United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan

United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan

Discussion
Ask a question about 'United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan'
Start a new discussion about 'United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The United Islamic Front (United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, UIF, Jabha-yi Muttahid-i Islami-yi Milli bara-yi Nijat-i Afghanistan), known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

 in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. The organization united all ethnic groups of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 fighting against the Afghan Taliban who were supported by neighboring Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Bin Laden's
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 Al Qaeda. The United Front included Tajiks, Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, Hazaras, Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

, Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

 and others.

In late 2001, after the September 11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that killed 3,000 people, the United Front succeeded in retaking most of Afghanistan from the Taliban with assistance from the United States armed forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

, U.S. special forces, British armed forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 and British Special forces
United Kingdom Special Forces
The United Kingdom Special Forces is a UK Ministry of Defence Directorate which also has the capability to provide a Joint Special Operations Task Force Headquarters...

. Despite fears of a return to the chaos similar to that of the 1992–1996 civil war, all the different UIF factions accepted the new interim Karzai administration led by Afghan President
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

.

Commanders and factions


Beside Ahmad Shah Massoud the best-known commanders of the United Front were:
  • (from the north) Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Daoud Daoud, Qasim Fahim, Gul Haider, Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq, Rashid Dostum, Qazi Kabir Marzban;
  • (from the east) Haji Abdul Qadir
    Abdul Qadir (Afghan leader)
    Hajji Abdul Qadir Arsala was a former anti-Taliban leader in the United Islamic Front in Afghanistan...

    , Hazrat Ali, Jaan Daad Khan and Abdullah Wahedi, Qatrah and Najmuddin;
  • (from the south) Qari Baba, Noorzai and Hotak;
  • (from the west and southwest) Ismail Khan
    Ismail Khan
    Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

    , Doctor Ibrahim, and Fazlkarim Aimaq;
  • (from central Afghanistan) Hussain Anwari, Said Hussein Aalemi Balkhi, Said Mustafa Kazemi, Akbari, Mohammad Ali Jawed, Karim Khaili and Sher Alam.


The political parties (factions) in contrast to the commanders played only a minor role in the war against the Taliban:
  • Islamic Party of Afghanistan - Jamiat-i Islami - Made up of mainly Persian-speaking Sunni Tajiks officially led by Burhanuddin Rabbani
    Burhanuddin Rabbani
    Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

    .
  • Islamic Movement of Afghanistan
    Islamic Movement of Afghanistan
    Islamic Movement of Afghanistan is a political party and former faction of the Afghan Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. The movement is registered as a political party with the Ministry of Justice. From its foundation to 2005, the movement was led by Ayatollah Muhammad Asif Muhsini. The movement...

     - Harakat-i Islami - Shia Tajiks and Hazaras led by Ayatollah
    Ayatollah
    Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

     Muhammad Asif Muhsini
    Muhammad Asif Muhsini
    Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Asif Muhsini is a Twelver shi'a marja from Afghanistan. He is the founder of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan . He was born in Kandahar to an ethnic Tajik Shia family...

    .
  • Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan - Hezb-i Wahdat - Made up of Shia Hazaras and supported by Iran, led by Mohammed Mohaqiq and Karim Khalili
    Karim Khalili
    Abdul Karim Khalili is the current second Vice President of Afghanistan in the administration of President Hamid Karzai. Khalili was appointed first time as Vice President in 2002 and was elected as running mate of Hamid Karzai in 2004...

    .
  • National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan - Junbish-i Milli - Made up of Uzbeks
    Uzbeks
    The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

     and former communists, led by Abdul Rashid Dostum
    Abdul Rashid Dostum
    Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

    .
  • Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
    Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
    The Islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan is a political party in Afghanistan led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. Founded in the early 1980s as the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan , it was originally an attempt to bring unity amongst Islamist opposition forces in Afghanistan...

     - Ittihad-i Islami - Sunni Pashtuns
    Pashtun people
    Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

    , led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
    Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
    Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is an Afghan Islamist politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan....

    .
  • Eastern Shura - Sunni Pashtuns led by Abdul Qadir
    Abdul Qadir (Afghan leader)
    Hajji Abdul Qadir Arsala was a former anti-Taliban leader in the United Islamic Front in Afghanistan...


The two main political candidates in the Afghan Presidential Elections of 2009 both worked for the United Front:
  • Abdullah Abdullah
    Abdullah Abdullah
    Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

     (was a close friend of Ahmad Shah Massoud and the foreign minister of the alliance)
  • Hamid Karzai
    Hamid Karzai
    Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

     (his father was killed by the Taliban, he subsequently went on a diplomatic mission to gather support for Massoud in Europe and the U.S. in 2000/2001)

Background



After the fall of the communist Najibullah-regime in 1992, the Afghan political parties agreed on a peace and power-sharing agreement (the Peshawar Accords). The Peshawar Accords created the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan
The Islamic State of Afghanistan was the name of the state of Afghanistan after the collapse of the communist regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992. In 1996, the country was renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by the Taliban, after seizing control of the majority of the...

. From the first day of its founding until late 1994, the newly-created Islamic State of Afghanistan (ISA) came under attack by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

's Hezb-i Islami militia armed, financed and instructed by neighboring Pakistan. Afghanistan expert Amin Saikal
Amin Saikal
Professor Amin Saikal is Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies and Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. Professor Saikal has specialised in the politics, history, political economy and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia...

 concludes in Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival:
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

 and his Junbish-i Milli militia joined an alliance with Hekmatyar in early 1994. In addition, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 - as competitors for regional hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 - supported Afghan militias hostile towards each other. According to Human Rights Watch, Iran was assisting the Shia Hazara Hezb-i Wahdat forces of Abdul Ali Mazari
Abdul Ali Mazari
Abdul Ali Mazari was a political leader of the Hezbe Wahdat during and following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Mazari was an ethnic Hazara, and believed the solution to the divisiveness in Afghanistan was in federalism, where every ethnic group would have specific constitutional...

, as Iran was attempting to maximize Wahdat's military power and influence. Saudi Arabia supported the Wahhabite Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf is an Afghan Islamist politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan....

 and his Ittihad-i Islami faction. Conflict between the two militias soon escalated into a full-scale war. The capital city Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 saw extremely violent fighting during that period. Power was highly decentralized.

Meanwhile, southern Afghanistan was neither under the control of foreign-backed militias nor the government in Kabul, but was ruled by local leaders such as Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai
Gul Agha Sherzai is the current Governor of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.He previously served as Governor of Kandahar province, in the early 1990s and from 2001 until 2003.-Biography:...

 and their militias. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam is a political party in Pakistan. It formed a combined government in national elections in 2002 and 2008...

-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force, reportedly in opposition to the tyranny of the local governor in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

. In 1994, the Taliban took power in several provinces in southern and central Afghanistan.

In late 1994, most of the militia factions (Hezb-i Islami, Junbish-i Milli and Hezb-i Wahdat) which had been fighting in the battle for control of Kabul were defeated militarily in Kabul by forces of the Islamic State's Secretary of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. Bombardment of the capital came to a halt. Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation
Democratic consolidation
Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock...

 and democratic elections, also inviting the Taliban to join the process. The Taliban declined. They started shelling Kabul in early 1995 but were defeated by forces of the Islamic State government under Secretary of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. On September 26, 1996, as the Taliban with military support by Pakistan and financial support by Saudi Arabia prepared for another major offensive, Massoud ordered a full retreat from Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul on September 27, 1996, and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Islamic State government remained the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan. The Taliban's Islamic Emirate received recognition only from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The Taliban imposed on the parts of Afghanistan under their control their political and judicial interpretation of Islam issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school, or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.

Creation of the United Front


Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum, two former archnemesis, created the United Front (Northern Alliance) against the Taliban that were preparing offensives against the remaining areas under the control of Massoud and those under the control of Dostum. see video The United Front included beside the dominantly Tajik forces of Massoud and the Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 forces of Dostum, Hazara factions and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq
Abdul Haq (Afghan leader)
Abdul Haq was an Afghan Pashtun mujahideen commander who fought against the Soviets and Afghan communists during the Soviet-Afghan War...

, Haji Abdul Qadir
Abdul Qadir (Afghan leader)
Hajji Abdul Qadir Arsala was a former anti-Taliban leader in the United Islamic Front in Afghanistan...

, Qari Baba or diplomat Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai was a politician and diplomat of Afghanistan. He was an ethnic Pashtun, a member of the Mohammadzai tribe. During the 1970s he entered the Afghan foreign service. He was sent to the United States to represent the political administration supported by the Soviet Union. As...

. From the Taliban conquest in 1996 until November 2001 the United Front controlled roughly 30% of Afghanistan's population in provinces such as Badakhshan
Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region.-Geography:...

, Kapisa
Kapisa Province
Kapisa is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Mahmud-i-Raqi, and other districts include Kohistan, Nijrab and Tagab. The population of Kapisa is estimated to be 364,900, although there has never been an official estimate...

, Takhar
Takhar Province
Takhār is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It was established in 1964 when Qataghan Province was divided into three provinces: Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Taloqan. Its salt mines are one of Afghanistan's major mineral resources...

 and parts of Parwan, Kunar
Kunar Province
Kunar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. Its capital is Asadabad. It is one of the four "N2KL" provinces...

, Nuristan, Laghman, Samangan
Samangan Province
Samangan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The province covers and has a population of approximately 313,211, as of 2006.Its capital, Samangan, is known for its ancient ruins including, notably, the Takht e Rostam...

, Kunduz, Ghōr and Bamyan.

The Taliban defeated Dostum's Junbish forces militarily by seizing Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. Dostum subsequently went into exile.

Pakistani military interference



Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf , is a retired four-star general who served as the 13th Chief of Army Staff and tenth President of Pakistan as well as tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Musharraf headed and led an administrative military government from October 1999 till August 2007. He ruled...

 - then as Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Pakistan
The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee , is a military administrative body of high-ranking and senior uniformed military leaders and officers in the Pakistan Defense Forces who advises the civilian Government of Pakistan, National Security Council, and Defence Minister on important military matters...

 - was responsible for sending thousands of Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban and Bin Laden against the forces of Massoud. In total there were believed to be 28,000 Pakistani nationals, under the command of General Naseem Rana
Naseem Rana
Lieutenant-General Naseem Rana is a retired three-star general in the Pakistan Army, who in the course of Pakistan war in Afghanistan, played a pivotal role in leading the ISI in promoting Pakistani Interest during the Afghanistan Civil War to provide help to irregular hardline Taliban forces...

, fighting inside Afghanistan against the forces of Massoud. 20,000 were regular Pakistani soldiers either from the Frontier Corps
Frontier Corps
The Frontier Corps is a federally-controlled paramilitary force of Pakistan, recruited mostly from the tribal areas along the western borders and led by officers from the Pakistan Army...

 or Army and an estimated 8,000 were militants recruited in madrassas filling regular Taliban ranks under the command of principle military leader of Pakistan combatant forces General Naseem Rana. The estimated 25,000 Taliban regular force thus comprised more than 8,000 Pakistani nationals. A 1998 document by the U.S. State Department confirms that "20-40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani." The document further states that the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan." A further 3,000 fighter of the regular Taliban army were Arab and Central Asian militants. From 1996 to 2001 the Al Qaeda of Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

 became a state within the Taliban state. Bin Laden sent Arab recruits to join the fight against the United Front. Of roughly 45,000 Pakistani, Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers fighting against the forces of Massoud only 14,000 were Afghan.

Taliban massacres

According to a 55-page report by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacre
Massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

s against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. They also said, that "[t]hese have been highly systematic and they all lead back to the [Taliban] Ministry of Defense or to Mullah Omar himself." Al Qaeda's so-called 055 Brigade
055 Brigade
The 055 Brigade was an elite guerrilla organization sponsored and trained by Al Qaeda that was integrated into the Taliban army between 1995 and 2001...

 was also responsible for mass-killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 quotes eyewitnesses in many villages describing Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people.

Ahmad Shah Massoud


Ahmad Shah Massoud remained the only leader of the United Front in Afghanistan. The Taliban repeatedly offered Massoud a position of power to make him stop his resistance. Massoud declined. He explained in one interview:
"The Taliban say: “Come and accept the post of prime minister and be with us”, and they would keep the highest office in the country, the presidentship. But for what price?! The difference between us concerns mainly our way of thinking about the very principles of the society and the state. We can not accept their conditions of compromise, or else we would have to give up the principles of modern democracy. We are fundamentally against the system called “the Emirate of Afghanistan”."
"There should be an Afghanistan where every Afghan finds himself or herself happy. And I think that can only be assured by democracy based on consensus."

Massoud wanted to convince the Taliban to join a political process leading towards democratic elections in a foreseeable future. He also stated:
"The Taliban are not a force to be considered invincible. They are distanced from the people now. They are weaker than in the past. There is only the assistance given by Pakistan, Osama bin Laden and other extremist groups that keep the Taliban on their feet. With a halt to that assistance, it is extremely difficult to survive."

In early 2001 the United Front employed a new strategy of local military pressure and global political appeals. Resentment was increasingly gathering against Taliban rule from the bottom of Afghan society including the Pashtun areas. In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban. Many civilians fled to the area of Ahmad Shah Massoud. National Geographic concluded in its documentary "Inside the Taliban": "The only thing standing in the way of future Taliban massacres is Ahmad Shah Massoud." In the areas under his control Massoud set up democratic institutions and signed the Women's Rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 Declaration. At the same time he was very wary not to revive the failed Kabul government of the early 1990s. Already in 1999 the United Front leadership ordered the training of police forces specifically to keep order and protect the civilian population in case the United Front would be successful. In early 2001 Ahmad Shah Massoud addressed the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 asking the international community
International community
The international community is a term used in international relations to refer to all peoples, cultures and governments of the world or to a group of them. The term is used to imply the existence of common duties and obligations between them...

 to provide humanitarian help to the people of Afghanistan.(see video) He stated that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

" and that without the support of Pakistan and Bin Laden the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for up to a year. On this visit to Europe he also warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent.

On September 9, 2001, two Arab suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

ers, allegedly belonging to Al Qaeda, posing as journalists, detonated a bomb hidden in a video camera while interviewing Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

 in the Takhar province of Afghanistan. Commander Massoud died in a helicopter that was taking him to a hospital. He was buried in his home village of Bazarak
Bazarak, Panjshir
Bazarak is a town in the Panjshir Valley, in northern Afghanistan. It is also the provincial capital of Panjshir Province. It has six villages: Khanez, Jangalak, Malaspa, Parandeh, Rahmankhil...

 in the Panjshir Valley
Panjshir Valley
The Panjshir Province is a valley in north-central Afghanistan, 150 km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush mountain range. Located in the Panjshir Province it is divided by the Panjshir River...

. The funeral, although taking place in a rather rural area, was attended by hundreds of thousands of mourning people. Sad day (video clip).

The assassination of Massoud is considered to have a strong connection to the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 on U.S. soil which killed nearly 3000 people and which appeared to be the terrorist attack that Massoud had warned against in his speech to the European Parliament several months earlier. John P. O'Neill
John P. O'Neill
John Patrick O'Neill was an American counter-terrorism expert, who worked as a special agent and eventually a Special Agent in Charge in the Federal Bureau of Investigation until late 2001...

 was a counter-terrorism expert and the Assistant Director of the FBI until late 2001. He retired from the FBI and was offered the position of director of security at the World Trade Center (WTC). He took the job at the WTC two weeks before 9/11. On September 10, 2001, John O’Neill told two of his friends,
"We're due. And we're due for something big. ... Some things have happened in Afghanistan [referring to the assassination of Massoud]. I don’t like the way things are lining up in Afghanistan. ... I sense a shift, and I think things are going to happen. ... soon."

John O'Neill died on September 11, 2001, when the south tower collapsed.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, United Front troops ousted the Taliban from power in Kabul with American air support in Operation Enduring Freedom, using intelligence reports offered by Iran during the Six plus Two Group
Six plus Two Group on Afghanistan
The Six plus Two Group on Afghanistan describes an informal coalition of the six nations bordering with Afghanistan , plus the United States and Russia, which functioned from 1999 to 2001 under the aegis of the United Nations...

 meetings at the United Nations Headquarters. In November and December 2001 the United Front gained control of much of the country and played a crucial role in establishing the post-Taliban interim government of Hamid Karzai in late 2001.

Human rights (1997–2001)


The human rights situation during combat was heavily dependent on the specific commander and his troops. The situation for different leaders and their troops of the United Front thus shows sharp contrasts. Also, the quality of life of the Afghan population was heavily dependent on the specific leader that was directly controlling the area in which they lived. Sharp contrasts could also be witnessed regarding life and structures in those areas.

Area of Massoud


Massoud directly controlled the Panjshir, some other parts of Parwan and Thakar province. Some parts of Badakshan were under his influence while others were controlled by Burhanuddin Rabbani with whom Massoud had some non-violent disputes. (Badakshan is the home region of Rabbani.)

Human Rights Watch cites no human rights crimes or abuses for Massoud's troops in the period from October 1996 until the assassination of Massoud in September 2001. Massoud created democratic institutions which were structured into several committees: political, health, education and economic. In the area of Massoud women and girls did not have to wear the Afghan burqa. They were allowed to work and to go to school. In at least two known instances Massoud personally intervened against cases of forced marriage. While it was Massoud's stated conviction that men and women are equal and should enjoy the same rights, he also had to deal with Afghan traditions which he said would need a generation or more to overcome. In his opinion that could only be achieved through education.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the Taliban to the areas of Massoud. There was a huge humanitarian problem because there was not enough to eat for both the existing population and the refugees. In 2001 Massoud and a French journalist described the bitter situation of the refugees and asked for humanitarian help. see video

Area of Dostum


Until the defeat of Dostum by the Taliban in 1998 he controlled the following provinces: Samangan, Balkh, Jowzjan, Faryab, and Baghlan provinces. According to Human Rights Watch many of the violations of international humanitarian law committed by the United Front forces date from 1996-1998 when Dostum controlled most of the north.

According to Human Rights Watch in 1997 some 3,000 captured Taliban soldiers were summarily executed in and around Mazar-i Sharif by Dostum's Junbish forces under the command of Gen. Abdul Malik Pahlawan. The killings followed Malik's withdrawal from a brief alliance with the Taliban and the capture of the Taliban forces who were trapped in the city. With the U.S. War on Terror, troops loyal to Dostum also returned to combat. In December 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 between 250 and 3,000 (depending on sources) Taliban prisoners were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal truck containers, while being transferred by U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and United Front
United front
The united front is a form of struggle that may be pursued by revolutionaries. The basic theory of the united front tactic was first developed by the Comintern, an international communist organisation created by revolutionaries in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.According to the theses of...

 (troops loyal to Dostum) soldiers from Kunduz
Kunduz
Kunduz also known as Kundûz, Qonduz, Qondûz, Konduz, Kondûz, Kondoz, or Qhunduz is a city in northern Afghanistan, the capital of Kunduz Province. It is linked by highways with Mazari Sharif to the west, Kabul to the south and Tajikistan's border to the north...

 to Sheberghan
Sheberghan
Sheberghān or Shaburghān , also spelled Shebirghan and Shibarghan, is the capital city of the Jowzjan Province in northern Afghanistan.-Location:...

 prison through the Dasht-i-Leili desert in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. This became known as the so-called Dasht-i-Leili massacre In 2009 Dostum denied the accusations.

Dostum belonged to those commanders making their own, often draconian, laws. Human Rights Watch has released documents alleging widespread crimes targeted against the civilian population. Human Rights Watch asked to actively discourage and refuse support in any way to any group or coalition that includes commanders with a record of serious violations of international humanitarian law standards, specifically naming Abdul Rashid Dostum; Haji Muhammad Muhaqqiq, a senior commander of the Hezb-i Wahdat; Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, leader of the erstwhile Ittihad-i Islami; and Abdul Malik Pahlawan, a former senior Junbish commander.

Legacy


The United Front, from 1996 to 2001, blocked the Taliban, Pakistan and Al Qaeda from gaining total control over all of Afghanistan. Many refugees found shelter in areas controlled by Ahmad Shah Massoud.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, on U.S. soil (which killed 3000 people) ground troops of the United Front ousted the Taliban from power in Kabul. In November and December 2001 the United Front gained control of much of the country. This was facilitated by extensive bombing of Taliban forces and military infrastructure by the United States during the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. Had it not been for the United Front the U.S. would have needed to deploy hundreds of thousands of ground troops to Afghanistan already in October 2001.

The United Front was extremely influential in the transitional Afghan Government of Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 from 2001 until 2004. Notably, Mohammed Qasim Fahim became the Vice President and Minister of Defense, Yunus Qanuni
Yunus Qanuni
Yunus Qanuni is a politician in Afghanistan. An ethnic Tajik from the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, Qanuni is the leader of the Afghanistan e Naween political party and former Speaker of the House of the People .-Pre Election...

 became the Minister of Education and Security Advisor and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

 became the Foreign Minister. Most foreign observers expected this dominance to continue and for Fahim or Qanuni to be selected as Karzai's Vice President in the 2004 elections. However, Karzai instead selected Ahmad Zia Massoud
Ahmad Zia Massoud
Ahmad Zia Massoud was the First Vice President of Afghanistan in the first elected administration of President Hamid Karzai, from December 2004 to November 2009...

, younger brother of the former United Front leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Karzai easily won the 2004 Presidential election with 55.4% of the vote, followed by three former leaders of the UIF, Quanuni (16.3%), Mohaqiq (11.7%) and Dostum (10%).

Some of the military strength of the UIF has now been absorbed into the Military of Afghanistan
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

, while many of the remaining soldiers were disarmed through a nationwide disarmament
Disarmament
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms...

 program. The existence and strength of the Afghan National Army
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 has significantly reduced the threat of the former UIF elements attempting to use military action against the new NATO-backed government. Most of the country's senior military personnel are former members of the UIF, including Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and General Bismillah Khan
Bismillah Khan (Afghanistan)
Bismillah Khan Mohammadi , often known simply as Bismillah Khan, is the Interior Minister of Afghanistan. Among his duties, he is responsible for the securement of the international borders of Afghanistan, as well as maintaining law and order within the country by the Afghan National Police...

.

Some members of the alliance are now part of the United National Front (Afghanistan)
United National Front (Afghanistan)
The Afghanistan National Front is a coalition of various political parties in Afghanistan.The group is as a broad coalition of former and current strongmen, commanders from the anti-Soviet resistance, ex-Communist leaders, and various social and ethnic groups....

 which is led by Rabbani and includes some former leaders of the UIF such as Parliamentary Speaker Yunus Qanuni, Mohammed Fahim, and Abdul Rashid Dostum. The United National Front has positioned itself as a "loyal" opposition to Karzai. Others like Abdul Sayyaf claim to be loyal to Hamid Karzai while, however, following their own agenda. Sayyaf has strong ties to the Saudi establishment and wants to create a strong Wahhabi influence on Afghanistan.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah
Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

, a doctor of medicine
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 and one of Ahmad Shah Massoud's closest friends (who is said to have been close to him politically also), ran as an independent candidate in the 2009 Afghan presidential election
Afghan presidential election, 2009
The 2009 presidential election in Afghanistan was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud....

 and came in second place. On November 1, 2009, Abdullah, however, quit the runoff election because of widespread allegations of election fraud against Hamid Karzai. His followers wanted to take to the streets but Abdullah held them back in order not to endanger the fragile stability of the government. Massoud Khalili
Massoud Khalili
Masood Khalili, also Massoud Khalili and Masud Khalili is a diplomat, linguist and urbane poet. He was an adviser and close friend of legendary Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Khalili is the current Afghan Ambassador to Spain. He has previously been the ambassador to Turkey and India. He speaks...

, another of Ahmad Shah Massoud's close friends, became ambassador to India and subsequently to Turkey, while the younger brother of Massoud, Ahmad Wali Massoud, serves as ambassador to the United Kingdom. Massoud's ex-commander Bismillah Khan was army chief of staff for a long time rebuilding the Afghan armed forces until he was shifted to the position of interior minister in 2010 by Karzai. One of Massoud's close intelligence agents, Amrullah Saleh
Amrullah Saleh
Amrullah Saleh is an Afghan politician who last served as the head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security...

, became director of the Afghan National Directorate of Security in 2004 but had to resign in 2010 because of disagreements with Hamid Karzai over how to proceed against the Taliban and Pakistani support to the Taliban.

See also

  • Ahmad Shah Massoud
  • War in Afghanistan (1996-2001)
  • War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
    War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
    The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

  • Amrullah Saleh
    Amrullah Saleh
    Amrullah Saleh is an Afghan politician who last served as the head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security...

  • Abdullah Abdullah
    Abdullah Abdullah
    Abdullah Abdullah is an Afghan politician and a doctor of medicine. He was an adviser and friend to Ahmad Shah Massoud, legendary anti-Taliban leader and commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir". After the fall of the Taliban regime, Dr. Abdullah served as Afghanistan's Foreign Minister from 2001...

  • Haron Amin
    Haron Amin
    Haron Amin was the Afghan ambassador to Japan and non-resident ambassador to Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore from 2004 to 2009. He is chiefly known, however, for his role as spokesman for the Northern Alliance during the U.S.-led invasion of his country after the events of September 11, 2001...


External links


Starving to Death Afghanistan (documentary report March 1995) by Journeyman Pictures/ABC Australia
Massoud's Last Stand - Afghanistan (documentary report 1997) by Journeyman Pictures/ABC Australia
Inside the Taliban (documentary film 2007) by the National Geographic

Other: