Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Lion of the Panjshir

The above are photos of a man named Ahmed Shah Masoud. Who is that? He looks like one of those "terrorists"! Why would you write about him on your blog?

Well, he was not a terrorist. He was a freedom fighter, or mujahideen, who fought against the Soviet Union when they invaded Afghanistan (he repelled nine separate advances of the Soviet armies into the Panjshir valley of Afghanistan, his homeland, and after that fought against the Taliban as that group worked to take rule in Afghanistan. An ethnic Tajik himself of Afghanistan, he allied with Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks and some Pashtuns in what was called the Northern Alliance, to resist the advancement of the predominantly Pashtun Taliban forces. In the late 1990's, Masoud was allied with the United States in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

On September 9th, 2001, Masoud received a visit from two supposed Arab journalists, documenting his fight against the Taliban. These "journalists" turned out to be agents of Osama Bin Laden, a Taliban ally, and when they set up to interview Masoud, their "cameras" exploded in tremendous blasts, killing themselves, Masoud and several others present. Bin Laden had succeeded in taking out his sworn enemy, in paving the way for other plans that Ahmed Shah Masoud would surely have attempted to respond to had he lived. His assassination was critical as a removal of a vital enemy regarding events that would occur two days later, on September 11, 2001.

His military tactical skills and ability to lead men were and are legendary (his tactics are now studied in the Russian military academies by those he defeated), yet what I find so interesting about him was that he was a poet (as so many of the Tajik-Persian peoples are), trained in engineering and interested in architecture, and who lamented the fact that his newly built home in the Panjshir contained a large library with all of his books, which he wanted to go home and read in peace after 25 years of war against Russians, warlords and Taliban. And with some, special people, his charisma shows even through that amazing face; with his hawk-like nose and eyes that are certainly those of a poet, maybe a poet who had seen too much. I wish that I would have been able to meet Ahmed Shah Masoud, the Lion of the Panjshir.

You can read more about him at Wikipedia, and in the last two chapters of Sebastian Junger's book, "Fire".


Blogger Willowtree said...

I've never heard of this before, and couldnt help but think - wow has media trained us. The way you began the blog was spot on I think, we never hear/read about the men and woman who have no desire or inkling for terrorism. And we never hear/read about our next dorr neighbors who do.
How are your studies going Frank?

11:38 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

I read somewhere once that most (at least TV) media is geared to an 8th grade level, in order to reach a broader audience. I guess that would explain why if someone looks a certain way, most people would just say, oh, "terrorist".

I'm taking the week of 4/27 off from work in order to essentially finish my thesis, which I expect will be reviewed over the summer. So, I'm seeing a little light now at the end of that tunnel!....

1:32 AM  
Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

amazing story
thanks for telling it

9:34 AM  

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