Political Assassination Prior to 9-11
The recent media blitz on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks reminded me of my own reporting, as I was a working journalist at the time. I interviewed a New Jersey Air National Guard 177th air wing fighter pilot who was with his wingman on the tarmac at Atlantic City airport at the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower, and was ordered not to take off an return to their base headquarters, where they learned of the attack.
If they had taken off there was no doubt they would have crossed paths and could have intercepted the second plane, but they were only armed with bombs as they were going on a practice bomb run in upstate New York. They later speculated they could have tipped the wings of the plane and forced it to crash without hitting its target, but that would have probably been suicidal for themselves as well.
I also knew Kurt Loder, my first editor, whose apartment was in the shadow of the World Trade Center, who left his windows open when he fled, and when permitted to return a few weeks later found everything covered with inches of dust and debris. Charlie Montgomery, an ex-Marine and former editor of mine at the Atlantic City Sun, was then working for the magazine tabloids out of Florida, and was suspected of being infected with anthrax, the poison powder sent to their offices that killed a few fellow workers. The main suspect in that chemical attack was a scientist who worked for a US military lab, much like the Wuhan, China lab the French built that is the suspected source of the COVID 19 virus.
Shortly after September 11th I went back to my pile of Philadelphia morning Inquirer newspapers and took out the Tuesday, September 11, but of course there was no mention of the terrorist attacks that occurred later that morning, after the paper had went to press. I was looking for any possible clues that were missed that could have indicated the attacks were coming, and found a small, one column few inches long news report buried deep in the paper about the assassination of the leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
It is now known that the September 9th assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud was engineered by Osama Bin Laden, also believed to be the mastermind of the September 11th attacks two days later.
The suicide bombers posed as television media journalists whose bombs were planted in their camera equipment, a Modus Operandi very similar to the planned assassination of Fidel Castro when he visited South America, a plan devised by David Atlee Phillips and Antonio Veciana, both of whom have been implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy. That plan failed when the anti-Castro Cuban bombers didn’t feel like killing themselves, and didn’t believe they would escape alive if they tried to carry it out.
My point is that whenever a political assassination occurs, it should set off alarms as it is a forerunner of bad things to come.
I haven’t seen any media references to the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, except in the short reports that his son is now leading the resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, though he lacks the military experience his father had in fighting the Soviets and Taliban.
Then I came across this article from France that tries to put it all together:
Death of an Afghan icon: 20 years since the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud
Two days before 9/11, an Al-Qaeda suicide squad posing as journalists sat down for an interview with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the last major commander resisting the jihadist group's Taliban allies in northern Afghanistan.
Before he could answer a question, they detonated explosives that investigators later said had been cunningly disguised in their camera equipment.
Twenty years on, Massoud's assassination and the September 11 attacks on the United States are for many Afghans the twin cataclysms that started yet another era of uncertainty and bloodshed -- and which continue to reverberate following the Taliban's return.
The charismatic Massoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir after his native valley, built his name during the 1980s as a brilliant guerrilla commander repelling Soviet forces.
By the late 1990s, he was fighting the Taliban -- and their Al-Qaeda allies.
Both wanted him gone.
The audacious hit was ordered by Osama bin Laden himself.
The assassins pretended to be filming a documentary, and secured the Massoud interview by presenting a concocted back story printed on a letterhead from an Islamic centre in Britain. They used stolen Belgian passports to travel.
Then they hit a wall -- Massoud was too busy to sit down with them when they arrived in August 2001 at his base in Khwaja Bahauddin village.
"They spent 10 days with us calmly and patiently waiting, and never unnecessarily insisting on the interview," Fahim Dashti, a journalist and close Massoud aide, told AFP a few weeks after the assassination.
Dashti was setting up his own camera to record the interview as the two Al-Qaeda operatives relayed their questions in Arabic to the commander's close aide, Masood Khalili, for translation.
"We were not feeling comfortable," Khalili told AFP in October 2001, especially because they had asked questions about bin Laden.
"The 'cameraman' had a nasty smile. The 'journalist' was very calm," he said.
Just as Massoud heard the translation, the explosives went off.
'Your leader is dead'
The killing sent shockwaves across Afghanistan and the world.
Massoud was seen as the last big hope by anti-Taliban Afghans at the time, and by Western governments as a potent ally against even more hardline Islamists.
With his Northern Alliance resistance already on the back foot against the Taliban, his aides hid his death for days.
A week after he was killed, Massoud was buried in his home district of Bazarak -- his body shrouded in the colours of the Afghan flag and with thousands of followers in the funeral procession.
A marble tomb was built attracting huge numbers of devotees.
"When (Massoud) was killed, I was in Panjshir. The resistance forces were...surrounded from all sides," a 47-year-old resident of the area told AFP on Monday, requesting anonymity because of security fears.
"The Taliban even announced on the radio: your leader is dead and you're done. But... the death of the leader gave the people another reason to fight harder."
The tables were turned within weeks as the United States, looking to punish the Taliban for harboring the 9/11 perpetrators, invaded Afghanistan.
The Taliban regime fell by the end of 2001, pummelled by American bombers guided by Northern Alliance fighters.
Al-Qaeda, hoping to get the upper hand both against the United States and in Afghanistan with their two major attacks, was on the run.
The Taliban launched a lightning offensive as the last US-led troops left Afghanistan this year, capping their 20-year insurgency with the capture of Kabul on August 15.
Once again, the main opposition emerged in Panjshir -- led this time by Ahmad Massoud, who was 12 years old when Al-Qaeda killed his father.
But the Taliban swiftly sent fighters to surround the area, claiming eventually on Monday that they had captured Panjshir.
Among the resistance dead in the heavy fighting was Fahim Dashti, the journalist who survived the Massoud bombing 20 years ago.
One Taliban account posted a picture of fighters in Panjshir standing in front of a vandalised Ahmad Shah Massoud poster.
Ahmad Shah Massoud's brother Ahmad Wali said in Geneva Tuesday that while their National Resistance Front was "wounded", thousands of fighters can come back at any time.
It is a difficult scenario for Mohammad Sana Safa, a 63-year-old who worked with Massoud in the 1980s when there were daily attacks by the Soviets.
"Ahmad Massoud is a young man, patriotic, but he has no military experience like his father," Safa said Monday.
"Had (his father) been alive today, we would have not witnessed this... the fall of Panjshir to the Taliban."