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Name of leader         Burhnuddin Rabbani


Organization                   Jamiat-i-Islami

Org. translation              Islamic Society


Conflict country             Afghanistan


Gender                             Male   


Year of birth                    1940 [1]


Place of birth                  Faizabad, Badakhshan, Afghanistan [2]


Year of death                  2011 [3]





Yes; he was assassinated in 2011.


Birth order


His birth order is unknown.


Age at start of rebel leadership


He became leader in 1968, so age 28.[4]


Leader entry method


He was appointed leader in 1972 formally, but most sources seem to indicate that he had been designated as leader in 1968.[5]




No, there is no evidence of powersharing.


Education (also name universities attended, if any); note any relevant experiences while a student


Rabbani “attended a religious school in Kabul. He then studied Islamic law and theology at Kabul University and Islamic philosophy at Cairo’s al-Azhar University, from which he obtained a master’s degree (1968).” [6]     


Ever married? If yes, age of first marriage


Yes, but the age he married is unknown.[7]




Yes, he had four children.[8]


Religious identification


He practiced Islam.[9]


Elite family background


Yes, his father was Mohammed Yousuf, a former Prime Minister of Afghanistan.[10]


Political affiliations and intellectual circles; note any relevant social connections made


No, there is no evidence of political affiliations.


Physical and mental health


No, there is no evidence of poor physical or mental health.


Pre-militant leader occupation


He was a professor at the University of Kabul.[11]


Experience in a state military, and role; any relevant social ties


No, there is no evidence of state military experience.


Experience in a nonstate military, and role; any relevant social ties


Yes, there is experience in a nonstate military since a campaign in the dataset has already been led by Rabbani.


Combat experience prior to assuming resistance organization leadership?


No, there is no evidence of combat experience.


Held government position prior to assuming leadership?


No, there is no evidence he held a government position.


Lived in exile?


Yes, in 1974 after overthrowing the king in 1973 Rabbani fled to Pakistan.[12] Additionally in 1996 he was driven into exile with the rise of the Taliban.[13] (Technically the 1996 exile is not exile by our definition because he fled into a corner of Afghanistan.)[14]


Study abroad?


Yes, he studied Islamic philosophy at al-Azhar University in Cairo.[15]


Did the leader receive military training abroad?


No, there is no evidence of military training abroad.


Did the leader have extensive work experience abroad?


No, there is no evidence he had extensive work experience abroad.


Serve time in prison? Social connections during that time?


No, there is no evidence he served time in prison.


Was there an assassination attempt on the leader by the state?


No, there is no evidence of a failed assassination attempt by the state.


Cause of Death?


“He was assassinated by a suicide bomber claiming to be a Taliban emissary”[16]


Primary language, and other languages spoken as adult


He spoke Persian as his primary language[17], Dari, and Pashto.





Image Credit:

[1] Olivier Roy and Antoine Sfeir, The Columbia World Dictionary Of Islamism (Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2007), 25.

[2] Ibid.

[3]Melinda C. Shepherd, "Burhanuddin Rabbani," Encyclopædia Britannica, January 1, 2015, Accessed February 15, 2017,

[4] "Burhanuddin Rabbani,", Accessed February 15, 2017,

[5] Ibid.

[6] See f.n.3

[7] See f.n.4

[8] Ibid.

[9] See f.n.1

[10] “Burhanuddin Rabbani,” Afghanistan Online, 1996, Accessed March 20, 2017,

[11] Ibid.

[12] See f.n.1

[13] See f.n.3

[14] “Burhanuddin Rabbani: shifting fortunes matched his complex nation,” The Telegraph, September 20, 2011, Accessed October 15, 2018,

[15] See f.n.3

[16] Ibid.

[17] David B. Edwards, Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad ( Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002), 235.

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