Ahmad Shah, the “Lion of Panjshir," was born in Bazarak to a well-to-do Afghani family sometime in 1953 AD. He took the name “Massoud” as a nom de guerre while leading guerrillas against the Soviet occupation from 1979 through 1989. Following the rise of the Taliban in 1996 Massoud, who initially was willing to work with it to provide stability to the nation but eventually rejected its fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, returned to armed opposition, forming the “United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan.” For his troubles he was assassinated on September 9, probably at the instigation of al-Qaeda, two days before the 2001 attacks in the United States.
Intelligent, well-read (speaking five languages fluently) and devout, Ahmad was an engineering student at Kabul University when he joined the Sazman-i Jawanan-i Musulman (the “Muslim Youth” movement). So he was annoyed when the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan killed the president, his immediate family and his bodyguards in a violent coup in April 1978 and initiated “reforms” along Marxist-Leninist lines. Believing that an uprising against the new government would be widely supported, Ahmad launched it in the Panjshir in July 1979, and the Soviet Union sent forces to support the PDPA in December.
Although initially Massoud’s mujahideen numbered only 5000, his guerrilla tactics in the rugged mountains and valleys were brilliant; his growing forces ambushed Soviet fuel and supply convoys, enemy patrols, military camps and hospitals. Attacks on the enemy infrastructure brought reprisals and six bloody Soviet offensives into the Panjshir. When the Russians finally withdrew from the morass, Afghanistan collapsed into civil war. At first, Massoud sought to include the extremist Taliban, backed by Pakistan, hoping it would help provide added stability in the peace process … but soon he was again leading a resistance movement in the mountains. By this point, he had become an international spokesman for Afghani aspirations of freedom; thus, at the age of 48, Ahmad Massoud became the target of a suicide attack.