The Lion of Panjshir

The Man Who Warned the World of 9/11

By John Doe (Contributor)


This month will mark the anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks, but there is another great tragedy that took place in September — the death of a great man who fought the likes of the Red Army, violent militias, and the Taliban. A man who sought to bring peace, moderation, and democracy to a nation ruled by chaos.

Ahmad Shah Massoud, otherwise known as the Lion of Panjshir, was a military leader who fought time and time again during the seemingly never-ending barrage of wars in Afghanistan since 1979. Using guerilla warfare tactics, Ahmad Shah Massoud defeated the vastly more better equiped Soviet Army nine times in the Valley of Panjshir which earned him his nickname.

One of the most remarkable qualities of this guerilla leader was his humbleness. Whenever entering a village, the Commander would dismount his horse so as not to tower above the inhabitants and make them feel as though they were beneath him.

Source: Reza Deghati
Source: Reza Deghati

Another feature that distinguished the Lion of Panjshir from other warlords was the close bond he held with his people. Sher Dil Qaderi, a soldier who served under him, claims that Massoud would always listen to and discuss ideas with others: “No matter whether it was a kid or a hundred-year-old man, when people came to him, he listened”.

The commander’s kind and merciful heart made him an admirable figure. Massoud insisted there be no abuse of prisoners, and food was regularly provided to imprisoned opponents even when in short supply. The Lion of Panjshir showed former enemies forgiveness. He allowed the past communist president he rebelled against, Mohammed Najibullah, to seek refuge from the Taliban in the abandoned UN compound at Ka bul.

Finally, a progressive view of Islam is what made Ahmad Shah Massoud an excellent role model. The Commander studied the holy books of Christianity and Judaism. On July 28th 2000, Massoud signed the Declaration of Essential Rights of Afghan Women according to which women were given the right of free speech and “to wear or not to wear the burqa”.

Unfortunately, the Afghan received no supplies from the US after the Soviets left. Nonetheless, this did not stop him from informing the President of possible attacks on his nation’s soil. “The problems of Afghanistan will become the problems of the world”, Massoud famously declared. Declassified CIA documents reveal that, in 2001, he issued one final warning of a potential large-scale attack on the U.S. Unsurprisingly, it fell on deaf ears. On the 11th of September 2001, 3,000 Americans died. Just two days earlier, men posing as journalists, most likely to be agents of Osama Bin Laden, assassinated the Afghan hero in a suicide bombing. Even after all his sacrifices, Massoud is not a well-known figure to most in the West. His struggle is unappreciated.

In the media, we hear of Muslim terrorists. We hear of Osama Bin Laden. We do not hear of Muslim heroes. We do not hear of Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Peace be upon him.

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