In Afghanistan, A Rebel Leader's Legacy Ten years ago, the most famous rebel leader in Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was killed by al-Qaida as the opening salvo for the Sept. 11 attacks. Revered by followers, Massoud had led the fight against the Taliban.
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In Afghanistan, Assessing A Rebel Leader's Legacy

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In Afghanistan, Assessing A Rebel Leader's Legacy

In Afghanistan, Assessing A Rebel Leader's Legacy

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

These days, posters of Massoud still adorn shops in northern Afghanistan and today his admirers held a huge commemoration, but as NPR's Quil Lawrence reports, Massoud's legacy has not lived up to the legend.

QUIL LAWRENCE: If the people of the Panjshir River Valley are the proudest in Afghanistan, it's because of Ahmad Shah Massoud, who defended their region over three decades of war. They called him the Lion of the Panjshir.

SAID AKBAR: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: His companion, Malik Jan, says 10 years ago, rumors spread that Commander Massoud had been wounded in an al-Qaida attack.

MALIK JAN: (Through Translator) As soon as I heard that he was injured, I knew he'd been killed because all the trees were all of a sudden - they looked very sad. The mountains, the rocks, everything was crying. There was a black cloud over the mountains for a couple of days.

LAWRENCE: Up the valley, a windy hilltop mausoleum commands a view over the Panjshir. Every weekend, Afghans come to visit Massoud's white marble tomb. Women, men and children come and not just from Massoud's Tajik ethnic group.

AMRULLAH SALEH: Commander Massoud was fighting for a pluralistic Afghanistan.

LAWRENCE: Amrullah Saleh was a close advisor to Massoud and later served as the Afghan government's intelligence chief. He believes if Massoud had lived he would have united the country and Afghanistan would look much different now.

SALEH: He would have articulated a vision for Afghanistan so the people would have understood the direction of the country. That narrative is no longer now in the country. It is blurred. It is blurred by the wrong policies of President Karzai. There is confusion, massive confusion.

LAWRENCE: The criticism of Massoud gets more pointed if you ask around the west Kabul neighborhoods that saw the fury of Massoud's Tajik troops during the civil war.

ALI MAHMAD: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Mahmad says Ahmad Shah Massoud was a warlord just like all the others.

MAHMAD: (Through Translator) I hate all of them because they have never done anything for the national interest. They've always looked, you know, to fill their own pockets.

LAWRENCE: That's a sore point with former foot soldiers like Said Akbar, who points up the Panjshir River to where Massoud's modest house still stands.

AKBAR: (Through Translator) Massoud's home is just only two blocks away from here. You saw that it's not a fancy house. Look at his friends today. Those who fought with him have now hundreds of homes in Kabul, making money. It's become a money-making business for them.

LAWRENCE: Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Kabul.

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