIA and special forces on the ground there.
The mindset of these people are so different than ours. It's a great read for anybody interested in the War on Terror.
Who was the congressman who immediately knew something was up when he was assassinated? He's a republican, but I can't remember his name offhand.
On the 9th of September, the Afghan people celebrated Rememberance Day for Masood. I was talking with one of our local subcontractors about it. "This is a sad day for us" he told me.
Killing Masood guaranteed no strong Afghan government for the foreseeable future. Karzai is a gentlemen, quite photogenic in his little fur hat and striped coat, and he's Pashtu to placate them, but he's not up to the task. He'd make a good mayor.
Masood would have been a president of epic proportions.
I believe things would have been much different in Afghanistan if he were to have lived beyond his untimely death. It's just too bad the pointy heads back in Washington didn't listen to what he was seeing, hearing and saying at that time.
I read in the entry of him in Wikipedia that Hamid Karzai designated a national holiday in Massoud's name after the Taliban had been unseated from power. Karzai considered Massoud a national hero.
One of my heroes. He captivated me after seeing a documentary of his life.
BigSkyFreeper(((Hugs))) See how a TV movie can affect you.I am so liking this person-Some Mother's Son.God Bless him for trying.
It touched me as well. His story demonstrates one of the ugly things about our inconsistent, and to often capricious, foreign policy.
Typical Clinton obstruction and obfuscation.
One of the best and most memorable lines of his from that movie was "Isn't there a man in Washington anymore?". I especially liked it when he gave Reagan credit in Afghanistan's defeat of the Soviet Union. Reagan considered Massoud a close friend, and Massoud considered Reagan his close friend. Their friendship was mutual.
I watched that.It is hard to know any of them let alone yourself.In the end other people measure you-good or bad if you are out there.Damm why is he dead now that I just learned about him.Thank you Massoud .
The most unbelieveable part of his story was the intelligence community under Clinton's command didn't deem him credible enough. He was the only reason the Clinton administration knew where UBL was at any given time in Afghanistan. Ever since Massoud was assassinated on September 9, 2001, the intelligence community has been stymied over the whereabouts of UBL.
That's precisely why they knew they had to kill him.
He should have been more careful about meeting the journalists, but then again, he was probably desperate for any help from the other countries in his fight against the Taliban, and thought that an interview with a foreign journalist would help. So in the end he died because we didn't give him the help that we promised.
and Bush has hade mistakes in IRAQ, compared to Toon's in Afghanistan?
Maybe this is the real reason why Toon, Albright and Berger wanted the docudrama pulled.
Sadly, muslims always butcher all their moderates.
Thanks for posting this..he was a great friend of ours, we should have been a better one to him.
I agree. And for all the criticism heaped on ABC for 'softening' some of the Clinton scenes, the telling of the story of Massoud and what we lost that day had the most impact on me. I had read a few things about him previously and knew we lost and the Afghanis had lost someone important but I truly mourned this hero's death for the first time last night. Thank you ABC and the makers of this film.
A great read about a great man.
Thanks... Will read in full tomorrow.
Well, first of all, I would like to say that this was a very informative post, thank you HAL9000. What I came here to post was some truth to some of the comments made by earlier people. First of all, The comments made by Massoud in the supposed called off attack on Bin Laden's hideout...never happened. Why, you ask? Simple. Massoud was never part of any sort of U.S. special forces strike on Bin Laden. So that was dramatized. The next part is that Massoud would never likely say anything damaging about the US to US citizens, he was seeking aid, and he had an image to uphold, the Northern Alliance's very survival depended on it. Third, Massoud and Reagan never knew each other. I didn't see this mini-series, but come on people...try using other sources besides what is shown to you on tv (you don't seriously believe everything you see on tv, do you? Shame on you).
The man barely ever left Afghanistan (which was one of the very reasons why he was so popular there, he remained on the battlefield, unlike many other mujahideen fighters). This especially goes for during the Afghan-Soviet War. So the idea of him becoming friends with Reagan is ridiculous. The few times he ever did leave were either to Uzbekistan (which shared a border with his northern lines and provided him with aid), Pakistan (back when he was a student, before the Soviet war), and to France (to meet with European officials, to discuss aid), which by the way, adores him, even have a stamp with him on it.
Also, Massoud did run Afghanistan for a short time, but unfortunately he wasn't (and he was the first to admit it) capable of uniting all of the tribes (particularly the Pashtuns aka the majority and a different tribe from that of Massoud's) into a cohesive government. Massoud knew ever since being driven out of the capitol in 1996 that someone else would have to take over once he had defeated the Taliban.
I suggest you read more about him, for he was a truly remarkable man, cut down in his prime. One insightful source was Sebastian Junger's book, Fire, which has the National Geographic article on Massoud (this is the same guy who wrote The Perfect Storm). Also read "The Assassins" by Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker. I hope what I have written has cleared up some of the misunderstandings about Ahmed Shah Massoud.
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