10 yrs on,Afghans mourn Massoud amid firm security

Ahmad Shah Massoud led the last bastion of resistance to the Taliban in the 1990s.

Last Updated: Sep 09, 2011, 23:35 PM IST

Kabul: Afghanistan on Friday marked a decade
since the death of an iconic anti-Taliban commander two days
before 9/11 amid heightened security, with President Hamid
Karzai absent from a memorial event.

Ahmad Shah Massoud led the last bastion of resistance to
the Taliban in the 1990s and helped repel the 1980s Soviet
invasion before being killed by an al Qaeda bomb on September
9, 2001.

The anniversary of his death is an Afghan national
holiday.

Hundreds laid flowers at a landmark roundabout bearing
his name in Kabul while in his home area of Panjshir, many
shops flew black flags and displayed his photograph.

In Kabul, Saifurahman, a student visiting the monument
who like many Afghans uses only one name, said: "Today is more
important to us than 9/11 because Massoud fought to secure our
country.

"We have come here to commemorate this day and to keep
his memory alive."

Although police deployed 2,000 officers to Kabul`s
streets, some in armoured vehicles, and cancelled all leave in
case of a Taliban attack, Karzai did not attend a memorial
event at which other leading figures paid tribute to Massoud.
He has made public appearances to mark the anniversary in
previous years.

A weeping First Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a
Massoud ally, called him "Afghanistan`s national hero and a
defender of his country" at the event at a Kabul school.

Some experts say Massoud was deliberately assassinated by
al Qaeda just before 9/11 to ensure that the Taliban leader
Mullah Omar would continue to support them after the Twin
Towers attacks, despite near-certain US retribution.

Others argue the killing came at Omar`s behest as the
Taliban sought to wipe out Massoud`s Northern Alliance,
without him knowing in advance about al Qaeda`s plan to stage
the 9/11 attacks.

Northern Alliance fighters joined the United States in
the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan to topple the
Taliban, who have revived to lead a bloody insurgency in the
years since.

PTI