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Current Events => The World Today => Topic started by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 12:48:44 am

Title: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 12:48:44 am


Ahmed Shah Massoud was known as the Lion of Panjshir. He was a man who prayed, hoped,  dreamed, and fought for a free Afghanistan. He spent his entire adult life in service to his country and her people. Massoud was a man of peace forced into war. He was assassinated on September 9, 2001 by al-Qaeda suicide bombers who feared him more than any other man in the country.

Massoud was a fascinating dichotomy. This man who went to college to become an architect and create beautiful buildings ended up becoming so brilliant a military strategist, he is credited in large part for ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Nine times the Soviet Union tried to defeat Massoud in the Panjshir Valley, and nine times they were repelled. 

Title: Re: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 12:50:17 am

September 9, 2001   
  In Memory of Beloved
Ahmed Shah Massoud

Title: Re: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 12:53:58 am

Born: 2 September 1953
 Panjshir, Afghanistan
Died: 9 September 2001
Takhar, Afghanistan
Occupation: Prominent Mujahideen commander during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, afterwards Minister of Defense, and later leader of the Northern Alliance


Title: Re: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 12:59:18 am
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Ahmed Shah Massoud circa 1985 as a mujahidin commander.   
  Photo by Raffaele Ciriello

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Commander Massoud at the European Union.

"May God bless him and the people he has left behind. His mission in life was the freedom of Afghanistan, and he became a martyr for that cause. We will continue to fulfill the objectives and desires of the man who lies buried here."   (President Hamid Karzai at the grave of Massoud, Sept. 7, 2002)

Title: Re: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 01:08:23 am
Massoud's Early Years   

  How did Ahmed Shah Massoud become the Lion of Panjshir? What events in his life caused this man to become one of the greatest military strategists and most charismatic leaders of the second half of the twentieth century?  Why was he considered so dangerous that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network felt the need to assassinate Massoud two days before the attack on the World Trade Center?   

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 Ahmed Shah Massoud was born in Jangalak in the Panjshir Valley in 1953. He attended the university in Kabul where he studied engineering. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979 changed the course of that country's history and the direction of Ahmed Shah Massoud's life. Gone were the days of prayer, study and youthful hope. Arrived were the days of resistence, war, and the mujahidin.
No one could have guessed in the early days that Massoud would become one of the most brilliant military strategists of his era.   
  Photos by Reza   
  Massoud was a natural leader of men. He was clear sighted yet visionary. While at war, he prayed for peace. While in the midst of destruction, he dreamed of rebuilding.
While his hope for Afghanistan was one of liberation and democracy for all people, he was realistic about politics, diplomacy, and cultural and religious influences.   
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  The invasion of the Soviet Union to support the collapsing Communist government in Afghanistan gave birth to a loose collection of Afghan freedom fighters. They became known around the world as the mujahadin. Ahmed Shah Massoud soon established himself as one of the mujahadin's most prominent commanders.   

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 When he joined the mujahidin around 1980, Ahmed Shah Massoud had no idea that the next twenty years - the rest of his life - would be involved in one war campaign after the other. When the Soviet Union finally left Afghanistan, factional fighting within the country lead to a civil war. The Taliban, financed and sponsored by Pakistan, went into Afghanistan with a promise of law and order. At first the war-weary citizens welcomed the Taliban and their promises of peace and control. It did not take long, however, for the enormity of the mistake to become known.

The Taliban inflicted on the people of Afghanistan a repressive version of extreme Islam. They denied the people all human rights, abolished music and song, closed schools and medical centers, and established the Ministry of Good and Evil to enforce their belief system on the entire country. Ahmed Shah Massoud and other mujahadin found this radical form of Islam impossible to accept. They formed an alliance and swore to free their land from this latest invading force.   
 "We consider this our duty -- to defend humanity against the scourge of intolerance, violence, and fanaticism."  -- Ahmed Shah Massoud   
 As time passed the Taliban, first supported by the Pakastani ISI, developed a close association with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Well funded and with military support from those organizations, the Taliban took control of more and more areas of Afghanistan.

Commander Massoud suffered several setbacks. His appeals for help from the West fell on deaf ears. Although Massoud represented the UN recognized government of Afghanistan, few countries without a vested interest in controlling Afghan soil did anything to help the mujahidin in their struggle. They were finally forced into the northeast corner of the country, the Panjshir Valley, and maintained control of between five to ten percent of the country. The United States and other countries who had armed and supplied their former allies in the war against the Soviet Union began to consider whether or not they should recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Title: Re: the Lion of Panjshir
Post by: Sonja on July 03, 2007, 01:15:03 am
Massoud in France   

 In April 2001 Ahmed Shah Massoud was invited to attend a meeting of the European Union in Paris and Strasbourg, France.   
 The following is a fictional account of Massoud's speech to the EU based on newspaper accounts I have read. Some of the words are those actually spoken by Massoud in his address.   
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    Massoud and Afghanistan's Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, met with many government officials from around Europe. 
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 In Strasbourg, Massoud was brilliant. His remarks were interrupted many times by thunderous, standing ovations. His message was loud and clear.  “The Taliban, along with the Pakistan military and Osama bin Laden are facing the Afghan nation. Very soon you will witness popular uprisings on several fronts, and the Taliban will lose ground. Our enemies claim that our struggle is ethnic in nature, pitting one group against the other, but in the worst conditions inside the country, all ethnic groups are still together and standing next to each other. There are works underway to build a twenty thousand man army, and we will expand the national resistance movement. We consider this our duty - to defend humanity against the scourge of intolerance, violence, and fanaticism. We will build a democratic Islam in which the rights of all citizens, both men and women, are protected and in which all are free to determine their political leadership by ballots, not bullets.
    “The international community must support us in our struggle. They must provide aid to both our internal refugees as well as those refugees who have who have fled the brutality of the Taliban and the war by moving to Pakistan and Iran. There is famine and disease.  My people are starving and dying. We need your help, and I humbly ask you for it.
    “Finally, I have words of caution for you. If the West does not help us eliminate al-Qaeda, if they do not help us rid our land of those terrorists who have invaded it, there will be a tragedy, a horror visited on you that is beyond comprehension or endurance. Help us, and in  doing that, help yourselves.”     
 Ahmed Shah Massoud was fascinated by foreign cultures, peoples, and lands. Whenever he met someone from outside Afghanistan, he would question them in great detail about what they had seen and experienced. He would have loved to travel extensively himself but never felt free to leave Afghanistan which she was in such turmoil. The trip to France was one of his few excursions outside of his own country. Massoud studied French in school and spoke it fluently.

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