Support Ahmad Massoud and the Afghan Resistance by Kamal Alam
The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan sparked celebration among jihadist groups around the world. By helping the emerging resistance movement in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, the international community can show its determination to prevent the country from once again becoming a haven for terrorists.
PANJSHIR, AFGHANISTAN – As the international community abandons Afghanistan, warriors veterans of the struggles against the Soviet Union and the Taliban gather at their former base camps in the heart of the Panjshir Valley in north-central Afghanistan. ‘Afghanistan. Although some towns in Panjshir fell to the Taliban, a National Resistance Front, similar to the one that fought the Soviets and helped the United States topple the Taliban in 2001, began to mount a campaign of resistance.
Their cause is both just and necessary, as a dizzying number of terrorist organizations are gathering in other parts of the country as well. This is a clear and present danger for the whole world, as the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan once spawned and incubated jihadist movements that spread from Algeria to Libya, via Syria and the United States. ‘Saudi Arabia.
The reestablishment of the Taliban regime is already inspiring many of these groups. Al Qaeda partners in the Syrian city of Idlib openly rejoice and Hamas celebrates. The Taliban’s return to power has provided violent Islamist groups not only with a powerful moral victory, but also, and more worryingly, a potential safe haven. Already, one of the closest collaborators of the founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, has triumphantly returned to Afghanistan.
To prevent the reappearance of the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and its ramifications, the entire international community – especially China and India – must work with local partners. Only then will the Taliban feel enough pressure to sever ties with their associated outcasts.
Although the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they never completely eliminated resistance to their rule. In the rugged and narrow valley of the Panjshir, the Northern Alliance, led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, dominated. Massoud warned as early as the mid-1980s that foreign fighters migrating to Afghanistan had a more sinister agenda than driving out the Soviets. Two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Massoud was assassinated in a suicide bombing attack by members of al-Qaida contracted by the Taliban. Today, malicious forces are targeting Massoud’s ancestral home in the Panjshir Valley, where his son, Ahmad, is organizing resistance to the Taliban regime.
I have known young Massoud for over a decade, watching him mature from a cautious and timid figure into a leader who commands respect from his fighters and the civilian population of the valley. He started his career working on humanitarian projects in Panjshir at the head of the Massoud Foundation, rather than joining the Afghan government. He never saw the country as a personal piggy bank, as countless government leaders and mid-level bureaucrats have. Instead, Massoud pleaded for accountability and fairness. And unlike many other Afghan leaders, who scorned these concepts and bought homes in the UAE and Spain, Massoud has spent the past four years living in Panjshir and building a solid foundation.
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Massoud’s desire to stay and fight is lost on other Afghan leaders. Unlike warlords like Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Muhammad Nur, Massoud held his own as the Taliban rose to power. He rejected offers from two heads of state to put him to safety in private planes. In doing so, he follows the example of his father, who never abandoned his homeland even as he faced the Taliban juggernaut.
I spent with him the painful days of the fall of Afghanistan. For three weeks, we saw province after province surrender to the Taliban and panic gripped the country. But, despite the chaos and uncertainty, Massoud insists that the collapse of the government will not lead to his own surrender.
Massoud is no stranger to the international community. He studied at the prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in the UK and later at King’s College London. When his maternal grandfather asked him why he chose to specialize in war studies when Afghanistan could offer him a view of the battlefield, the young Massoud replied that he was concentrating on the subject. so that his generation could avoid war rather than get bogged down in it. As Massoud matures, his stature grows, earning him meetings with heads of state and intelligence chiefs from around the world.
Today, faced with an onslaught from the Taliban, he needs material assistance, not petit fours in presidential palaces. The billions of dollars in US weapons the Taliban took on their march on Kabul have made their way to the valley, and Massoud does not have the supply routes through Tajikistan his father relied on to repel the Taliban . But the steep, rugged gorges of the valley offer him advantages that no war strategist can deny. And the ranks of its fighters grow daily as former Afghan security officials flock to the Panjshir, unwilling to accept the Taliban takeover. There have been widespread protests in Kabul and abroad in support of Massoud call for resistance.
To protect his enclave, Massoud’s forces need long-range mortars to repel the Taliban’s heavy guns. Communication equipment is also vital in a region where the Taliban periodically cuts off mobile and internet links. And civilians in his young rebel redoubt are in need of wintering kits as temperatures begin to drop. Without such help, this last bastion of Taliban resistance will be wiped out.
Since the Taliban took Kabul, the international community has insisted that it will neither accept the reimposition of the group’s strict Islamic restrictions nor acquiesce as Afghanistan becomes a jihadist refuge. By supporting Massoud, the international community can back up his words with action. Otherwise, it is likely that the Taliban will remove international pressure and reestablish an Islamic emirate, offering protection to all like-minded groups, regardless of their murderous agenda. It is a proposition that the world cannot afford.