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Sebastian Junger on Afghanistan’s Slain Rebel Leader Ahmad Shah Massoud
National Geographic ^ | October 2001

Posted on 09/08/2003 7:46:16 PM PDT by Shermy

The Perfect Storm author spent a month with anti-Taliban warrior Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2000. Now he offers his reaction to the recent murder of the Northern Alliance leader—and the subsequent attacks on the U.S.

In November 2000 [National Geographic] Adventure sent contributing editor Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Reza (see photo gallery) to profile Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. The resulting article (read an excerpt) appeared in our March/April 2001 issue and has just been reprinted in Fire, a collection of Junger’s journalistic work.

________________________________________________________

On September 9, 2001, suicide bombers killed Massoud. Two days later the U.S. was under attack. Here Junger offers his thoughts on those two days of terror and their implications.

THE ASSASSINATION

On the morning of September 9, 2001, guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud sat down with two reporters at his base in Khvajeh Baha od Din, in northern Afghanistan, to give one more interview about the unending civil war in his country.

The two men were apparently from North Africa—Algeria, Morocco, or Tunisia, no one seems to know for sure—and said they worked for an Arab news agency. They had been at Khvajeh Baha od Din for more than a week, keeping to themselves, eating the rice and mutton provided for them, waiting for Massoud. They had a TV camera, but no one thought to inspect it, and they came recommended by people within Massoud’s own government.

Just before noon, with Massoud seated before them, they started the interview. Seconds later everyone in the room was either wounded or dead.

The attackers had packed the camera with explosives and blown themselves up. Nothing remained of one but his legs; the other was killed as he fled.

Massoud was horribly wounded but still alive. His men tried to rush him to a helicopter for the short flight to Tajikistan, but he survived only 15 minutes.

Ahmad Shah Massoud—hero of the war against the Soviets, implacable foe of the Taliban regime—passed from this life in the back of a battered Land Cruiser, racing through the mountains of Afghanistan. It was a sadly fitting end for a man whose life had been entirely dominated by war.

PRECURSOR TO THE U.S. ATTACKS?

I found out about Massoud’s death as I walked into the small, walled garden of photographer Reza’s house in Paris. It was a week after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and I was en route back to New York. I had called Reza from the airport and said I’d like to stop in to see him.

Reza knew Massoud well from the war against the Soviets, and he and I had spent a month together with Massoud last year.

I’d seen the reports of an assassination “attempt” on Massoud just two days before the U.S. attacks. But I’d also been told that he was going to survive. It was a lie, though—a desperate effort by Massoud’s Northern Alliance to retain control of the situation.

Reza stepped out of his kitchen to greet me; his face was broken with grief, and I knew. For a few minutes there was nothing to say. “We have many works to do,” Reza finally said. “There is too much to be done.”

It was a terrible moment. Thousands of people had died in the rubble of the World Trade Center, victims of the same extremist perversion of Islam that Massoud had been fighting.

Like all Americans, I was worried about further attacks. And I was saddened that the most powerful military in the world was contemplating a campaign against one of the poorest nations on Earth. The irony was that there appeared to be no Afghans among the 19 hijackers.

It seemed to me that Osama bin Laden had ordered the attempt on Massoud’s life before going ahead with his attacks on New York and Washington. He would not have dared provoke the United States the way he had, I believed, were Massoud still alive to make use of the military aid that might have finally been offered to him.

“AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN”

Reza and I sat at his kitchen table with a bottle of wine. Someone had sent him an e-mail that day that said, “You must be a happy man to have met Ahmad Shah Massoud.” And in fact we knew we’d been incredibly fortunate to have met him.

Massoud—who loathed the extremism of the Taliban as much as he did the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union—once told me he was fighting not only for a free Afghanistan but for a free world. There was something about him—the slow nod of his head as he listened to a question, the exhaustion and curiosity engraved on his handsome, haggard face—that made it clear we were in the presence of an extraordinary man.

I found it impossible not to listen to Massoud when he spoke, even though I didn’t understand a word. I watched everything he did, because I had the sense that somehow—in the way he poured his tea, in the way his hands carved the air as he talked—there was some secret to be learned.

Reza and I talked for two hours. It was a windy day, and we finally put on our jackets and got ready to face the memorial service being held across town. Before we left, Reza called a close aide of Massoud’s in Tajikistan to express our sorrow.

“I’m calling to find out that the terrible news is not true,” Reza said.

“It is true. But it is OK,” the aide said. “Now we are all Massoud.”

—Sebastian Junger


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2000; 20010909; 20010911; 200111; afghanistan; ahmadshahmassoud; ahmedabdelsattar; ahmedshamassoud; alqaeda; assassination; assassinationplot; eig; eij; gamaaalislamiyya; islamicgroup; letterofintroduction; lionofpandshir; lionofpanjir; lionofpanshir; lynnestewart; masood; masoud; massood; massoud; nationalgeographic; northernalliance; sattar; sebastianjunger; southasia; thelion
The second anniversary of 9/11 is fast coming. But tomorrow is the anniversary of the assassination of Shah Massoud too, a piece of the same puzzle.


> Italian photojournalist's Massoud tribute page


1 posted on 09/08/2003 7:46:16 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: archy; marron; TomGuy; aculeus; dighton; RedBloodedAmerican; swarthyguy; a_Turk; Grampa Dave; ...
Ping. 9/9 is the anniversary of Massoud's death.
2 posted on 09/08/2003 7:47:49 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
Probably the only Islamist I would be proud to fight along side. He is very missed!
3 posted on 09/08/2003 7:49:10 PM PDT by Andy from Beaverton (I only vote Republican to stop the Democrats)
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To: Shermy
As the post mentioned, the full article (I believe it was called "The Lion In Winter") is published in his book Fire, one of the last chapters. Worth reading. The book tells quite a bit about the way he operated and the kind of man he was (had a sense of humor).
4 posted on 09/08/2003 7:52:26 PM PDT by Ex-Dem (Anti-Quagmire Alert)
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To: Ex-Dem

NG intro to "Lion in Winter" story, FYI

5 posted on 09/08/2003 7:54:21 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Ex-Dem
Wow, that was a confusing post. The first "he" refers to Junger, the last two "he"s refer to Massoud. Sorry about that.
6 posted on 09/08/2003 7:54:31 PM PDT by Ex-Dem (Anti-Quagmire Alert)
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To: Shermy
!!!!!

Full color photos?! I'm feeling a bit ripped off >_<. I bought the book a few years ago and it didn't have a single photo (not B&W, nothing). I might try to get my hands on that issue of National Geographic.
7 posted on 09/08/2003 7:57:24 PM PDT by Ex-Dem (Anti-Quagmire Alert)
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To: marron
http://www.ciriello.com/site/pw/sto/46.0010massudeng.arc.html

Interview in 2000 with Massoud. After a Taliban offensive that ultimately failed. Osama/Omar tried again in 2001. They plan terrorism well - but not war for territory.
8 posted on 09/08/2003 8:04:23 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
FR Archives -

September 9, 2001 - Opposition's military chief Ahmed Shah Massood injured in bomb explosion

9/11/2001 - 3:34 AM - A lion cornered - The attack on Masood is bound to strengthen the Taleban

9 posted on 09/08/2003 8:20:39 PM PDT by HAL9000
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To: Shermy
This is the guy succeeded by Rashid Dostum, the Uzbeck warlord who recaptured Mazar-e-Sharif. Dostum wasn't nearly the unifying force Massoud would have been, and Hamid Karzai has been able to dilute Dostum's influence in the post-war Afghan government.

Massoud's assassination definitely changed the face of Afghan politics. By all accounts, he would have been the new president.

10 posted on 09/08/2003 8:22:28 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: IronJack
Whatever happened to Massoud's lieutenant? I think his name was Abdullah Adbullah or Dr. Abdullah.
11 posted on 09/08/2003 8:25:09 PM PDT by Ex-Dem (Anti-Quagmire Alert)
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To: Ex-Dem
Wasn't he involved in the formation of the new interim government? Minister of something or other? I recall seeing his name bandied about in various accounts of the period, but don't recall whatever happened to him.
12 posted on 09/08/2003 8:28:27 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: Shermy
I was saddened that the most powerful military in the world was contemplating a campaign against one of the poorest nations on Earth. The irony was that there appeared to be no Afghans among the 19 hijackers.

Annoying remark. We didn't launch a campaign against the Afghans. We helped the Afghans win their war against the Taliban.

And the fact that their weren't any Afghans among the hijackers is not irony. It is tragedy, the tragic fact that Bin Ladin hid himself among them and at least some of them willingly gave him refuge, even knowing what he did to us. Anyone who would give him refuge knowing what he did to us willingly accepted to share his fate. Thats fine.

13 posted on 09/08/2003 8:28:38 PM PDT by marron
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To: IronJack
You're right. I just Googled him. His title is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Afghan Interim Government.

http://www.nato.int/multi/photos/2003/m030716a.htm
14 posted on 09/08/2003 8:31:31 PM PDT by Ex-Dem (Anti-Quagmire Alert)
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To: Ex-Dem
Yes, he became Foreign Minisster. I found him to be an impressive man from what I saw on TV.
15 posted on 09/08/2003 8:37:32 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: Ex-Dem
Abdullah Abdullah is a fantastic leader. A real professional at leadership and strategy, he has moved back permanently to Afghanistan except for regular visits back to New Delhi (where his family has been based for several years.)

The unknown fact is that the major backer of the Northern Alliance this whole time has been India - just as the Pakis were the creators and sustainers of the Taliban.

16 posted on 09/09/2003 12:26:02 AM PDT by CanadianLibertarian
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To: CanadianLibertarian
I was in Kabul Stadium today. Check www.NoWaxMedia.com for some low res pics. More coming soon.
17 posted on 09/09/2003 8:14:50 AM PDT by JeepInMazar (www.answering-islam.org)
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To: Andy from Beaverton
Probably the only Islamist I would be proud to fight along side. He is very missed!

The US Special Forces team operators working in Afghanistan for the last couple of years were not quite so picky, and from Robin Moore's account in The Hunt for Bin-Laden it appears that they have pretty good reason for feeling that way about some of those they've worked with to eliminate our common enemies.

There are others in *The Stan* who took a somewhat different approach that works better for me, but I am not about to sell short the abilities and dedication of those both working with us and opposing us. And they do know their own backyard exceedingly well.


18 posted on 09/09/2003 9:44:34 AM PDT by archy (Keep in mind that the milk of human kindness comes from a beast that is both cannibal and a vampire.)
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To: Shermy; LarryLied
anniversary bump

[US] Post[al] worker Ahmed Abdel Sattar may be implicated in the Sept. 9 slaying of Northern Alliance Gen. Ahmed Shah Massoud. The government has described Sattar as a “”communications center” for the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who is serving a life sentence for plotting attacks on the WTC and other NYC landmarks. 1 posted on Monday, May 13, 2002 1:46:28 AM by LarryLied

19 posted on 09/09/2012 10:50:19 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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1995 : (NY : SHEIKH OMAR ABDEL RAHMAN IS CONVICTED OF PLOTTING TO BLOW UP THE WTC IN 1993; FROM HIS PRISON CELL IN THE U.S. HE WOULD LATER DIRECT -WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF HIS LEFTWING LAWYER, US POSTAL WORKER AHMED ABDEL SATTAR, AND EGYPTIAN YASSIR SIRRI - THE MURDER PLOT WHICH ENDED IN THE ASSASSINATION OF AFGHAN NORTHERN ALLIANCE GENERAL AHMED SHAH MASSOUD ON SEPT 9, 2001; THE ASSASSINATION TOOK PLACE JUST DAYS BEFORE THE 9/11 ATTACKS ON THE USA) — “U.S. man’s letter links to Afghan killing,” Middle East Times, 2002, http://www.metimes.com/2K2/issue2002-20/eg/us_mans_letter.htm (* My note: So much for the ‘criminal justice method of dealing with terrorists...)


20 posted on 09/09/2012 10:56:47 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: piasa

SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (AFGHANISTAN : NORTHERN ALLIANCE LEADER AHMED SHAH MASSOUD IS ASSASSINATED BY AL QAEDA OPERATIVES BEARING A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION PARTIALLY DRAFTED BY EGYPTIAN-BORN US POSTAL WORKER AHMED ABDEL SATTAR AND EGYPTIAN YASSIR SIRRI) Massoud’s murder, which took place on 9 September 2001. ...U.S. authorities [would come to] believe that Massoud was killed as a pre-emptive strike in advance of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that killed more than 3,000 people two days later, the [NY Post] newspaper [later] said. — “U.S. man’s letter links to Afghan killing,” Middle East Times, 2002, http://www.metimes.com/2K2/issue2002-20/eg/us_mans_letter.htm


21 posted on 09/09/2012 10:59:37 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: Fedora

To: piasa; Calpernia; Peach; prairiebreeze; windchime
Thanks! That also brings Ramsey Clark and some others of interest into the picture:
Who Is Behind Lynne Stewart?http://www.frontpagemag.com/articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=3340

It was Ramsey Clark who urged Lynne Stewart to become the blind sheik’s defense attorney. Clark’s two previous choices, Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys and noted defenders of criminals and terrorists — including the Palestinian assassin of Meyer Kahane — William Kuntsler and Ron Kuby, had recused themselves.

On the CCR’s links to the Vietnam antiwar movement and Soviet terrorist network in the 1960s-1970s, see my comments at:

Soros Funded Stewart Defense , Post 49
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1345147/posts?page=49#49
23 posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 3:08:12 PM by Fedora


22 posted on 09/09/2012 11:01:42 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: dennisw

9/9/2001 - 9/11/2001 anniversary ping

December 09, 2004
New York man admits he called for killing Jews
Lynne Stewart trial/Ahmed Abdel Sattar update:
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/004243.php


23 posted on 09/09/2012 11:05:53 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge)
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To: Shermy

BTTT


24 posted on 09/09/2012 11:12:41 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
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To: piasa

blast from the past!!


25 posted on 09/10/2012 7:12:19 AM PDT by dennisw (Government be yo mamma - Re-elect Barack Obama)
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