Open Letter to Americans of Good Will
Your nation is immense. Your nation is rich. Your nation is powerful, and beautiful in many respects. Unless fosled by the illusions of your dreams and myths, you cannot bear to ignore all truth of what caused this drama of which you are now the victims. When the eleventh of September ranks among the most disastrous days of your history, it seems strange and worrying that another event, - the murder of Commandant Massoud, - did not attract, - with a few very rare exceptions,- any attention by your media. At the hour of your riposte, you risk to stir up, in the Muslim world, a burning hatred. A few fighters, in the shadows and this very hatred, are waiting for your mistakes to commit again and again other acts of terror.
To defeat without perishing, one has to add to strength, intelligence, cleverness, and subtlety. Think as a man of action, act as a man of thought, take your time and know everything. Thought shall not exclude any piece of knowledge, even if discomforting, above all, do not oversimplify. If your response misses the target, who is hidden since a few days ago, you will spread the evil that some of your services, have, already sparked on those grounds of intolerance, ignorance, fundamentalism and fanaticism without knowing where it would lead. Then, may God help you! And all of us with you...
Before your media exclusively concentrated on the terrible tragedy that plunges your society into mourning, on Sunday September the 9th, in a valley of North-Eastern Afghanistan, another attack, suicidal as well, was committed against Ahmad Shah Massoud, historical figure of Afghanistan that you ignored for reasons many of us still fail to understand. Do we have to explain to you how much this man was worth, who lost his life, on his dear Afghanistan ground, the charismatic leader of an obstinate resistance against the Talibans? Do we have to specify that, once he became the feared opponent of the Arabs and Pakistanis supporting the Talibans, he suffered the same fate as every American victim? He was not innocent like the victims of the attacks committed on your territory, but he was fighting for a freedom of which you know the value, and for his culture. Free Afghan, moderate Muslim, man of peace, fighter of the first hour, Massoud earned the right to figure on top of the list of the victims of this terrorism without morals. His murder happened before the suicide attacks that hurt you and this is probably no coincidence. But why isn't there any room for him in your American eyes, in your thoughts, in your hearts? Do we have to tell you that Massoud was this hero of the mountains who fought back and defeated the soviet army so deviled by you military? Do we have to tell you that he never ceased to warn you against the dangers that have just victimized you?
His murderers were not Afghans but of Arabic origins. Carrying stolen Belgian passports, they came posing as journalists. According to a French journalist who met them, ignoring all of their dark intentions, they were calm, seemed educated, did not fit the illuminated stereotype at all. Yet they were as fanatics as the hijackers who turned your planes against your world of wealth and power. They were well chosen for a precise mission, well thought-out, carefully planned and prepared for a long time. They were willing to die for a cause: destroying all those who do not belong to their universe of wahhabite Islam. The explosives were hidden in their video camera. In their eyes was the death of Massoud, a Muslim himself nevertheless.
This 9th of September no American network is speaking about, the last moments of Massoud dedicated to let the world at large hear about his fight against intolerance. So, in an office as large as a closet of the World Trade Center, there was a devastating deflagration, recorded by no camera. There as well were dreadful shredded bodies: those of the two criminals, of Massoud, of a guard and of one of his close counselors, Massoud Ralili, a lucid man and friend from the time of the fights against the soviets. The link between this suicide attack and those perpetrated, three days later, in New-York City and Washington DC, is obvious. Ignoring it reverts to silencing part of the causes that led to the present situation. On the 11th of September, your media quickly designated as number one suspect of the attacks against your nation Ossama Bin Laden, terrorist from Saudi Arabia, friend of the Talibans, already accused in 1998 of the deadly attacks on your embassies in Nairodi (Kenya) and Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania, a enemy who decidedly, possesses a bloody power, embodying the Devil himself. It is true that he is a billionaire and as you know money well placed can buy everything one wants: skills, human complicity, even lives and, doubtlessly, with the proper price: death ... I can not believe that you think that he alone is against you. Ossama Bin Laden is an icon. During the last years, journalists found him in the city of Kandahar. Your intelligence services could have executed him. Why didn't they do it? Behind this devilish icon exists a reality of hatred complicity involving many other Arab fanatics, a few criminal Talibans and many Pakistani military men directly compromised in the fall, craziness and destruction of a free and independent Afghanistan.
Your Nation just suffered attacks thought unbelievable on its own territory. It doesn't know how to react, feels groggy, crossed with tensions, with sadness, and with vengeful feelings. I wonder however if the virtual world you are flirting with more and more often isn't backfiring on you, so great are the boldness and the harm of the aggression. While you networks broadcast report upon report, repeating the most spectacular explosion sequences, the most moving testimonies, comments of all kind can be heard. Never were mentioned Massoud nor the fight of Afghans seeking peace and freedom. Why? Why are there so few people among you that dare to remember that your intelligence services played with the fire that burnt you? Why didn't you lend an ear to those who spoke to you about Afghanistan with accuracy? By believing self invulnerability one eventually gets weaker. Learning from his mistakes, that's what Massoud was accomplishing. It's up to you not to fail drawing upon experience.
>From Paris, such a tiny dot on the map of the world where your are so powerful, I dare join those who remind you that your intelligence services, whom you hope will put light on the terrorist networks, seem in so many respects suspect. Their implication in the Machiavellian games of Afghanistan's past today has consequences that should not disappear under the eraser of forgetfulness. Please don't see in this accusation another manifestation of anti-Americanism among countless others. It's nothing like that. I sincerely love America and what hurts you makes me sad. But loving Afghanistan as well, I have, personally, a field experience and some fragments of truth that prevent me from holding my tongue.
>From knowing and following Massoud throughout his fights, - first against the Soviets, then against the Talibans and their supporters- I konw that his heart was the determination of just Man. Why has America ignored him so much, just as she hasn't hear his warnings concerning the dangers his enemies cast over the world? Cruel, sad, and dramatic acknowledgment: your dead are here, as a result of your own blindness.
When Massoud should objectively have became your ally in the fight against Muslim terrorism, he just succumbed from his wounds; murdered by the very people your services helped and who hate you, and us, so much. But Massoud's men live, and you have to help them.
I love America but I don't understand your so frequent ignorance of the world beyond your borders. Your networks who advertise their special news programs like blockbusters' trailers are frightening. Don't they risk to imprison you in a fictitions reality? Generous, brave, standing together, your population, aching from its open wound, is ready to go to war, forgetting Vietnam that had so many victims and resolved nothing, the Gulf that masked the reality of the true tragedies, Somalia that solved nothing, surgical strikes that made stains and murders... Going to war is maybe not the most efficient solution to fight an enemy that will always escape you if you do not know him as much as he has known you. The poor Afghans are living in war for more than 20 years, they do not have to pay for a handful of madmen that your shadowy men fed with weapons and dollars. Facts must be looked at straight, and that statement repeated so as not to be forgetten: for years, your CIA supported the most fundamentalist Afghans, giving birth to monsters now uncontrollable. Large numbers of people foreign to Afghanistan (Algerians, Arabs from the Emirates, Palestinians, Saudi Arabs, Sudaneses...) came to train for guerilla warfare for years. Choosing the most Muslims among them and seeing them as the most efficient opponents of the Soviets, was a limited and wicked bet. The Westerners who knew the ground, most of them French, did what they could to make your specialists understand that. In vain! The one who fought the Russians the most efficiently was Massoud, not those who received the American support! Again in 1992, Massoud wasthe one who managed to take Kabul from the hands of the communist Afghans, three years after the retreat of the Soviet troops. Alas for the Afghan people, in 1992, nobody came to disarm a population who knew only to wage war or suffer it. Massoud did not take the power, he gone it to a President who humiliated the Patchuns today Talibans. Five weeks after the arrival of Massoud's men in the Afghan capital, Gulbudine Hekmathyar, power thirsty, jealous of Massoud, prepared to do anything and supported by your CIA, ordere to bomb the town bombed.
How could your intelligence services make such a mistake? How and why did they choose to listen to the Pakistanis, whose obsession had always been to stand up to India and to secure their strategical position by controlling Afghanistan? Didn't they see, your specialists who don't lack intelligence, didn't they perceive in their skillful objective analysis that there would be, some day, a danger wouldn¹t? The interest for you Americans, for us Westerners, have been to support Massoud who kept asking for help, who wanted elections, who wanted to disarm the population, who, in fact, was talking of peace after his mistakes in Kabul? No, you ignored this man. You even helped, in a second phase, the Talibans that the Pakistanis presented as the only ones able to eventually bring peace back in Afghanistan. One of your oil companies, allied with another from Saudi Arabia (Unocal and Delta) even started to believe in the possibility to build a gas pipeline to carry, thro ugh Afghanistan, gas from Turkmenistan to the harbors of Pakistan. The dollars received by the Talibans were then used to buy out Mujahideen commanders to make them give back their weapons, agreed, but also to wage war against Massoud and the Northern Alliance. The fact that these Talibans were surrounded by fanatic Arabs and Pakistani counselors never, obviously, disturbed you intelligence services.
That the extreme madness of the Talibans existed and didn't balk at showing off its radical measures to the face of the world didn't, apparently, make you feel like examining the material that would shape the future. Strange contempt for human reality. Your services used people as pawns on a chessboard. They bought out those that could be bought, the law-less. But human pastry isn't always as shapeable as one could believe. The reasons why men live aren't the same for everybody. Your services sparked a fire of which you're now the victims. Right now, the situation is serious: when your intelligence services have to designate the guilty, don't choose the Talion Law to destroy those you understood so little and you are still caricaturing in your media. Be careful, I beg you: the Afghan population, in all the richness of its ethnic groups and cultures, must not pay for the crimes it has been suffering for so long. Its resistance must be supported. In Afghanistan, the criminal leaders are few, your services may know them better than us since they have been interlocutors for a long time. Ossama Bin Laden, guilty or scapegoat, left to hide and will rejoice to see your multiple mistakes, to better light the fire of revolt against our Western world. But he is far from being alone, you know that. Because Afghanistan isn't the only place in the world where the fighters of hatred are preparing.
By murdering Massoud, your enemies made even less clear the Afghan reality. For pity's sake, never forget how happy you were to see the Afghan peasants face, with courage and dignity, the Soviet army. Your President Reagan called them the fighters of freedom. A democracy like yours needs lucidity to keep on being a reality. You must seek in yourselves the reasons for the hatred of which you're now the victims... We need too as well since our politicians didn't manage to help Massoud either when he came, a few months ago, to ask Paris and Strasbourg home of the European Parliament, to put pressure on Pakistan. May God help you from your reprisals. Don't bring fire in a bloodless garden where your representatives gave birth to scrubs, be precise, wise and generous. So things go for Nations who wish to remain great and rich and powerful and beautiful and fair... And use those who know.
Christophe de Ponfilly, filmaker, journalist, author of ³Massoud the Afghan².
Interscoop: 01 40 46 92 92 (France)
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