Lion of Afghanistan
Ahmed Shah Masood

Moderate leader with pragmatic aspirations for Afghanistan

Ahmed Schah Massud


God Bless Afghanistan  

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15.09 .2001 Mannheimer Morgen

Die Pr�sidentin des Europaparlamentes, Nicole Fontaine, erkl�rte am Samstag in Br�ssel zum Tode Massuds: "Das Attentat ... entspringt aus meiner Sicht der gleichen Strategie wie jene vom Dienstag in New York und Washington. Massud, "dieser mutige Mann", habe die internationale Gemeinschaft vor den von Afghanistan ausgehenden Gefahren gewarnt und um Hilfe gebeten. "Ich bin zutiefst traurig und ersch�ttert", sagte Fontaine. Die Taliban tr�bten weltweit das Bild eines offenen und toleranten Islams.

Ahmad Shah Massoud


Born son of an army colonel in 1953 in the Panjshir Valley in northeastern Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah massoud was educated at the French college in Kabul. Two years after King Zahir Shah was deposed and exiled in 1973 by his cousin Muhammad Daud, Massoud, still a student, led a revolt. It was crushed bloodily and Massoud, with a bullet-wound to the leg, escaped to Pakistan.

Returning, he fought the Soviet forces throughout the 1979-89 occupation and gained a reputation as the most tactically advanced of any Mujahidin commander. He survived ten Soviet offensives.

Since the mid-1980s he overshadowed his political mentor Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former theology professor and head of the Jamiat-i-Islami party which Massoud joined in 1973. Significantly it was Massoud who earlier this year made a high-profile visit to Europe - not the older softer-spoken Rabbani who remains Afghanistan's UN-recognised president.

In 1992 he led his fighters into Kabul, overthrowing the communist President Najibullah. It was the high point of Masood�s career as a guerrilla commander. Made Minister of Defence by President Rabbani, he thwarted hostile opposition forces and held on to the capital until defections allowed the Pakistani-backed Taleban into Kabul in 1996.

Then Masood�s fortunes began to slide. Repeated betrayals cost him dearly and by summer this year his coalition was hanging on to no more than 10 percent of Afghanistan, the forgotten heroes of the Cold War left to fight on alone against the numerically superior and better equipped Taleban.

By his own admission, the experience left Masood with his demons. "I have had so many �worst moments� in my life that I can�t remember the worst," he said bleakly last November. "Also regrets: I have many regrets, regrets for things I have or have not done in the war, regrets that when I had Kabul I could not have done better for the people."

For a visionary architect and a leader for constructing a democratic government, his dreams were shattered by the Taleban. Massoud wanted a democratic government with elected officials because he understood the ethnic diversity of the country.

His inability to maintain unity in his ethnically divided coalition army and country was his biggest regret. Though he could always rely on his Panjshiri troops, the loyalty of his Hazara allies and Uzbeks commanded by General Abdul Rashid Dostum was always open to question. His supporters idolised him as "The Lion of Panjshir"; critics slated him as a nepotist who favored Panjshiris over others.

Yet he remained all that stood in the face of a total seizure of the nation by the Taleban. In a cruel twist, the Taleban were supported by Osama bin Laden, a figure Masood�s own people are said to have let into Afghanistan in the early 1990s after his expulsion from Sudan. Of his few mistakes this may have been Masood�s most fateful, given the likelihood that his assassin was one of bin Laden�s prot�g�s.

Massoud was mortally wounded by suicide bombers on September 9 2001, dying within minutes.

The attack, at Khwaja Bahauddin on the Tajikistan border, was carried out by two Arabs posing as journalists. During an interview in the Afghan chief's office one detonated a bomb concealed in a video camera.

The assassins were Algerians affiliated to the al-Qaeda organisation of indicted Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden and a major supporter and financier of the Afghan Taliban.

Both Arabs were killed in the attack along with a spokesman-interpreter, Assem Suhail. The blast badly wounded the Afghan ambassador to India, Massoud Khalili, who was also present, and a Foreign Ministry official.

The blast removed the most dynamic, charming and charismatic figure from play in the world�s wildest war zone.

Ending a tumultuous 22 year military career battling Soviet communists and since 1995 the Pakistan-backed Taliban, his death throws the opposition United Front (UF) into disarray and will have a major impact on the future of the conflict.

His role has combined charismatic military strongman with astute political leader, won him immense national and international recognition.

To few will fall the task of holding the states together. Given Massoud's legendary stature and military experience, finding an equal successor will be an impossible task.

On the Afghan battlefield, the loss of a charismatic commander is more likely to breed despair and defeatism than to stiffen resolve to fight on.


  Ahmed Shah Masood

Moderate leader with pragmatic aspirations for Afghanistan

Sandy Gall
Monday September 17, 2001
The Guardian

In April 1992, three years after the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Masood, who has been assassinated in his late 40s, climbed into a Soviet jeep at Bagram airport and led a column of tanks down the road to Kabul.

Three hours later, after a brief stop to pray on the empty road, he entered the capital. Not a shot was fired, although there was heavy fighting immediately before between Masood's coalition force, and the troops of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the communist interior minister, who were also trying to take the city.

Masood's victory, the result of three years' planning, and the speed of his reaction to the collapse of the Najibullah regime, deserted at the end by its Soviet sponsors, stunned everyone. In particular, ISI, the Pakistan army's intelligence arm, which had supported the Pashtun Hekmatyar throughout the war, and virtually ignored Masood in terms of money and arms, were angry. After all their careful planning, the final prize of the Afghan war had eluded them.

The son of a colonel in King Zaher Shah's army, Ahmed Shah Masood always wanted to be a soldier. As a boy, according to his father, he played war games with his friends. After primary school in Herat, he attended the French-run Istiqlal lycee in Kabul. Instead of joining the army, however, he studied engineering at Kabul Polytechnic, where Hekmatyar was also a student.

In 1975, Hekmatyar, an Islamic firebrand, was involved in a coup against President Daoud, who two years earlier had deposed the king, his cousin. With Daoud's pro-Moscow policies becoming increasingly unpopular, Hekmatyar asked Masood to organise a rebellion in his home valley, the Panjsher, 100 miles northeast of Kabul.

Masood at first declined, but finally agreed, according to one of his brothers, when Hekmatyar taunted him with being a coward. Although the coup succeeded in the Panjsher, it failed nationally, and Masood and Hekmatyar both fled to Pakistan.

There Masood received guerrilla warfare training from ISI, and read Mao Zedong, Che Guevara and an American general, an expert on guerrilla warfare, whose name, he once told me, he could not remember. In June 1979, he slipped across the border to begin his resistance, at first against the Afghan communists, and later against the Soviets, after their invasion the following December.

He had with him only 27 companions, armed with a collection of weapons ranging from two Kalashnikovs and two RPG7s with seven rockets, to five shotguns and nine old-fashioned British .303s. In one abortive operation, he was wounded in the leg and suddenly realised, as he said later, that "training, training, training" was the key to success.

By summer 1982, when I made a one-hour documentary, Behind Russian Lines, about this "potential second Tito" for ITV, Masood had survived six major Russian offensives. Four years later, he had expanded his operations to the north, capturing a key government fort in Takhar province, and later taking the provincial capital, Taloqan.

Masood and his allies now controlled virtually the whole of northeast Afghanistan and, by early 1992, when one of Naj- ibullah's northern commanders, General Momen, and the feared Uzbek general, Abdul Rashid Dostum, defected, he knew victory was near.

It came, in fact, with the speed of an avalanche, sweeping Masood to the post of defence minister in the new mujahideen government, of which Professor Rabbani, the head of Jamiat-i-Islami, was president. But soon things turned sour. Three months later, Hekmatyar, supported by the ISI, mounted a savage rocket attack on Kabul. One eyewitness counted 600 rockets "before breakfast". On new year's day 1993, Masood and the government came under ferocious attack from Hekmatyar, his erstwhile ally Dostum, and the Shias. Against all the odds, they survived, but the destruction unleashed on Kabul was horrific.

In 1994, the Taliban emerged. At first, Masood welcomed them but, as their ruthless tactics and appetite for power became clear, he changed his mind. In 1995, they took Herat and, soon laid siege to Kabul. By summer 1996, Masood knew he had no option but to withdraw. It was a fighting retreat, followed by a brilliant series of counter-attacks. But, inexorably, he was driven ever deeper into a corner.

His assassination is a tragic loss for his country. Modern-minded, pragmatic, sensible and moderate, he had much still to offer. He will be remembered mainly for his military resistance against the Soviet Union, but he was also a civilised man in the best Afghan tradition, with a love of poetry. When he left Kabul for the last time in 1996, he took with him a library of 2,000 books.

He is survived by his wife, Sadiqa, and one son and four daughters. Ahmed Shah Masood, soldier and politician, born c1952; died September 15, 2001.


              Ara-Paki-Taliban            Afghanistan         Der Blick in die Vergangenheit


Der Blick in die Zukunft

Ich bin wirklich stolz auf euch, sagt der Lion of Afghanistan,
so lange Ihr einigt seid!

Jetzt, wo das Land von den Moerderbanden der Ara-Paki-Taliban
befreit ist ,muessen alle Voelker Afghanistan das Recht haben, 
in Freiheit und Frieden miteinander zu leben.


















Gott schuetze euch und Afghanistan





Ahmad Shah Mas�ud (1953-2001)

Sunil Sainis


War brutalizes man, every afghan bears living testimony to this. If the landscape of Afghanistan bears the craters of the endless war, the political and military leadership in Afghanistan also carries war�s indelible scars. It is important never to lose sight of this.

Ahmed Shah Mas�ud was born to an army family in 1953 in the Panjshir Valley north of the Afghan capital Kabul. His father was a colonel in the Afghan Army and enrolled his son at Kabul�s Lycee Istiqlal High School. Upon graduation Mas�ud joined Kabul's Polytechnic Institute. In 1973 King Zahir Shah was deposed and exiled by his cousin Muhammad Daud.  For the young, idealistic, afghan nationalist Mas�ud, this was unacceptable. He plunged headlong into politics, and though still a student led a revolt against the regime. Daud�s agents crushed the revolt and gave Mas�ud a bullet-wound in his leg. Mas�ud escaped to Pakistan.

The Pakistanis gave the Afghan opposition military and political aid. A secret cell under the IG Frontier Corps coordinated the Pakistani effort. The money for this came from Saudi Arabia. Initially Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Rabbani, Younas Khalis, Ahmad Shah Mas�ud, and others were trained in sabotage, and upon instructions from Pakistani officers in 1974, enticed revolts in Afghanistan. Mas�ud returned to Panjsher, but as elsewhere his revolt too faced a brutal government crackdown and failed miserably. Most of the rebels barely made it back to Pakistan.

The Daud government fell in 1978, the victim of the communist coup of 1978, this created more political upheaval in Afghanistan. The entry of the Soviet Army in 1979 caused a large number of political leaders to flee Afghanistan. This gave Pakistani planners more choices and massive sums of American money and military support. The Pakistanis emphasized on Islam to counterbalance the Afghan nationalism and came to have a controlling influence on the flow of American aid. Pakistani support focused on the `gang of seven�, i.e. Hekmatyar, Khalis, Rabbani, Abdul Rasul Sayaf, Pir Sayed Ahmad Gilani, Sibgratullah Mojadidi, and Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi.

Mas�ud joined Burahanuddin Rabbani�s Jamiat-i-Islami (Society of Islam) and returned to Afghanistan. He established bases in the Panjshir Valley. Mas�ud placed great emphasis on training, coordination and discipline in battle. His appeal drew thousands of volunteers from local villages. He assigned administrative and political responsibilities of the villages that sustained his movement to some of these volunteers. He also formed mobile units, local defense elements and support units with proper operational areas. This policy paid rich dividends on the field. His successes around the Salang Tunnel provoked a response from the Soviet army.  Operations began in 1981 and employed corps size formations of Soviet and DRA Army troops equipped with armored personnel carriers and tanks, supported by artillery and Mi-24 helicopters.

The campaign was very bloody, the Soviets took massive losses; defections plagued the DRA Army. Mas�ud�s display of raw courage and tactical genius during the conduct of these battles earned him the title of `Shir-e-Panjshir� (The Lion of the Panjshir Valley), and his fighters became very skilled. The repeated Soviet offensives (PANJSHIR I- PANJSHIR VI) eventually took their toll on Mas�ud�s forces. By 1983, Mas�ud utilized a delaying tactic, he agreed to a six-month truce in the Panjshir Valley. Neither side even remotely anticipated an end to war but hoped for near-term advantages.  The truce lasted till 1985, and Mas�ud used the time to build up political support and to give his troops much needed rest. The Soviets went to war elsewhere in Afghanistan, most notably in Herat. The truce was not well received in Pakistan, many Mujaheddin, labeled Mas�ud a traitor to the cause.

 Mas�ud managed to overcome the political drawbacks of his decision. His meetings with the American CIA helped rebuild strength and eventually gave his men access to the Stinger Missile system. By late 1984 the truce had completely broken down, and Mas�ud�s forces once again posed a major threat to the Salang Tunnel. In 1985, Mas�ud expanded his administration, establishing the Shura-e Nizar (Supervisory Council), which oversee the affairs of the vast area from Panjshir to Badakhshan. But this administration faced great difficulties as the Soviets returned to the Panjshir valley in stunning form. Using vast numbers of airborne assault troops (VDV) and helicopters, they took the bulk of the valley in the massive Operation Panjsher VII. This forced Mas�ud� out of the valley and created a refugee crisis in the parts administered by Mas�ud.  The Soviets set up a system of forts to dominate the valley. Mas�ud was undeterred; he absorbed the hit and soon re-tasked his men to harass these forts and their lines of communication. Investing still more in training and coordination, his raid on the DRA Army position at Pechgur Fort, resulted in the death of the DRA Army Central Corps Chief of Staff Brig. Ahmaddodin and the capture of several officers. Despite counter-offensives Mas�ud continued his campaign against the Soviets with much vigor.

The growing cost of war forced the Soviets to leave Afghanistan in 1988, Mas�ud yet again struck a deal with them, allowing them safe passage across the Salang Tunnel, in exchange for weapons and expanding his military control in areas north of Kabul and northern Afghanistan. With Iranian backing, Mas'ud helped set up the Ittehad-e Samt-e Shamal (Northern Alliance) in early 1992. He allied with Gen. Abdulrasheed Dostum to capture most of Kabul after Najibullah's fall in April of 1992. This came as a rude surprise to the Pakistani intelligence community, who were hoping that their `favorite� Gulbudin Hekmatyar would march in Kabul ahead of Mas�ud. In the first government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Rabbani was President, and Mas�ud was made Defence Minister.

Mas�ud could not unify the fractious allies. His inability to get along with Gulbudin Hekmatyar during his exile in Pakistan had always been a source of trouble. His group was constanly involved in bloody clashes with Gulbudin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e Islami. The clashes resulted in considerable causalities on both sides even during the fighting against Soviet backed Kabul regime. This discord continued long after Mujaheedin took over of Kabul power in 1992.  Mas�ud was suspicious of the Pakistanis, and when the Benazir Bhutto government brokered a new alliance aimed at forcing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as the prime minister of Afghanistan by way of the Islamabad Accords, Mas�ud opposed it. Mas�ud and Hekmatyar�s power struggle intensified and spilled over into Kabul City. The fa�ade of Mujaheddin unity was shredded to bits as Gen. Abdulrasheed Dostum and Hazaras defected to Hekmatyar�s side exposing Mas�ud�s flanks. This prolonged the conflict, eventually, Mas�ud�s forces wrested control of Kabul City, but the victory came at a horrific cost to its citizens and almost totally polarized Mas�ud�s relations with Pakistan. Still recovering from a bloody confrontation with his former allies, Mas�ud could only watch the march of the Taliban. 

When the Taliban met Mas�ud for the first time in February 1995, they demanded he surrender and disarm. True to form, while meeting Mas�ud on the side the Taliban also opened negotiations with the Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari. Mas�ud moved to unbalance the Hazaras in south Kabul in a swift offensive on March 6, 1995. In the ensuring fracas, the Hazara leader Mazari was killed in Taliban custody. This permanently destroyed any hope of a Taliban-Hazara peace, and later resulted in the worst sectarian massacres that the region has seen. Regrouping quickly on March 11, 1995 Mas�ud launched a major offensive against the Taliban and drove them out of Kabul city. The bloody street fighting left hundreds of Talibs dead.  Mas�ud�s victory brought the Taliban�s `Unstoppable March� to a sudden halt. Against the superior military force of Ahmad Shah Mas�ud, the as yet weakly organized Taliban stood no chance. 

The Taliban shifted their attention and advanced on Shindand airbase held by Ismail Khan, Mas�ud airlifted 2000 of his fighters to Shindand and with the help of aerial bombardment by ex-DRAAF officers, and he broke up the Taliban offensive. The Taliban suffered 3000 casualties in this campaign.  The Pakistan ISI now brokered and agreement between Gen. Abdulrasheed Dostum and the Taliban. Gen. Dostum then rebuilt the Taliban Air Force at Kandahar, and the Talibs built up an army of 25,000 troops. They used these to overrun Herat City in October 1995. The Taliban also initiated operations against Kabul in November, but Mas�ud�s men were able to stop these offensives. The relationship between Mas�ud and Pakistan grew worse with each passing day.

On June 26, 1996 Gulbudin Hekmatyar once again changed sides and joined the Rabbani Govt. as the Prime Minister. This angered the Taliban and the Pakistanis, as it made a mockery of their `Anti-Rabbani Alliance� efforts. The Taliban intensified rocket attacks on Kabul city. This marked the beginning of the Taliban�s second assault on Kabul. The Taliban quickly doubled back to seize Jalalabad in August 1996 after bribing the reigning warlord. Then in a swift campaign, they seized the provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, and Kunar. Next they advanced with lightning speed taking Sarobi and finally entering Kabul city itself. The speed of the advance paralyzed the Rabbani Govt, Mas�ud accused the Pakistanis of involving regular troops in Taliban offensives.  On 26 September 1996, Mas'ud lost control of Kabul to Taliban. He retreated to his main bases in Panjsher. After the loss of Kabul, Mas�ud chose to be more open in his opposition to the Pakistan army. He engaged in military confrontations with the Taliban at Bagram, and later in Konduz, Takhar, and Baghlan. His position grew precarious with each battle. Pakistani manipulation and the world�s short attention span brought many hard days on him.  As the Pan-Islamist agendas of the Taliban became clearer, international support for Mas�ud returned and slowly despite murderous losses in the battles against a Taliban army composed increasingly of Pakistani Army regulars, Mas�ud continued to pose a serious military and political challenge to the Taliban and Usama Bin Laden�s Al Qai�da.  

On September 9, 2001, two suicide bombers posing as Algerian news reporters assassinated Ahmad Shah Mas�ud at his headquarters in Khwaja Bahauddin. Before detonating the explosive packed into a TV camera, the assassins repeatedly asked Mas�ud why he rejected Usama Bin Laden�s leadership and the International Islamic Jehad. A few days later on September 11, 2001 hijackers loyal from Al Qai�da carried out suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC. The apparent connection between these two events seems impossible to ignore. It seems as though just before launching the first war of this millennium, Usama Bin Laden eliminated his most immediate and dangerous adversary, and thus extinguished one of Afghanistan�s brightest stars.

To summarize, Ahmad Shah Mas�ud represents the violently independent spirit of the Afghan people. Like most Afghans, Mas�ud had a predisposition towards infighting. This otherwise mild discord was amplified in minor part by the circumstance of war, and in greatest part by the cynical manipulations and sinister machinations of the Pakistan Army, which tried to enslave the Afghan people via Pashtun proxies.  Some liberals and intellectuals seek to defame Mas�ud as an opportunistic ethnic warlord, and yet even a casual glance shows that his actions pale into nothingness when compared to the acts of the Taliban.  

With the passage of time, Mas�ud's minor transgressions will be forgotten and his military brilliance, his will to oppose the systematic murder of civilians in the name of faith, and most of all his commitment to the freedom of the Afghan people will remain the dominant motifs in his memory. The people of all civilized nations shall mourn his passing.

The Omaid Weekly carries the following words on its website:


The author feels such qualifications are unnecessary, in the difficult years that lie ahead; the mere words `Ahmed Shah Mas�ud� shall come to mean praise in themselves.  


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