Slain Former Afghan President Led Peace Efforts

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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As head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, former President Burhannudin Rabbani was tasked with leading efforts to find a political solution to the ten-year war with the Taliban.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai appointed the council in October of 2010. The 68-member body made up of tribal elders, religious leaders, and politicians was set up to facilitate contacts with insurgents willing to lay down their arms and join the government.

Born in 1940 in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan, Mr. Rabbani studied in Kabul and then at Cairo's Al-Azhar University.

In 1971, he took over the leadership of an Islamist party, Jamiat-e-Isami, which later formed one of the mujahedeen groups that fought Soviet forces following the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Mr. Rabbani became president of a shaky mujahedeen coalition government in 1992 after the collapse of the country's Soviet-backed communist government.

The struggle for power among mujahedeen groups sparked a civil war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Mr. Rabbani's presidency ended in 1996, with the rise of the Taliban.

An ethnic Tajik, he then became the nominal head of the Northern Alliance, which joined with international forces in ousting the Taliban from power in 2001.

Mr. Rabbani was killed Tuesday in a suicide attack at his home in the Afghan capital.

Northern Alliance military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, was killed by al-Qaida suicide bombers posing as journalists on September 9, 2001, just two days before the September 11 attacks on the United States.