Ahmad Shah Massoud - Assassination


Massoud, then aged 48, was the target of a suicide attack at Khwaja Bahauddin, in Takhar Province in northeastern Afghanistan on September 9, 2001. The attackers' names were alternately given as Dahmane Abd al-Sattar, husband of Malika El Aroud, and Bouraoui el-Ouaer; or 34-year-old Karim Touzani and 26-year-old Kacem Bakkali.

The attackers claimed to be Belgians originally from Morocco. However, their passports turned out to be stolen and their nationality was later determined to be Tunisian. Waiting for almost three weeks (during which they also interviewed Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf) for an interview opportunity, on September 8, 2001, an aide to Massoud recalls the would-be suicide attackers "were so worried" and threatened to leave if the interview did not happen in the next 24 hours (until September 10, 2001). They were finally granted an interview. During the interview they set off a bomb that was composed of explosives hidden in the camera and in a battery pack belt. Commander Massoud died in a helicopter that was taking him to a military field hospital in nearby Tajikistan. The explosion also killed Mohammed Asim Suhail, a United Front official, while Mohammad Fahim Dashty and Massoud Khalili were injured. One of the suicide attackers, Bouraoui, was also killed by the explosion while Dahmane was captured and shot while trying to escape.

Despite initial denials by the United Front, news of Massoud's death was reported almost immediately, appearing on the BBC, and in European and North American newspapers on September 10, 2001. On September 16, however, the United Front officially announced that Massoud had died of injuries in the suicide attack. Massoud was buried in his home village of Bazarak in the Panjshir Valley. The funeral, although in a remote rural area, was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. (see video).

Until he was assassinated, Massoud had survived assassination attempts for 26 years, including attempts made by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Pakistani ISI and before them the Soviet KGB, the Afghan communist KHAD and Hekmatyar. The first attempt on Massoud's life was carried out by Hekmatyar and two Pakistani ISI agents in 1975 when Massoud was only 22 years old. In early 2001 Al Qaeda would-be assassins were captured by Massoud's forces while trying to enter his territory.

Connection to September 11, 2001

The assassination of Massoud is considered to have a strong connection to the September 11 attacks in 2001 on U.S. soil which killed nearly 3,000 people and which appeared to be the terrorist attack that Massoud had warned against in his speech to the European Parliament several months earlier.

Analysts believe Osama bin Laden ordered the assassination to help his Taliban protectors and ensure he would have their protection and co-operation in Afghanistan. Following the assassination, Osama bin Laden had an emissary deliver a cassette of Dahmane speaking of his love for his wife and his decision to blow himself up as well as $500 in an envelope to settle a debt, to the assassin's widow. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan Wahhabi Islamist, have also been mentioned as possible organizers or collaborators of the Massoud assassins. The assassins are said to have entered United Front (Northern Alliance) territory under the auspices of the Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and had his assistance in bypassing "normal security procedures."

Investigative commission

In April 2003, the Karzai administration announced the setup of a commission to investigate the assassination of Massoud. In 2003, French investigators announced that they and the FBI had been able to trace the provenance of the camera used in the assassination, which had been stolen in France some time earlier.

Read more about this topic:  Ahmad Shah Massoud