An Afghan National Policeman looks at an artist’s rendering of the finished tomb of Massoud, the Lion of Panjsher, May 17, in Panjsher province, Afghanistan. The tomb is currently under construction.
An Afghan soldier stands guard at the tomb of Massoud, the Lion of Panjsher, May 17, in Panjsher province, Afghanistan. A ceremony was held by the U.S. Marine Corps to honor Massoud who was killed two days before the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Spc. Stoney M. Archambault, an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, stands guard as fellow service members, within Combined Joint Task Force 82, and Afghan officials and guests enjoy refreshments following a ceremony honoring Massoud, the Lion of Panjsher, in Afghanistan, May 17. The tomb of Massoud, which is currently under construction, can be seen in the background. Archambault is a member of Combined Joint Task Force-82 and is a native of Raleigh, N.C.
U.S. service members, Afghan officials and guests walk to the tomb of Massoud, the Lion of Panjsher, May 17, in Panjsher province, Afghanistan. The U.S. Marine Corps honored Massoud with an engraved tablet during a ceremony there.
PANJSHIR, Afghanistan – The U.S. Marine Corps honored the “Lion of Panjshir,” May 17, at the tomb that guards his body in the Panjshir Valley.
The Lion of Panjshir, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was honored by Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commanding general of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command and the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force with a tablet inscribed in three languages during a ceremony in the tomb.
“We Americans stand beside you today as guests brought together by fate and history,” said Mattis.
He went on to say that Americans fighting in Afghanistan are here as part of Massoud’s vision for Afghanistan.
Mussoud’s vision was a place where the Afghan people could live in peace, said Wali Massoud, the son of the “Lion of Panjshir.”
The people of Afghanistan will “do the utmost to prevail in his vision,” he added.
The tablet presented by the Marines reads as follows in Dari, Pashto and English; “The enemies thought that by killing my father, the hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, they could kill his dreams. They did not know that Massoud was more than just a mortal. He was an idea, a vision.”
According to Mattis, “(Massoud was) a leader who could fight like a lion and keep compassion for his people.”
The Lion was a resistance fighter born in the Panjshir Valley. He was part of the Mujahedeen, which fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and was a leader in the “Northern Alliance,” which fought against the Taliban in the 1990’s. He was also an ally of the U.S.
On the field of battle, neither the Soviets nor the Taliban could kill the “Lion of Panjshir.” A deceptive plot by al-Qaida killed the “Hero of Afghanistan.”
Two days before the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Lion was killed by two suicide bombers posing as journalists.
“Massoud made the ultimate sacrifice for his people [days] before thousands of people…lost their lives in New York City,” Mattis noted.
Massoud “died at the hand of terror,” said Wali. “(However), his thoughts and ideas are with us.”
The tomb, which houses the fallen leader, is located on a plateau in the Panjshir Valley overlooking a river. It is still under construction by the Afghan people.
Story and Photos By U.S. Army Sgt. Jim Wilt
Combined Joint Task Force-82