"I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban," Ahmad Massoud wrote in The Washington Post on 18 August, three days after the militant organisation Taliban seized the reigns of Afghanistan.
Touted as the lone guard of the Panjshir Valley – the last outpost of Afghanistan that remains free from the Taliban – Ahmad Massoud is keeping alive the resistance against the insurgents.
At the hilly region that has become the bastion of anti-Taliban agitation, Massoud is marshalling a revolutionary movement – National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan – against the militants.
Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the 'Lion of Panjshir,' considers it his legacy to fight the Taliban.
Son of 'Lion of Panjshir': Massoud's Beginnings
Born into the Tajik community at Panjshir in 1989, Massoud is the son and namesake of the legendary Taliban rival and mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Ahmad Shah Massoud had fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and had later spearheaded the Northern Alliance against the Taliban till he was assassinated by the militants in 2001.
"I am the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud; surrender is not part of my vocabulary," Massoud told French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy on the phone on 21 August, almost a week of the Taliban takeover.
Massoud, who received his secondary school education in Iran, later completed a year of military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom. He also holds a bachelor's degree in War Studies from King's College London, and a master's degree in International Politics from the University of London.
After completing his education in 2015, Massoud returned to Afghanistan in 2016 and assumed the position of chief executive officer of Massoud Foundation, which is dedicated to the memory of his father.
Reviving the Northern Alliance: Massoud's National Resistance Front
For the first time since 2001, the flag of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance was hoisted in the Panjshir Valley on 17 August, two days after the Taliban's onslaught on Kabul. Videos that surfaced on social media had depicted a procession of vehicles bearing the flag of the resistance movement.
Sharing a video of the procession on Twitter, Ali Maisam Nazary, an official of the NRF, confirmed the birth of the revolutionary movement, also known as the Panjshir Resistance or Second Resistance, by Ahmad Massoud.
"We confronted the Soviet Union, and we will be able to confront the Taliban," Massoud told Dubai-based channel Al Arabiya on Sunday, 22 August.
Amrullah Saleh, the vice president of the previous Afghan government, who had declared himself as the 'caretaker president' on 17 August following the rise of the Taliban, has joined hands with Ahmad Massoud to lead the NRF, international media reports indicated.
'Will Defend Panjshir As the Last Bastion of Afghan Freedom': Massoud
"No matter what happens, my mujahideen fighters and I will defend Panjshir as the last bastion of Afghan freedom. Our morale is intact. We know from experience what awaits us," Massoud stated in an op-ed that was published in The Washington Post on 18 August.
"If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will of course face staunch resistance from us. The flag of the National Resistance Front will fly over every position that they attempt to take, as the National United Front flag flew 20 years ago."Ahmad Massoud in The Washington Post
Asserting that he did not want a war to break out, Massoud, in an interview with Reuters, indicated that he was open to dialogue with the Taliban, stating that "the only way forward is through negotiation." He further noted that the NRF would oppose any form of a "totalitarian regime".
Stating that several citizens and soldiers of the Afghan forces had joined the NRF, Massoud observed that their effort alone would not be sufficient to defeat the Taliban, and implored the international governments to lend their support to the cause.
"The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again," he wrote in The Washington Post.
(With inputs from Reuters and The Washington Post.)