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« Where Did The War Go? | Main | NASA Slogan Update »

Six Years Ago

Most people think that September 11th was the opening of the main Al Qaeda campaign, but it was really two days earlier, on September 9th, with the assassination in Afghanistan of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a key figure in the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviets, who afterward had been fighting to liberate his country from the Taliban for years. No one paid much attention to the event at the time, but in hindsight, as the Wikipedia article notes, there is good reason to think that he was assassinated by bin Laden as a means of consolidating his power in Kabul, as part of the preparation for the attacks scheduled to happen two days later.

As a remembrance, here is an open letter from him to the American people, published in 1998.

[Update in the evening]

Welcome, Instapundit readers! If you've never been here before you might want to check out the general blog.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 09, 2007 10:57 AM
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One of the Big Lies being purveyed by the Left is that "We created the Taliban" by arming and supporting the mujahidin during the Soviet occupation. The Taliban were, in fact, a creation of Pakistani Intelligence and were largely supported by them, as well as the Saudis and other Islamic states. Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panshir, was our ally and an opponent of the Taliban. His loss was a grave blow to the Afghan people.

Posted by Mark R. Whittington at September 9, 2007 12:05 PM

If Massoud had lived, he would have been a unifying force in the country and Afghanistan would have moved forward at a much faster pace.

It's not as if Afghanistan has a surplus of organizational talent and brilliant minds. Killing him set back the country by 20 years, perhaps more.

Posted by Strabo the Lesser at September 9, 2007 03:57 PM

Well somebody noticed. Dana Rohrabacher, who had known Massoud from his travels to Afghanistan and who is now a member of Congress, contacted the Bush administration's National Security Council after the assassination and informed them of the seriousness of this event. Whatever he told the NSC, it got some attention and he was scheduled for a meeting to provide more info. The meeting was on 9/11, but at a time after the hijackings, and obviously too late for any preventive action.

Posted by B'ham at September 9, 2007 04:01 PM

Connecting the assasination with NA leader Massoud directly to 9/11 continues to be nonsensical. Taliban/Pakistan had been trying to kill him and other NA leaders for years just like they had been fighting the NA for years (the Northern Alliance held a position in Afghanistan similar to the one Kurds held in Iraq; an autonomous self-defended region within a decrepit failed state).

Hindsight isn't 20-20, events that more or less coincide aren't neccessarily connected in any substantial or direct manner even if they're instigated by the same people.

Both of the events are known to have been in the planning for years and none have found any indication that they were tied together operationally. Some people have been thinking out loud about a connection but it is ramshackle and hasn't provided anything solid or sensible to my knowledge.

The NA didn't collapse after the attack and never would have, the people living in NA territory were far too fond of their freedom to allow that.

By the way the assasination actually got MSM mention on this side of the pond but it would have been strange if the average citizen paid any more attention to it than they do to for example the current problems in Nigeria.

Posted by Habitat Hermit at September 9, 2007 08:47 PM

I thought the opening campaign was the first WTC bombing in 1993. It didn't go that well, but it was a start.

Then there was Somolia, where Al Qaeda forces trained local militia how to use RPGs to take down a helicopter. It included strategy to use such an attack to draw in additional US military forces like an ambush.

You also have the Khobar tower bombings, the attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the attack on USS Cole. None of these changed the US threat posture against Al Qaeda. Instead, people pretended, as some do now, that there was no connection to the participants, their religion, and their sympathies.

Posted by Leland at September 10, 2007 07:18 AM

No the Northern Alliance didn't collapse after Massoud's death of that of Abdul Haq a month
later; but they were Pushtoons with combat experience and more of a following than Karzai,
Fahim, or Rashim Dustum could ever hope to have.
Zahir Shah was too old and remote, Rabbani was too intellectual to ever have a stake in the run
for office, Which raises a question, who will succeed Karzai, Imran Khan or one of the other
warlords mentioned above.
Not surprisingly the 'realists' in the
administration blocked any support to the Northern Alliance,and badmouthed him to all interested parties; with stories of drug and diamond smuggling. until it was too late

Posted by narciso at September 10, 2007 11:59 AM

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