(Autumn 2001) Just two days prior to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 Arab terrorists with Belgian passports, posing as journalists, killed one of Afghanistan's most effective leaders, Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Not only was a charismatic Afghan leader murdered, but a devious strategy was also divulged. With the murder of Commander Massoud the terrorists, directed and controlled by Osama bin Laden, had eliminated a most important leader and the most effective opponent to the Taliban regime.
In fact, the terrorists had hoped to eliminate the whole of the leadership of the Northern Alliance. "All the top members of the leadership council were there," said Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf, its deputy chairman.
|Commander Ahmed Shad Massoud|
Commander Sayyaf said that the terrorists had tried to obtain a group photo of the whole of the leadership of the Northern Alliance. Among the other leaders present at the meeting, Commander Sayyaf said, were Commander Massoud, the Northern Alliance defense chief; General Mohammed Fahim; Burhanuddin Rabbani, the Alliance's top political figure, who served as president of the government in Kabul from 1992 to 1996; and Wahidullah Sabawoon, the leader of a Pashtun party and the Alliance's finance chief.
Had the Northern Alliance leadership been largely wiped out in one terrorist attack, the United States would have faced a much more serious situation in Afghanistan in the war against terrorism. The Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban movements would have been largely leaderless. The terrorists had hoped that they could neutralize the forces that were fighting Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
This factor would have meant that the United States would be unable to have the support of Afghans to spearhead attacks against the terrorist Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's Qaida network.
Almost immediately following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, CNN interviewed Dr. Ravan Farhadi, the Northern Alliance's ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador Farhadi told CNN he believed that "the attack on Massoud was directly linked to the terrorist attacks in the United States and that his government offers immediate strategic support to the United States." Continuing, he said: "The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan led by President Rabbani controls more than 20 percent of Afghanistan. We assre the Americans that 99 percent of all Afghans are against the Taliban and also against Osama bin Laden. They are also conscious of the fact that since Osama bin Laden came to Afghanistan in 1996 from Sudan, he has done a lot of harm to the Afghans," Ambassador Farhadi said.
"We are offering America," he continued, "the full support of 15,000 troops under our command for use in any strikes against the Taliban or against Osama bin Laden. We have a small army, and unfortunately, except for a few helicopters, no air force. But we are willing to help America in any way possible. We can also mobilize 15,000 more troops if the means are given to us."
Ambassador Farhadi told CNN: "The Taliban has implemented what they call their version of Islam. They have closed all girls' schools. They have forbidden all women's education. They have imposed total seclusion on Afghanistan's women. They are against all signs of civilization -- no TV, no music -- this is bringing Afghanistan to the Middle Ages."
Continuing, Ambassador Farhadi said: "The ordinary Afghan is ready to fight, to be armed against the Taliban. We in the Northern Alliance are doing what we can, but there are many within the Taliban-held area who would readily take up arms against Osama bin Laden if they are helped. If the Taliban is suppressed, Mr. bin Laden will have no safe haven, and he will be brought to justice."
In response to a statement by CNN that since the attacks on America that Afghanistan is now (more than ever) seen as a nation of terrorists, Ambassador Farhadi responded: "It's very interesting that none of these people (the hijackers) were Afghan. There are so many Afghans living outside Afghanistan -- none of them were part of this clique. Because this is not the Afghan's way of Islam, which is the way of justice and moderation."
Having written about Afghanistan for numerous years, as well as having cooperated with the Afghan people and leaders both within and outside Afghanistan, I too have remarked on numerous occasions that the Afghans have never been involved in terrorist activities against other countries. This includes the many years of a terrible and extremely costly war against an invading Red Army.
Following the tragic attacks against the United States on September 11, the anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance (United Front) were one of the first governments to offer their condolences and more important to offer direct military assistance. Victims of Taliban and Qaida terrorists themselves, Afghans know only so well the horror of war. They and their war torn country have been victims of war and terrorism. Hopefully, in the not-so-distant future, Afghanistan will once again be a country of peace. On September 23, in front of the United Nations in Geneva, hundreds of Afghan refugees assembled to voice their oppostion to terrorism. A giant banner read: "NO TO TERRORISM!" and the refugees chanted, "The Taliban protects bin Laden, so they too are murderers."