Ahmad Shah Massoud

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Ahmad Shah Massoud : biography

September 2, 1953 – September 9, 2001

Today Panjshir, the home of Massoud, "is arguably the most peaceful place in the entire country. A small US military reconstruction team is based here, but there are none of the signs of foreign occupation that exist elsewhere. Even Afghan soldiers are few and far between. Instead, the people like to boast about how they keep their own security," observes the United Arab Emirates newspaper, The National.

  • A Massoud Foundation was established in 2003, to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans, especially in the fields of health care and education. It also runs programs in the fields of culture, construction, agriculture and welfare.
  • A major road in Kabul was named Great Massoud Road.
  • A monument to Massoud was installed outside the US Embassy.

Early life

Ahmad Shah Massoud was born in the year 1953According to his biographer Michael Barry, his exact date of birth was not recorded (M. Barry, Massoud: de l’islamisme à la liberté, p.56). Some sources give his birth date as 1 September 1953 (E. Girardet, Killing the Cranes, p.180). 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 when he went into the resistance movement in 1974.Barry, Michael, Massoud: de l’islamisme à la liberté, p.57. 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.M. Barry, Massoud, p. 57.

Massoud attended 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 the 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" within 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 founded the Hezb-i Islami. The conflict reached such a point that Hekmatyar reportedly tried to kill Massoud, then 22 years old.