Remembering Ahmad Shah Massoud on his 22nd assassination anniversary

Saturday, September 9th, is the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, Afghanistan’s former defense minister and a well-known guerrilla commander of the 20th century.

Massoud became a household name in the early years of Jihad (war) against the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan’s Soviet-back government of the time. He managed to isolate Panjshir province, keeping it free from Soviet intervention.

In the early 1980s, Massoud became infamous for his military competency and repulsed six major incursions by the Russians into Panjshir. It was these accomplishments that led to him being called Sher Panjshir (lion of Panjshir).

After the fall of Dr. Najibullah’s government in 1992, Massoud became the defense minister of the new government. However, civil war broke out in the country, leaving the Mujahideen unable to rule the country.

Thousands of people were killed and Kabul was destroyed as a result of the war that broke out between various Mujahideen groups.

The Taliban moved on to Kabul in the 1990s forcing Massoud and his armed forces north.

Democracy and Election; A Logical Path for Afghanistan

Massoud was in favor of moderate Islam and democracy.

But the Taliban government was extremist.

“The only logical path (solution) for Afghanistan (Afghan crisis) is possible through democracy and election. Every human should have her/his vote,” Massoud said.

In April 2001, Massoud traveled to France and the European Union’s Parliament welcomed him warmly.

“If no attention is paid regarding ensuring peace in Afghanistan and you don’t help the people of Afghanistan to reach peace, for sure, the problem will not only engulf Afghanistan but also the US and many other countries,” he told a gathering in France.

Girls and Women’s Access to Education, Work

Ahmad Shah Massoud supported girls and women’ s access to education and work. “We will not oppose women’s access to education and work and their activities (in society). We will even encourage them,” he said at the time.

Several months after his visit to France, on September 9, 2001, two suicide bombers, who posed as journalists assassinated Massoud. The suicide bombers were Moroccon nationals.

Mohammad Alam Izadyar, the former deputy head of the Meshrano Jirga, the upper house of Afghanistan’s parliament under the republic government, believes that currently, there are more than 20 terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

“If the Taliban were supporting a few numbers of terrorist groups then, including the al-Qaeda, unfortunately, more than 20 terrorist groups including the al-Qaeda and Daesh are present in Afghanistan now. The ground for training and activities have been paved for them systematically and Afghan soil is used as a safe-haven for terrorists against the region and world,” he said.

The Taliban swept back into power after 20-years on August 15, 2021—following a systematic collapse of the western-backed government of president Ashraf Ghani.

Last month, the UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov, told a UN Security Council meeting that the situation in Afghanistan is growing increasingly complex, and that some 20 different terrorist groups are present in Afghanistan.

There are various perceptions regarding Massoud. Some call him “Lion of Panjshir” and some call him “Fatih” (winner) of the cold war but his opponents call him a warlord.

Henderson Alexander Gall, a Scottish journalist and author of a book about Massoud’s biography, labeled him as the “Afghan Napoleon”.

In 2004, a grand assembly called “Loya Jirga” gave Massoud the title of “National Champion of Afghanistan”.