Ahmad Shah Massoud

Ahmad Shah Massoud (احمد شاه مسعود Aḥmad Šāh Masʻūd; 1953 – 2001) was a political and military leader in Afghanistan. He was a central figure in the resistance against the Soviet occupation between 1979 and 1989 and in the following years of civil war. He was assassinated on September 9, 2001.

Massoud came from an ethnic Tajik, Sunni Muslim background from the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan. He studied engineering at Kabul University in the 1970s, where he became involved with Muslim anti-communist movements around Burhanuddin Rabbani. After the Soviet occupation of 1979, his role as an insurgence leader earned him the nickname of "Lion of Panjshir" (شیر پنجشیر). In 1992, he was appointed as the minister of defense through the Peshawar Accord, a peace and power-sharing agreement, in the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan - a position he held until 2001. He fought against an alliance of militias led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and eventually the Taliban who started to lay siege to the capital in January 1995.

Following the rise of the Taliban in 1996, Massoud, who rejected the Taliban's fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, returned to the armed opposition, serving as the military and political leader of the United Islamic Front (also known in the West as Northern Alliance). He was assassinated, probably at the instigation of al-Qaeda, in a suicide bombing on September 9, 2001, just two days before the September 11 attacks that finally caused the US and NATO to intervene in Afghanistan, allying themselves with Massoud's forces.

Massoud was posthumously 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. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd ("Our Beloved Martyred Commander").

Read more about Ahmad Shah Massoud:  Early Life, Assassination

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