In December 2001, anti-Taliban Afghan fighters watch explosions from U.S. bombings in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)
Opinion by Ahmad Massoud
August 18, 2021 at 11:26 a.m. EDT
Ahmad Massoud is the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan.
In 1998, when I was 9 years old, my father, the mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, gathered his soldiers in a cave in the Panjshir Valley of northern Afghanistan. They sat and listened as my father’s friend, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, addressed them. “When you fight for your freedom,” Lévy said, “you fight also for our freedom.”
My father never forgot this as he fought against the Taliban regime. Up until the moment he was assassinated on Sept. 9, 2001, at the behest of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, he was fighting for the fate of Afghanistan but also for the West.
Now this common struggle is more essential than ever in these dark, tense hours for my homeland.
I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban. We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father’s time, because we knew this day might come.
We also have the weapons carried by the Afghans who, over the past 72 hours, have responded to my appeal to join the resistance in Panjshir. We have soldiers from the Afghan regular army who were disgusted by the surrender of their commanders and are now making their way to the hills of Panjshir with their equipment. Former members of the Afghan Special Forces have also joined our struggle.
But that is not enough. If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will of course face staunch resistance from us. The flag of the National Resistance Front will fly over every position that they attempt to take, as the National United Front flag flew 20 years ago. Yet we know that our military forces and logistics will not be sufficient. They will be rapidly depleted unless our friends in the West can find a way to supply us without delay.
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The United States and its allies have left the battlefield, but America can still be a “great arsenal of democracy,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt said when coming to the aid of the beleaguered British before the U.S. entry into World War II.
To that end, I entreat Afghanistan’s friends in the West to intercede for us in Washington and in New York, with Congress and with the Biden administration. Intercede for us in London, where I completed my studies, and in Paris, where my father’s memory was honored this spring by the naming of a pathway for him in the Champs-Élysées gardens.
Know that millions of Afghans share your values. We have fought for so long to have an open society, one where girls could become doctors, our press could report freely, our young people could dance and listen to music or attend soccer matches in the stadiums that were once used by the Taliban for public executions — and may soon be again.
The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again.
No matter what happens, my mujahideen fighters and I will defend Panjshir as the last bastion of Afghan freedom. Our morale is intact. We know from experience what awaits us.
But we need more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies.
America and its democratic allies do not just have the fight against terrorism in common with Afghans. We now have a long history made up of shared ideals and struggles. There is still much that you can do to aid the cause of freedom. You are our only remaining hope.