Wire Service
2 minute read
11 Sep 2021
9:30 am

The US ‘made a mess by coming here’, says retired Afghan government employee


“They had sought an excuse to come to Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters patrol along a street in Kabul on August 17, 2021. Photo for illustration: Wakil KOHSAR / AFP

When hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Centre in the United States, Afghans were still reeling from their own al-Qaeda tragedy.

Militants from the group had two days earlier assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud – the resistance icon who repelled both the Soviet military and the Taliban from his native Panjshir Valley.

As Afghans grappled with his death, events were unfolding in the United States that were to dramatically change the course of their country’s future.

But for some, the significance of the incident passed them by.

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“That evening I listened to the news. There was talk of an attack in America,” Abdul Rahman, a retired government employee who was in his 20s at the time, said.

“I didn’t care because there was always talk of attacks and war on the radio,” he said.

Graphic of 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, by Costa Makola.

In the coming days, however, as Afghans learnt that al-Qaeda militants hiding in their own backyard had masterminded the attacks and their Taliban rulers were blamed for sheltering the group, many realised their world was about to be transformed.

“I did not think America would attack Afghanistan in revenge,” said Abdul Rahman. “I thought America was very far away.”

Abdul Samad, a librarian in Kandahar, remembers seeing crowds gather around a newspaper stand, the pages covered with images of the twin towers attack.

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“It was two days after the incident,” he said. It was, however, the beginning of an “unacceptable occupation”.

“They had sought an excuse to come to Afghanistan.

“It was an excuse to occupy this land.”

When the Taliban refused to give up al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the US moved in overthrowing the hardline regime which had held power since 1996 in a matter of weeks.

But Qiyamuddin, a locksmith from Kandahar, said any hope he had of the American-led invasion healing decades of war and conflict in Afghanistan quickly evaporated.

“They made a mess by coming here,” he said.

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