Bruce G. Richardson, June 22, 2003

The Afghan Who Wouldn't Fight

"Massoud sometimes used to stage sham skirmishes with the Russians to put off chances of suspicions about his activities among other Mujahideen groups"

Massoud+Hekmatyar+Pak-Arab Masters
Massoud (2nd from left) signing agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the most wanted criminal in Afghanistan, in presence of their Pakistani and Arab masters.

In 1983, when Massoud stopped fighting, the Central Intelligence Agency came to the disturbing conclusion that he had cut a deal with the Soviets. What made this particularly worrisome was that it was not the first time.

In 1981 and again in 1982, Massoud had stopped fighting, in exchange for Soviet offers of food, money and guarantees that the Red Army would leave his villages alone. This is an argument routinely enlisted by Massoud supporters to justify his war record. To carry that argument to its logical conclusion, we see that such actions prolonged the war by allowing 40th Army troops to be relieved of duty in the Panjshir and free to kill Afghans elsewhere, not to mention to facilitate the free-flow of war materiel to Soviet military units. For the entire occupational decade, Massoud remained in the service of his Russian patrons.

At that time, the Agency reckoned that there were about three hundred serious commanders in action against the Soviets. The critical factor of terrain made Massoud indispensable. His Panjshir Valley redoubt lies close to the capital and airfields where the 40th Army were based. The Soviets also realized the strategic importance of securing their vulnerable lines of supply and communication along the precipitous Salang Highway that threaded its way through the imposing Hindu Kush massive from Hairatan to Kabul. Indeed, of such importance was this safety net for the prosecution of war, 40th Army commander General Boris Gromov noted that, "Massoud could convert the area into a graveyard for the Russian troops by only throwing rocks had he chosen to do so. We simply could not survive without keeping this area open."

The CIA realized early on that geographically, Panjshir was the key. In 1983, the Central Intelligence Agency dispatched Gust Avrakotos, acting chief of the South Asia Operation Group to London, acknowledging MI6's intimate connection to Massoud and to find out why Massoud had once again stopped fighting. At this time, U.S. law prohibited government officials from traveling to Afghanistan. The CIA could not, therefore, contact Massoud directly. British SAS commandoes, however, had no such impediments and made frequent trips to Panjshir.

...US kept Massoud and his resistance at arm's length, perhaps because they were receiving weapons from Iran, with logistical aid from Russia and the Central Asian republics. According to a Human Rights Watch report on the regional weapons trade, one Iranian shipment seized in Kyrgyzstan in 1998 contained ammunition for T-55 and T-62 tanks, antitank mines, 122mm towed howitzers and ammunition, 122mm rockets for Grad multiple launch systems, 120mm mortar shells, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and small arms ammunition.
Paul Wolf,, September 14, 2003

According to Avrakotos, MI6 representatives related that Massoud complained of "receiving a disproportionate share of military hardware through the Pakistani ISI conduit," a supply system heretofore agreed upon by both the ISI and CIA, and that is why he stopped fighting. MI6 also claimed to have set up an arms pipeline for Massoud independent of the ISI. CIA Station Chief, Howard Hart, was deeply suspicious, even angered by Massoud's refusal to attack Soviet convoys on the Salang highway. He passed on his doubts to Langely. It was also of concern to the Agency that Massoud employed Soviet airborne commandos as his personal bodyguards. According to A.Fedotov, former CPSU and currently chief of the Ukrainian successor agency to the KGB, the SBU, the names of two bodyguards have been revealed, Islamutdin and Isometdin respectively.

However, Brigadier Muhammad Yousaf, who alone was in charge of weapons distribution to the Afghan resistance and renowned author of the "Bear Trap" challenges Massoud's position. He states that Hekmatyar and Massoud each received equal arms shipments of 19-20% from the U.S. funded, ISI pipeline in spite of the fact that ISI chief General Akhtar harbored the deepest suspicions about Massoud.

Akhtar profoundly resented the gushing publicity about "this Afghan who wouldn't fight." He also knew that MI6 agents masquerading as journalists were part of Massoud's propaganda machine. As a case in point, British author Sandy Gall, allows that MI6s requested that he embark on a mission to Panjshir to produce a TV documentary that would show Massoud as a guerrilla chief possessed of military and tactical genius. Gromov would later write in his memoir "Limited Contingent" that "Massoud sometimes used to stage sham skirmishes with the Russians to put off chances of suspicions about his activities among other Mujahideen groups." A fact corroborated by the head of First Department KGB, Leonid Shebarshin, in his account of the Soviet/Afghan War, "The Hand of Moscow." Shebarshin characterized the fabled Panjshir offensives as fiction.

A series of clandestine CIA teams carrying electronic intercept equipment and relatively small amounts of cash -- up to $250,000 per visit -- began to visit Massoud in the Panjshir Valley. The first formal group, code-named NALT-1, flew on one of Massoud's helicopters from Dushanbe to the Panjshir Valley late in 1997.
The Washington Post, February 23, 2004

In 1984, CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, known amongst his colleagues at the Agency as "Dr. Dirty", due to his clandestine activity around the globe, flew to Peshawar in disguise to meet with Massoud's brother behind Deans Hotel. At this meeting, Avrakotos stated that the CIA would establish a Swiss bank account for Ahmad Shah, and that a circuitous arms pipeline that would circumvent the established ISI route would also be established.The question that cries out for explanation is.why? Both MI6 and CIA were under no illusions about Massoud's contractual obligations to the Russians. What could possibly motivate two governments engaged in covert anti-Soviet operations to ignore wholesale collaboration by a major recipient of their military and economical aid?

Though seemingly illogical, could it be possible that the British were still to this day actively seeking revenge over the humiliation suffered in the nineteenth century at the hands of the Pashtun tribes? As difficult as this may be to comprehend, 19th century Afghanistan history has amply demonstrated this phobia and the retributive foreign policy trait from Whitehall. From the American perspective, one could argue that Washington did not seek a military victory in Afghanistan, indeed, Agency insiders have not only talked disparagingly about Pashtuns but have also said they would not be overly concerned if the "Afghans went on killing one another." In their cold and calculating worldview, this would diminish the chance of a "fundamentalist government" from emerging in an anticipated leadership vacuum following a cessation of hostilities. This hypothesis is currently supported by Bush administration bellicosity towards the Pashtuns. During the initial days of the U.S. invasion the CIA attempted to render the Pashtuns statistically insignificant with the publication of fabricated census reports. With Massoud at the reins of power, the U.S. reasoned, a pro-Western government would emerge. But on the question of credibility, the transparency of Massoud's so-called pro-Western orientation became clear. See newly released "Through Our Enemies Eyes.""Massoud misled the media and Western politicians about his radical anti-Western views, his intimate relationship with the Russians, as well as his misogynistic orientation for over twenty years."

Massoud joints hands with the Russian puppets

Massoud with criminal Parchami Generals
Ahmad Shah Massoud, Qasim Fahim and other commanders of Shura-e-Nezar with Parchami (Russian puppets regime) army generals Nabi Azimi, Noor-ul-Haq Ulomi, Asif Delawar and others.

In recognition of promiscuous Swiss bank accounts and cash distributions provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies to combatants in a time of war has led international jurists to seek an amendment to the Geneva Conventions. The distribution, such as provided Massoud by CIA and MI6, reportedly in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars belongs to the Afghan people and was never earmarked for Massoud's personal expenditures. Also, there is the concern that such an amorphous cash distribution to combatants in order to secure an outcome during hostilities must be perceived as "interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country." An eventuality currently codified and considered a violation of international law under the Convention.

The proposed amendment would stipulate full financial disclosure and accountability of covert and overt funds from a government entity to combatants. The original Swiss account established in 1984, for Ahmad Shah Massoud, is at the core of an ongoing rift between Fahim and Massoud's surviving brothers. Fahim claims the funds are the property of Shura-i-Nizar, while the Massouds steadfastly maintain that the money is for the sole discretion of the Massoud family to utilize as they see fit.

The current power base in Afghanistan, notably that of Ishmael Khan, Muhammad Fahim, Rashid Dostum and Burhanuddin Rabbani, have individual net worth in the hundreds of millions. In addition, each enjoys a lavish lifestyle, complete with well armed militias, the finest of automobiles, the finest in cuisine, sumptuous palaces in which to live, heated swimming pools, while the Afghan people, people they claim to represent are starving, lack potable water and shelter and or access to the most rudimentary educational opportunities and basic medical services.

It is to this terrible injustice, created by the intelligence services of Russia, the U.S., Iran, Great Britain and others that our esteemed jurists are dedicated to prevent in the future. It is a mockery of justice and an insult to ones intelligence to suggest that somehow the monsters bosses of the Northern Alliance hold legal title to these enormous sums, as if somehow they were gained through lawful endeavors. There is, however, hope, it is the fervent hope of the body of distinguished jurists that the enormous sums of ill-gained money now in the hands of those who are collectively known as the "warlords" can be foreclosed upon and returned to benefit Afghanistan and the people as a whole. World-class sociologists have stated unequivocally that closure from the horrors of war will not take place unless and until these predators are de-fanged.

Unfortunately for Afghanistan, at present the warlords are subsidized clients of Russia, the U.S., Iran, Great Britain and others.

"The CIA had pumped cash stipends as high as $200,000 a month to Massoud and his Islamic guerrilla organization, along with weapons and other supplies. Between 1989 and 1991, Schroen had personally delivered some of the cash. But the aid stopped in December 1991."
"Ghost Wars", by Steve Coll

When advised by recent travelers to Kabul of a route that threads its way out to the airport and renamed in Massoud's honor, or of the larger-than-life posters of his image that litter the cityscape, protected by strong-arm thugs, one is reminded that while in the service of the 40th Army, Ahmad Shah Massoud was unmoved by a series of intelligence reports that concluded that the Soviets were laying waste to a huge strip of land between the Pakistani border and their major garrisons and cities in Afghanistan. Villages were being bombed, irrigation canals destroyed, livestock slaughtered, crops burned, and civilians murdered, tortured and forced to flee the country. The Russian war machine had embarked on a scorched-earth policy. This will be Massoud's lasting historical legacy.

Justice perverted, Massoud's inner circle survives today, thanks to American airpower and diplomatic cover. In a cruel twist of irony, the war criminals and collaborators who were complicit in Massoud's extra-curricula activities, and those who sold out the Afghan people for rubles and dollars, now represent the current power structure in Afghanistan. In order to legitimize their hold on power, the "Panjshiri Mafia" has elevated the persona of Ahmad Shah Massoud to national hero status. While the world sleeps, anesthetized from the horrors of 25 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan by an uninformed press in tandem with Massoud's propaganda machine, the remnants of Massoud's criminal enterprises now seek absolution from their crimes against humanity by attaching themselves to their manufactured saint. Responsibility for this miscarriage, however, must also be borne by their patrons.Russia, the U.S., Iran, Britain and others who routinely employ criminals in order to secure a government or cause amenable to their dictate.

Note: In addition to publications enumerated in the text also see "Charley Wilson's War" by George Crile, Atlantic Monthly Press, N.Y., 2003

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