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Profile: Ahmed Shah Massoud

 
  

Positions that Ahmed Shah Massoud has held:

  • President of Afghanistan (1992-1996)


 

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Ahmed Shah Massoud actively participated in the following events:

 
  

October 1998: Military Analyst Goes Where Spies Fail to Go, but Her Efforts Are Rejected      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Julie Sirrs.
Julie Sirrs, a military analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), travels to Afghanistan. Fluent in local languages and knowledgeable about the culture, she had made a previous undercover trip there in October 1997. She is surprised that the CIA was not interested in sending in agents after the failed missile attack on bin Laden in August 1998, so she returns at this time. Traveling undercover, she meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. She sees a terrorist training center in Taliban-controlled territory. Sirrs claims, “The Taliban's brutal regime was being kept in power significantly by bin Laden's money, plus the narcotics trade, while [Massoud's] resistance was surviving on a shoestring. With even a little aid to the Afghan resistance, we could have pushed the Taliban out of power. But there was great reluctance by the State Department and the CIA to undertake that.” She partly blames the interest of the US government and the oil company Unocal to see the Taliban achieve political stability to enable a trans-Afghanistan pipeline (see May 1996) (see September 27, 1996). She claims, “Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul.” She also states, “The State Department didn't want to have anything to do with Afghan resistance, or even, politically, to reveal that there was any viable option to the Taliban.” After two weeks, she returns with a treasure trove of maps, photographs, and interviews. [ABC News, 2/18/02; New York Observer, 3/11/04] By interviewing captured al-Qaeda operatives, she learns that the official Afghanistan airline, Ariana Airlines, is being used to ferry weapons and drugs, and learns that bin Laden goes hunting with “rich Saudis and top Taliban officials” (see Mid-1996-October 2001) (see 1995-2001). [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01 (B)] When she returns from Afghanistan, her material is confiscated and she is accused of being a spy. Says one senior colleague, “She had gotten the proper clearances to go, and she came back with valuable information,” but high level officials “were so intent on getting rid of her, the last thing they wanted to pay attention to was any information she had.” She is cleared of wrongdoing, but her security clearance is pulled. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [New York Observer, 3/11/04; ABC News, 2/18/02] She claims that US intelligence on bin Laden and the Taliban relied too heavily on the ISI for its information. [ABC News, 2/18/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Julie Sirrs, Osama bin Laden, Northern Alliance, Ariana Airlines, Unocal, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

October 1999: CIA Considers Increased Aid to Northern Alliance      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Worried about intercepts showing a growing likelihood of al-Qaeda attacks around the millennium, the CIA steps up ties with Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. The CIA sends a team of agents to his headquarters in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, seeking his help to capture or kill bin Laden. Massoud complains that the US is too focused on bin Laden, and isn't interested in the root problems of Taliban, Saudi, and Pakistani support for terrorism that is propping him up. He agrees to help nonetheless, and the CIA gives him more aid in return. However, the US is officially neutral in the Afghan civil war and the agents are prohibited from giving any aid that would “fundamentally alter the Afghan battlefield.” [Washington Post, 2/23/04] DIA agent Julie Sirrs, newly retired, is at Massoud's headquarters at the same time as the CIA team. She gathers valuable intelligence from captured al-Qaeda soldiers while the CIA agents stay in their guesthouse. She publishes much of what she learned on this trip and other trips in the summer of 2001. [Washington Post, 2/28/04]
People and organizations involved: Julie Sirrs, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Taliban
          

Late Autumn 2000: CIA Support for Massoud Weakens      Complete 911 Timeline

       Covert CIA support for Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance guerrilla leader fighting the Taliban, is minimal and fraying. In the wake of the USS Cole bombing, the CIA develops a plan where the US would increase support for Massoud if he produces strong intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke outlines this CIA proposal to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, but Berger rejects it. Aid to Massoud continues to languish under the new Bush administration, until Clarke's proposal (slightly modified) is tentatively approved a week before 9/11. [Washington Post, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Sandy Berger, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden
          

December 2000: CIA Develops Plan to Increase Support to Massoud, Strike bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center develops a plan to strike at bin Laden in Afghanistan called the “Blue Sky Memo.” It recommends increased support to anti-Taliban groups and especially a major effort to back Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance, to tie down al-Qaeda personnel before they leave Afghanistan. No action is taken in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration; the CIA presses the ideas unsuccessfully early in the new Bush administration. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] The National Security Council counterterrorism staff also prepares a strategy paper, incorporating ideas from the Blue Sky Memo. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: National Security Council, Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Clinton administration
          

April 6, 2001: Rebel Leader Warns Europe and US About Imminent Al-Qaeda Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Shah Massoud speaking before European Parliament.
Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been trying to get aid from the US but his people are only allowed to meet with low level US officials. In an attempt to get his message across, he addresses the European Parliament: “If President Bush doesn't help us, these terrorists will damage the US and Europe very soon.” [Dawn, 4/7/01; Time, 8/4/02] Massoud also meets privately with some CIA officials while in Europe. He tells them that his guerrilla war against the Taliban is faltering and unless the US gives a significant amount of aid, the Taliban will conquer all of Afghanistan. No more aid is forthcoming. [Washington Post, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

June 2001: US Still Fails to Aid Taliban Resistance      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US considers substantially aiding Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance. As one counterterrorism official put it, “You keep [al-Qaeda terrorists] on the front lines in Afghanistan. Hopefully you're killing them in the process, and they're not leaving Afghanistan to plot terrorist operations.” A former US special envoy to the Afghan resistance visits Massoud this month. Massoud gives him “all the intelligence he [has] on al-Qaeda” in the hopes of getting some support in return. However, he gets nothing more than token amounts and his organization isn't even given “legitimate resistance movement” status. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, United States, Northern Alliance
          

September 9, 2001: Northern Alliance Leader Massoud Is Assassinated in Anticipation of 9/11 Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       General Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two al-Qaeda agents posing as Moroccan journalists. [Time, 8/4/02] A legendary mujahedeen commander and a brilliant tactician, Massoud had pledged to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. The BBC says the next day, “General Massoud's death might well have meant the end of the [Northern] alliance” because there clearly was no figure with his skills and popularity to replace him. [BBC, 9/10/01; BBC, 9/10/01 (B)] “With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/9/02] It appears the assassination was supposed to happen earlier: the “journalists” waited for three weeks in Northern Alliance territory to meet Massoud. Finally on September 8, an aide says they “were so worried and excitable they were begging us.” They were granted an interview after threatening to leave if the interview did not happen in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Taliban army (together with elements of the Pakistani army) had massed for an offensive against the Northern Alliance in the previous weeks, but the offensive began only hours after the assassination. Massoud was killed that day but Northern Alliance leaders pretend for several days that Massoud was only injured in order to keep the Northern Alliance army's morale up, and they are able to stave off total defeat. The timing of the assassination and the actions of the Taliban army suggest that the 9/11 attacks were known to the Taliban leadership. [Time, 8/4/02] Though it is not widely reported, the Northern Alliance releases a statement the next day: “Ahmed Shah Massoud was the target of an assassination attempt organized by the Pakistani [intelligence service] ISI and Osama bin Laden.” [Radio Free Europe, 9/10/01; Newsday, 9/15/01; Reuters, 10/4/01] This suggests that the ISI may also have had prior knowledge of the attack plans.
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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