Showing posts from May, 2013

Searching for the Lion of Panjshir

Ever since watching videosof Ahmed Shah Massoud flying a helicopter up a precipitous river valley in the mountains of northern Afghanistan it had been a dream to go there, to the only place left untaken by the Soviets or the Taliban, to visit the tomb of the legendary ‘Lion of Panjshir.’ Massoud’s portrait hangs all over northern Afghanistan, in cafes, shops, police cars and in taxi windscreens. He oozes handsome charisma, like Bob Marley, but with a bazooka. His reputation as a strategist and fighter secured his place in history long before two Al Qaeda linked suicide bombers masquerading as journalists detonated their deadly devices in his presence two days before 9/11. His death was no accident of timing -he was a major thorn in the side of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, incidentally, means “The base,” a reference coined by a commander who served under Massoud before switching allegiances. “The base,” at that point in history, was Panjshir.
The Panjshir valley is a geograp…