Ahmed Shah Massoud
[Home] [Afghanistan] [Ahmed Shah Massoud]

The story...

The ISI, and perhaps the US, were implicated in the 9/9 assassination of Aghanistan's Northern Alliance chief Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Our take...

David Ray Griffin's New Pearl Harbor is unequivocal about the ISI's involvement:

On September 9, the leader of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Masood, was the victim of an assassination, which the Northern Alliance declared to be the work of the ISI.
David Ray Griffin, Chapter 8
The New Pearl Harbor

Even authors like Michel Chossudovsky point out that this isn't quite so clear-cut,

...the Northern Alliance had informed the Bush administration through an official communiqué that Pakistan's ISI was allegedly implicated in the assassination:

"A Pakistani ISI-Osama-Taliban axis [was responsible for] plotting the assassination by two Arab suicide bombers.. 'We believe that this is a triangle between Osama bin Laden, ISI, which is the intelligence section of the Pakistani army, and the Taliban'" (The Northern Alliance's statement was released on 14 September 2001, quoted in Reuters, 15 September 2001)

"Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Abdullah Abdullah told AFP the assassination bid was plotted by the ruling Taliban militia, bin Laden and their allies in Pakistan's intelligence agency.

'This was a premeditated plan. They have tried it several times in the past as well but all of them have been thwarted,' he said.

'Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), the Taliban and Osama bin Laden appear to be behind this plot.'" (AFP, 10 September 2001)

Here the Northern Alliance say the ISI, Taliban and bin Laden were involved. Based on what evidence? They don't say here, although a later press release is a little more forthcoming.

BEIJING: A spokesman for an anti-Taliban opposition alliance on Wednesday blamed a "triangle" of interests operating from Afghanistan for the catastrophic terror attacks on the United States.

Abdul Basir Hotak, who represents Afghanistan's UN-recognised government in Beijing, named the three elements as exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, Pakistan's military intelligence and the Taliban, who are sheltering bin Laden.

"We are surprised very much that until now the international community do not understand what is the original face of the international terrorism," Hotak told Reuters.

"They are talking only about Osama bin Laden," said Hotak, in reference to speculation about who might be responsible for Tuesday's suicide attacks with hijacked airliners on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington.

"Without cooperation and without coordination from other sides it is impossible for him to do anything," he said, adding: "We believe that this is a triangle between Osama bin Laden, ISI, which is the intelligence section of the Pakistani army, and the Taliban."

Hotak called on the international community to adopt a new strategy directed at "the triangle, not Osama bin Laden", to root out terror.

The United States accuses bin Laden, who is sheltered by Afghanistan's Taliban from U.S. justice, of other major terror attacks.

The Taliban have made a point of saying bin Laden had nothing to do with the latest attacks, which President George W. Bush said killed thousands of people.

"The existence of this triangle is something very, very dangerous for the security and stability in the region and all over the world," Hotak said.


The Taliban control some 95 percent of Afghanistan, but are recognised as the legal government by only three countries -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Hotak accused the Pakistani government of providing military and technical life-support to the hardline Islamic movement and acting as their "key organisers".

"The international community should not forget it and should not ignore it," he said.

The opposition alliance's military commander, Ahmad Shah Masood, made similar accusations in a television interview recorded with private Indian production company AIM Television in August.

"It is mainly Pakistan. I am sure if Pakistan is restrained, Osama bin Laden cannot bring money and a single Arab inside Afghanistan," Masood said, according to a transcript of the interview published on Wednesday in India's The Hindu newspaper.
Masood, the target of a suicide bomb attack inside Afghanistan on Sunday, said that the world had not fully understood the potential threat from the Taliban, both in drug trafficking and terrorism.

"The threat of Taliban in creating instability in the region and in the world has not been well comprehended the way it should have been," he said. "They have created instability in regions and can create problems for the world through Osama bin Laden."


Hotak accused the same alleged "triangle" of masterminding the assassination attempt on Masood.

The guerrilla commander -- reported killed in the blast by several news sources -- was in "stable" condition and recovering in a hospital, according to Hotak.

He said the Arab suicide bombers, who posed as journalists, had travelled from London with one-year Pakistani visas.

"How is it possible to give a one-year visa to a person going for a visit?" he asked.

"We don't believe it.

Hotak, whose government could benefit if the United States retaliated against bin Laden bases in Afghanistan, said military actions against his homeland would be justified in concerted action against the Taliban.

"I think military aspects should be included in the new understanding and the new strategy," he added.

But he urged Washington not to move alone in launching direct attacks on bin Laden's bases in Afghanistan, as it did after bomb attacks which killed 224 people at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

"Later it was proved that was a mistake because it was launched in an incorrect way," said Hotak. "They should decide together with our government and our people and our country should be included in the strategy. It is very essential."
Source (Google Groups)

Note that this piece also uses the "triangle" phrase to apportion blame for the 9/11 attacks. It's hard to believe the Northern Alliance actually know all three parties were directly involved: they're simply saying these groups are all tied together, and you can't deal with one in isolation.

The only evidence offered here to implicate the ISI is the question of visas. This isn't particularly compelling, especially as other articles talk about the number of fake documents used by the assassins, perhaps including the Pakistan visas:

In addition to putting together the passports in London, document specialists also are suspected of assisting with the killers' Pakistani visas. They had one-year multiple entry visas, which are not usually granted to journalists or Arabs. Authorities have not yet said whether the visas were authentic, but one law enforcement official said they were fraudulent.

In any event, it's worth keeping in mind that these were immediate reactions, responses that came within days of Ahmad Shah Massoud being killed. And even now, years later, sites and books relating this to 9/11 still tell you little more. Which is odd, because by November 2001 there were arrests in both France and Belgium as police closed in on the conspirators, and by December the accused were being linked to al-Qaeda:

As members of the Northern Alliance make plans to join in a new ruling coalition for
post-Taliban Afghanistan, a fog of mystery has remained over the murder of their onetime leader. But as first reported on TIME.com French police have learned the identity of one of the two assassins of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the former commander of the Northern Alliance, who was slain by two suicide bombers posing as journalists on Sept. 9. The alleged killer is Abedessatar Dahman, a Tunisian who immigrated to Belgium and became part of a radical Islamic group with links to al-Qaeda.

Years later, in May 2005, a French trial secured four convictions:

Masood murder plotters convicted 
A court in Paris has found four men guilty of offering logistical support to the killers of Afghan resistance leader Ahmed Shah Masood. The four Islamic militants, who faced up to 10 years in jail, were sentenced to between two and seven years.

Another man was convicted of separate offences, while two were acquitted.

Mr Masood, a leading anti-Taleban fighter, was blown up in 2001, two days before the 9/11 terror attacks, by two Tunisian men posing as journalists.

Those convicted, all of north African origin, were seized by French police who traced passports found on Mr Masood's killers to a Brussels-based militant cell run by Tarek Maaroufi.

Maaroufi was sentenced to six years in prison by a court in Brussels in 2003.

Money changer

Mr Masood was a leading general in Afghanistan's anti-Taleban Northern Alliance.

The death of the man revered as the "Lion of the Panjshir Valley" stunned the country's then rebel forces, who were soon called to fight alongside US troops in a campaign against the Taleban in late 2001.

In Paris on Tuesday Adel Tebourski, 41, was handed a six-year sentence after admitting he was a member of an Islamist cell linked to one of the Tunisian killers.

He was accused of changing 30,000 French francs (4,500 euros) into almost $6,000 for Dahmane Abd al-Sattar before he set out on his suicide mission in May 2000.

Frenchman Yousef el-Aouni, 31, received a two-year sentence, while Abderahmane Ameroud, a 27-year-old Algerian, was handed the longest sentence, of seven years.

Another man, 37-year-old Mehrez Azouz, was imprisoned for five years.

A fifth suspect, Khellaf Hammam, 37, was convicted of helping organise paramilitary training for French-based Islamic militants, and was imprisoned for two years.

Two others, Ibrahim Ketta, 38, and Azdine Sayeh, 32, were acquitted.

Searching for information on the conspirators reveals little on connections to the ISI, but considerably more with regard to al Qaeda. In fact various reports left little doubt that al Qaeda had sponsored the attacks:

On 9 September 2001, two days before the attacks by al-Qa’eda terrorists on the WTC-towers in New York and the Pentagon, Ahmad Shah Massoud was murdered by a Belgian suicide bomber. General Massoud was the charismatic leader of the Northern Alliance, the main Afghan resistance group against the Taliban rulers in Kabul. The murderers intended his death as “a gift” to Osama bin Laden, head of al-Qa’eda and the most prominent protégé of the Taliban regime.

The murder had been organised by Tarek ben Habib Maaroufi. Until 1991, Maaroufi, a naturalised Belgian born in Tunisia in 1965, worked for el-Watan, an Arab radio station in Brussels. The station catered for the many North African muslim immigrants that had settled in Belgium from the late 1960s onwards. Most of these immigrants were of Moroccan origin, but there were also Tunisians and Algerians. In the early 1990s, Tarek Maaroufi became the Brussels contact of the major North African terrorist groups. By 2000, he had become one of the most prominent al-Qa’eda agents in Europe.
[Much more detail in this article, well worth a read]
The Flemish Republic

The Tunisian organization trained at an Al Qaeda camp complex called Darunta in Afghanistan, according to law enforcement officials. It is believed that as Bin Laden
plotted the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided to eliminate Masoud in a preemptive strike because the guerrilla hero was a natural leader for any U.S.-backed retaliation.

A working theory among European investigators is that Bin Laden turned to the Tunisians in an exchange of services.

But was this just the authorities trying to cover things up? It's hard to imagine the French or Belgians going too far in that direction, and there's some confirmation of al Qaeda involvement from other directions. Malika Malik, the wife of one of the assassins (both of whom died in the attack), published a book called The Soldiers of Light, where she reports indirect contact with bin Ladin:

The brother [who came to drop off the audiotape] handed an envelope to me and said "This is Osama bin Laden that is sending this to you and here is $500 that he is giving you to reimburse the debt of your husband. I thanked him, but I did not understand why I had received an envelope from Osama bin Ladin".
Soldiers of Light
as excerpted in The Osama bin Ladin I Know (page 297)
Peter Bergen

Presumably she discovered this later, expanding on the story in an interview where she reports being told of her husband's meeting with bin Laden:

My husband never spoke to me about his meeting with Osama. I know only what people told me afterwards. They told me that he had met Osama. And that he gave him allegiance, that he put himself under bin Laden's orders.
The Osama bin Ladin I Know (page 297)
Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen tracked down a couple of other accounts that suggest al Qaeda were responsible for the Massoud assassination:

Youssef al Aayiri took control of al Qaeda's operations in the Gul region in late 2002. He was on the Saudi government's most-wanted list and was killed in Riyadh in May 2003. Voice of Jihad, an al Qaeda magazine in Saudi Arabia, printed his biography. This excerpt deals with al Qaeda's role in and reaction to Massoud's assassination:

Afterwards, the greatest event in Afghan history occurred-- the assassination of the despicable commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud, and there was no describing Sheikh al Aayyiri's joy. I remember asking him, "What happened?" And he replied by saying that Sheikh Osama asked the brothers: "Who will take it upon himself to deal with Ahmed [Shah] Massoud for me, because he harmed Allah and His sons? A few brothers volunteered to assassinate Massoud and be rewarded by Allah, and you heard the good news.

Feroz Ali Abbasi is the Ugandan Briton who was captured in Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. An excerpt of his prison memoir follows:

The significant event was the death of Massoud. We got wind from the brothers then listened to the radio. Massoud had been taken out by a martrydowm operation -- the Arab mujahideen were responsible. I thought that at last the Taliban were going to take the whole of Afghanistan. Massoud was crucial to the Northern Alliance. He was a highly skilled general.
The Osama bin Ladin I Know (page 298/299)
Peter Bergen

Of course none of this can ever prove that the ISI weren't involved, in some way. But currently there's no real evidence for it, and none whatsoever of American involvement, while by comparison the pointers to al Qaeda seem overwhelming. Which means it's hard to see the relevance of this story to any kind of "inside job" 9/11 theories, without considerably more research being done to back it up.

[Home] [Hijackers] [Foreknowledge] [Stand down] [WTC (demolition)] [WTC (other)] [WTC7 and Silverstein] [Pentagon] [Flight 93] [bin Ladin] [Obstructing Justice] [Afghanistan] [Others] [Investigations, more] [What's New?]