Ahmad Shah Massoud

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Ahmad Shah Massoud (-2001) was an Afghan Tajik leader, commanding the forces of the Northern Alliance, who was assassinated, on 9/9/2001, by al-Qaeda. He was an extremely effective and charismatic commander, known as the "Lion of Panshjir", a name given to him for his successes as a military commander during the war against the Soviet occupation, when he operated in the Panshjir Valley.

His forces were the first troops to enter Kabul after the Soviets left, and he became Defense Minister in the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, protecting it from his rival, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was criticized for not protecting the Kabul population from Hekmatyar's bombardment.

When Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence backed the Taliban, they forced Massoud and his allies into the north. His name was the most common battle cry for the anti-Taliban forces.

Once the Taliban were forced out, the Afghan Interim Government under president Hamid Karzai awarded Masood the title of "Hero of the Afghan Nation".

Massoud was an Islamist, but extremely effective in his communications with Westerners. There is considerable debate about how liberal his beliefs actually were. He'd won great batles, but had also let his men participate in the murders of thousands of Hazaras in Kabul in the mid-90s. He was loved by the international community but had also participated in narco-trafficking. At various times, he had accepted money from the Russians, Iranians, Indians and Americans. [1]


  1. Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzulo (2005), Jawbreaker; the attack on bin Laden and al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander, Crown, ISBN 0307351068, pp. 62-63