Birthday: September 2, 1953
Died At Age: 48
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Lion of Panjshir, Ahmed Shah
Born in: Bazarak, Panjshir, Afghanistan
Famous as: Former Afghan Military & Political Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Sediqa Massoud
father: Dost Mohammad Khan
siblings: Ahmad Wali Massoud, Ahmad Zia Massoud
children: Ahmad Massoud, Ayesha Massoud, Fatima Massoud, Mariam Massoud, Nasrine Massoud, Zohra Massoud
Died on: September 9, 2001
place of death: Takhar Province
Cause of Death: Assassination
Founder/Co-Founder: Northern Alliance
education: Kabul University, Centre d'Enseignement Français en Afghanistan
Who was Ahmad Shah Massoud?
Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was known in his native Afghanistan as the ‘Lion of Panjshir’, was a political and military leader who went on to become one of the most iconic leaders in the history of the country. Massoud was the son of a colonel in the Afghan Royal Army and lived in different parts of Afghanistan during his childhood. He was known to be a gifted student who excelled in the languages and later on went to study engineering at Kabul University, where he came into contact with the Jamiet-e-Islami. He became a part of the student wing of the Jamiet-e-Islami and from then on, he became a member of the struggle to free Afghanistan from the Soviet backed communist government of the PDPA. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Massoud created the mujahideen and waged a war that went on for close to a decade before the Soviets decided to cut their losses and vacate the country. Massoud became one of the most important political and military figures in the country as he helped in overthrowing the communist regime and then emerged as the principal opposition to the Taliban rule later on.
Childhood & Early Life
Ahmad Shah Massoud was born on 2 September, 1953 in Bazarak in Panjshir Province in Afghanistan in a prosperous family to Dost Mohammad Khan and his wife. His father had been a Royal Afghan Army colonel.
Massoud initially studied at local schools in Herat, Afghanistan, during his childhood but when his family moved to Kabul he studied at the elite Lycee Esteqlal. He was widely regarded as a promising student and learnt to speak a variety of languages including English, French, Pashto and Urdu among others. Subsequently he went to Kabul University to study engineering.
During his time at Kabul University, Massoud got involved with the Jamiet-e-Islami’s student wing known as the Muslim Youth and opposed the communist government led by Mohammed Daoud Khan that had come to power in 1973. Two years after the government came to power, an Islamic uprising was quelled and long battle of attrition began.
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After the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan transformed itself as a Marxist-Leninist body in charge of Afghanistan there were widespread protests across the country and Ahmad Shah Massoud contributed towards those efforts by waging a guerrilla war on government forces in the Panjshir area. He started the war in 1979 and initially he did not have any success.
After the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Massoud started a long war with the Soviet forces that lasted for about a decade and Panjshir became his territory from where he operated. His strategy was to create sympathy for their cause among the Afghan population and finally overthrow the Soviet backed Communist government.
The Jaimet-e-Islami group of mujahideen waged a war with some help from the United States against the Soviets from 1980 onward and continued to do so for 9 years as the untrained group of fighters under Massoud notched up improbable triumphs over the Soviets. Following heavy casualties and defeats that left them red faced, the Soviet leadership withdrew their forces from Afghanistan. It was largely due to Massoud’s dogged fight against them.
After the Soviets were driven out, the communist government under Mohammad Najibullah came under the attention of the mujahideen who were led by Massoud in 1989 but it was three years later that the government finally fell. Massoud was offered the opportunity to become Afghanistan’s head of state but he refused to entertain such a move till a political solution had been reached.
Following the power sharing agreement, known as the Peshawar Accord reached in 1992 between the different factions in Afghanistan; Ahmad Shah Massoud became the defence minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-e-Islami refused to honour the agreement in spite of being offered the post of Prime Minister and started a war. Massoud resigned the following year at the Islamabad Accord and Hekmatyar became the Prime Minister.
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, Ahmed Shah Massoud relocated with his men to the north eastern region of the country and created the Northern Alliance as an opposition to the Taliban. He headed the principal opposition against the Taliban rule and in spite of being offered positions of power; he refused to back down from his position. He also created awareness about the brutal Taliban rule in Afghanistan during those years.
Ahmed Shah Massoud’s greatest achievement as a militant leader was his sustained guerrilla war against the far more powerful and resourceful Soviet Army, at the end of which he was successful in driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Massoud was widely appreciated as a leader and was bestowed with the nickname ‘Lion of Panjshir’ and in 2001 he was bestowed upon the title ‘National Hero of Afghanistan’ by President Hamiz Karzai.
Personal Life & Legacy
Ahmed Shah Massoud was married to Sediqa Massoud but the exact date of their marriage is unknown. They had six children- five daughters and one son.
On 9 September, 2001 Massoud was assassinated in a suicide attack in Khwaja Bahauddin. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by Osama bin Laden with ground support from the Pakistani intelligence agency the Inter Services Intelligence.