Ahmed Shah Masood was known as the ‘Lion of Panjshir’. He made a name for himself as a prolific guerrilla commander who drove out Soviet forces during the 1980s. By the late 1990s, he was fighting the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies.
Two days before 9/11, an al-Qaeda suicide squad posed as journalists to interview Ahmad Shah Massoud, who fought the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. Before Ahmed Shah Masood could answer his question, the suicide bombers detonated. Later it was learned that these people, who came as journalists, were carrying explosives in their cameras.
Twenty years after the assassination of Masood and 9/11, another era of uncertainty and bloodshed has again begun in Afghanistan as the Taliban return. The Taliban claim that it has also captured Panjshir, once considered invincible.
Ahmed Shah Masood was known as the ‘Lion of Panjshir’. He made a name for himself as a prolific guerrilla commander who drove out Soviet forces during the 1980s. By the late 1990s, he was fighting the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies. Both the Taliban and al-Qaeda wanted Ahmad Shah Massoud to be killed.
Osama bin Laden himself had ordered the assassination of Masood. The killers pretended to be filming a documentary. The killers had reached Ahmed Shah Masood’s base in Khwaja Bahauddin village in August 2001. “He spent 10 days with us waiting calmly and patiently, and never unnecessarily insisted on an interview,” journalist and Masood’s close aide Faheem Dashti told AFP a few weeks after the murder.
“We didn’t feel comfortable, especially because he had asked the question about bin Laden,” Masoud Khalili, an aide of Ahmed Shah Massoud, told AFP in October 2001.
Later this murder shook the whole of Afghanistan and the world. Masood was seen by anti-Taliban Afghans at the time as the last great hope, and by Western governments as a powerful ally against radical Islamists.
The death of Ahmed Shah Masood was kept hidden for many days. A week after he was killed, Masood was buried in his district, Bajrak. His body was immersed in the colors of the Afghan flag and the funeral procession was attended by thousands of supporters.