The of 49 by two journalists, disguised Arabs sent

The leadership
of the Northern Alliance, or more frankly, Massoud was in fact the most
important factor in winning the war against the Taliban. Ahmad Shah Massoud was
also known as “Amir Sahib”, “General Massoud” and “The lion of Panjshir” by his
followers. He was assassinated at the age of 49 by two journalists, disguised
Arabs sent by Al-Qaeda. This was followed by the attack on the twin towers of
the World Trade Center in New York, and the words of Massoud before he was
killed that “This war will spread beyond Afghanistan if not stopped here” came
into reality. He led the guerilla forces that resisted the Islamic regime of
the Taliban in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 until they successfully moved the
Taliban out of many major cities of Afghanistan. He first became famous after
resisting against the Soviet forces during the 1980s (Qazi, 2001).1
His stronghold or The Panjshir Valley is a major factor to his successes
against both the Soviets and the Taliban by having high mountains surrounding
it from all sides. After his victories against the Soviet Union and their
break-up, there was a rivalry of ethnic groups in Afghanistan to take control.
An overwhelming number of Pashtuns joined the Taliban forces, and Ahmad Shah
Massoud set up meetings with different political parties’ leaders to bring them
together and once again form the Northern Alliance which they previously formed
in 1992 but broke-up later. It was formed once more thanks to the efforts of
Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The
Northern Alliance even had the support of some influential Pashtun leaders
because of Massoud’s good relations with different leaders. This was one of the
main reasons for his success in fighting against the Taliban. The leadership of
Massoud and his regional familiarity (he had led the Mujahideen fronts in many
parts of Afghanistan while fighting the Soviet Union), and his guerrilla
fighting skills neutralized the Taliban’s advances in many parts of Afghanistan.
Although the Taliban still posed a formidable challenge for him. This was in
fact a civil war between different ethnic groups with each side being supported
by different foreign nations including Russia and Iran backing the Northern
Alliance, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia supporting the Taliban. The United States
was not involved in Afghanistan directly after the Soviet Union left in 1989.
The Northern Alliance was formed from different political parties which Massoud
brought together: Jamiat-e Islami led by himself and Burhanuddin Rabbani
(primarily Tajik); Junbish-e Milli led by Abdul Rashid Dostum (Uzbek); Eastern
Shura led by Abdul Qadir (Pashtun); Hizb-e wahdat led by Karim Khalili (Hazara),
each political party representing a major ethnic group. This shows that he had
a lot of influence not only amongst the people, but also among the influential
leaders.

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Massoud was a Tajik
who was born in Bazarak, in Panjshir province of Afghanistan but he was brought
up in Kabul. With his father being a colonel in the army of the former Afghan
monarch king Zahir Shah, he learned basic military prowess which helped him
learn basic military tactics right from the start. As a teenager he went to the
French built school in Kabul (Lycee Istiqlal) and then studied engineering at
the Kabul Polytechnic School, where the lessons that he learned gave him an advantage
in his battles. He could not finish his school due to war, but later in an
interview he said that after he takes Afghanistan he will finish his studies.
As a young man, he joined the Muslim Youth League led at the time by an Islamic
scholar Burhanuddin Rabbani. Massoud became a guerilla in 1975, fighting
against the first post-royalist government of Afghanistan or “The Khalq and
Parcham government.” He was forced to flee to Pakistan but later returned in
1978 and took command of the guerrilla forces fighting against the Soviet
Union. When in 1996 Taliban forces overtook the Rabbani government, Massoud was
the Minister of Defense. His enemies accused Massoud of making secret pacts
with the Soviet occupiers that he was supposed to be fighting against. (Telegraph,
2001)2
But in fact it was his knowledge and tactical brilliance that led the Northern
Alliance to victory. It also shows how he came up to be a good leader and his
background to why he was good in tactics.

1
“Ahmad Shah Massoud” – cited from Afghanistan Online (http://www.afghan-web.com)

2
“Ahmad Shah Massoud” – cited from The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk) 

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