Ahmad Shah Massoud was born in the year 1953 in Bazarak, Panjshir, to a well-to-do family native to the Panjshir valley. His name at birth was Ahmed Shah; he took the name "Massoud" as a nom de guerre only when he went into the resistance movement in 1974. His father, Dost Mohammad Khan, was a colonel in the royal Afghan army. From his native Panjshir, his family moved briefly to Herat and then to Kabul, where Massoud spent most of his childhood.
Massoud attented the renowned Franco-Afghan Lycée Esteqlal. Regarded as a gifted student, he studied engineering at Kabul University after his graduation from the Lycée. Massoud spoke Persian, Pashto, Urdu and French and had good English reading skills.
In 1973, Mohammed Daoud Khan was brought to power in a coup d'état backed by the Afghan communist party, and the Republic of Afghanistan was established. These developments gave rise to the Islamist and Islamic movement opposed to the increasing communist and Soviet influence over Afghanistan. During that time, while studying at Kabul University, Massoud became involved with the Sazman-i Jawanan-i Musulman ("Organization of Muslim Youth"), the student branch of the Jamiat-i Islami ("Islamic Society"), whose chairman then was professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. Kabul University was a centre for political debate and activism during that time.
By 1975, after a failed uprising by the Muslim Youth, a "profound and long-lasting schism" among the Islamist and Islamic movement began to emerge. The "Islamic Society" split between supporters of the more moderate forces around Massoud and Rabbani, who led the Jamiat-i Islami, and more radical Islamist elements surrounding Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who then founded the Hezb-i Islami. The conflict reached such a point that Hekmatyar reportedly attempted to kill Massoud, then 22 years old.
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