On this date in 1996, the man who once ruled ruled Afghanistan under the aegis of a superpower succumbed to the tender mercies of his country’s fundamentalist insurgency.
Mohammad Najibullah was the last president of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Unfortunately for Najibullah, he was on the job when Moscow decided to throw in the towel on the Soviet-Afghan War.
After losing the subsequent civil war, the former President was trapped for a nervous few years in Kabul — blocked from joining his family in flight to India by the offices of former Soviet client and present-day American client Abdul Rashid Dostum.
At the instigation of future Taliban second-in-command Mohammad Rabbani, Najibullah and his brother were hauled out of the U.N. compound where they had taken refuge, publicly beaten, tortured and castrated, and strung up on a traffic barricade.
There was a new sheriff in town.