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Burhanuddin Rabbani
برهان‌ الدین رباني
Rabbani in December 2010.
10th President of Afghanistan

In office
28 June 1992 – 22 December 2001
Prime Minister Abdul Sabur Farid Kohistani
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Arsala Rahmani (Acting)
Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai (Acting)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Abdul Rahim Ghafoorzai
Preceded by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi (Acting)
Succeeded by Hamid Karzai
Head of the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan

In office
27 September 1996 – 13 November 2001
Preceded by Faction established
Succeeded by Faction dissolved
Personal details
Born (1940-09-20)September 20, 1940
Badakhshan, Kingdom of Afghanistan
Died 20 September 2011(2011-09-20) (aged 71)
Kabul, Afghanistan
Political party Jamiat-e Islami
Children Fatima Rabbani, Salahuddin Rabbani
Alma mater Kabul University
Al-Azhar University
Religion Sunni Islam

Burhānuddīn Rabbānī (Persian/Pashto: برهان‌ الدین رباني; b. 20 September 1940, d. 20 September 2011) was an Afghan politician who served as President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 (de jure until 2001). After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was chosen at the Bonn International Conference on Afghanistan.[1] Rabbani was also the leader of Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan (Islamic Society of Afghanistan).

He was one of the earliest founders and movement leaders of the Mujahideen in the early 1970s, right before the Soviet–Afghan War. He served as the political head of the Northern Alliance (or United Front), an alliance of various political groups who fought against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. His government was recognized by many countries, as well as the United Nations. He later became head of Afghanistan National Front (known in the media as United National Front), the largest political opposition to Hamid Karzai's government. On 20 September 2011, Rabbani was assassinated by a suicide bomber entering his home in Kabul. As suggested by the Afghan parliament, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai gave him the title of "Martyr of Peace".[2] His son Salahuddin Rabbani was chosen in April 2012 to lead efforts to forge peace in Afghanistan with the Taliban.[3]

Early years

Rabbani, son of Muhammed Yousuf, was born in the northern province of Badakhshan. He was a Persian-speaking ethnic Tajik.[4] After finishing school in his native province, he went to Darul-uloom-e-Sharia (Abu-Hanifa), a religious school in Kabul. When he graduated from Abu-Hanifa, he attended Kabul University to study Islamic Law and Theology, graduating in 1963.[4]

Soon after his graduation in 1963, he was hired as a professor at Kabul University.[4] In order to enhance himself, Rabbani went to Egypt in 1966, and he entered the Al-Azhar University in Cairo where he developed close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.[5] In two years, he received his masters degree in Islamic Philosophy. Rabbani was one of the first Afghans to translate the works of Sayyid Qutb into Persian.[5] Later he returned to Egypt to complete his PhD in Islamic philosophy and his thesis was titled "The Philosophy and Teachings of Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Jami." In 2004 he received Afghanistan's highest academic and scientific title "Academician" from the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan.

Political career

Rabbani returned to Afghanistan in 1968, where the High Council of Jamiat-e Islami gave him the duty of organizing the University students. Due to his knowledge, reputation, and active support for the cause of Islam, in 1972, a 15-member council selected him as head of Jamiat-e Islami of Afghanistan; the founder of Jamiat-e Islami of Afghanistan, Ghulam M. Niyazi was also present. Jamiat-e Islami was primarily composed of Tajiks.[6]

In the spring of 1974, the police came to Kabul University to arrest Rabbani for his pro-Islamic stance, but with the help of his students the police were unable to capture him, and he managed to escape to the countryside. In Pakistan, Rabbani gathered important people and established the party. Sayed Noorullah Emad, who was then a young Muslim in the University of Kabul, became the General Secretary of the party and, later, its deputy chief.

When the Soviets intervened in 1979, Rabbani helped lead Jamiat-e Islami in resistance to the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan regime. Rabbani's forces were the first Mujahideen elements to enter Kabul in 1992 when the PDPA government fell from power.[citation needed] He took over as President from 1992 in accordance to the Peshawar Accords. Rabbani was the second ever ethnic Tajik leader of Afghanistan after Habibullah Kalakani in 1929 (and possibly including Babrak Karmal, whose ethnicity was disputed). He ruled until the Taliban's conquest of Kabul in 1996. For the next five years, he and the Northern Alliance were busy fighting the Taliban until the 2001 US-led Operation Enduring Freedom in which the Taliban government was toppled. Rabbani was head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which had been formed in 2010 to initiate peace talks with the Taliban and other groups in the insurgency, until his death.[7]


Rabbani was killed in a suicide bombing at his home in Kabul on 20 September 2011, his 71st birthday. Two men posing as Taliban representatives approached him to offer a hug and detonated their explosives. At least one of them had hidden the explosives in his turban.[8][9] The suicide bomber claimed to be a Taliban commander and said he wanted to "discuss peace" with Rabbani.[10] Four other members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council were also killed in the blast.[7]

Afghan officials blamed the Quetta Shura, which is the leadership of the Afghan Taliban hiding in the affluent Satellite Town of Quetta in Pakistan.[11] The Pakistani government confirmed that Rabbani's assassination was linked to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. A senior Pakistani official stated that over 90% of terrorist attacks in Pakistan are traced back to Afghan elements and that their presence in the country was "an important issue for Pakistan" and "a problem for Afghanistan". Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that "We are not responsible if Afghan refugees crossed the border and entered Kabul, stayed in a guest house and attacked Professor Rabbani".[12]

In 2011, just days before he died, Rabbani was trying to persuade Islamic scholars to issue a religious edict banning suicide bombings. The former president's 29-year-old daughter said in an interview that her father died shortly after he spoke at a conference on "Islamic Awakening" in Tehran. "Right before he was assassinated, he talked about the suicide bombing issue," Fatima Rabbani told Reuters. "He called on all Islamic scholars in the conference to release a fatwa" against the tactic.[13]

United States President Barack Obama and several NATO military leaders condemned the assassination.[14] Japan also offered its condolences at the Sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly.[15] Afghan President Hamid Karzai cut short his trip for the General debate of the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly following his assassination. Rabbani's son Salahuddin then took over chairmanship of the High Peace Council from his father.[16]

See also


  1. "Rabbani's Afghan comeback". BBC News. 14 November 2001. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  2. Afghan Peace Council Chief Killed in Attack on His Home. New York Times. September 21, 2011.
  3. Karzai appoints slain leader's son April 14, 2012 McClatchy
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 David B. Edwards (2 April 2002). Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-520-22861-0. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Burke, Jason (2004). Al-Qaeda: The True Story Of Radical Islam. I.B. Tauris. pp. 66–67. 
  6. Rogers, Tom (1992). The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Analysis and Chronology. Greenwood Press. p. 27. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Former Afghanistan president Burhanuddin Rabbani killed in Kabul blast". 20 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  8. "Afghan president assassinated". Al Jazeera English. 20 September 2011. 
  9. "Turban bomb kills key Afghan political leader". CNN. 20 September 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  10. "Ex-Afghan Leader's Assassin Waited Days to See Him". Fox News. 21 September 2011. 
  11. Kabul, Islamabad spar over Rabbani murder probe[dead link]
  12. "Pakistan blames Afghan refugees for Rabbani's murder". Express Tribune. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011. 
  13. Habboush, Mahmoud (18 October 2011). "Afghanistan's Rabbani sought suicide ban: daughter". Reuters. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  14. "News Article: Obama, Karzai Vow Undeterred Effort in Afghanistan". Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  15. "UN General Assembly General Debate of the 66th Session - Japan". 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  16. "Afghanistan" (in en). 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
President of Afghanistan
Succeeded by
Hamid Karzai

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