Who is Ahmad Masoud, the Afghan resistance fighter confronting the Taliban?

AHMAD MASOUD has spent years stockpiling weapons; he had a feeling this day might come. Mr Masoud leads a group of armed rebels from Panjshir, a tiny mountainous province 70km (45 miles) north of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, that has never succumbed to invaders.

It is, for now, the only part of the country not under Taliban control But the jihadists are on their way. If they come without weapons, he says, they may enter to negotiate peace. But if they arrive with guns they will meet resistance. Reports in recent days of fighting suggest their choice is made.

Mr Masoud bears a striking resemblance to his father, Ahmad Shah Masoud, who is revered in Afghanistan as a revolutionary hero. The elder Masoud was a Francophile who was educated in the lycée in Kabul.

He later became famous as an ethnic Tajik mujahideen commander who fought the Soviets in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s. In April 2001 he travelled to Strasbourg to warn the European Parliament that Osama bin Laden might use Afghanistan as a base for terror. Then, two days before the 9/11 attacks, he was bombed by al Qaeda and died of his wounds a short while afterwards. The killing was said to have been a gift from bin Laden

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