The first step to 9/11 happened 2 days before in Afghanistan on September 9, 2001. NPR described it as “a team of al-Qaida agents carried out an assassination that was the first step in their plan leading to the Sept. 11 attacks.” A group of Al Qaeda suicide bombers posing as a news crew entered the house of Ahmad Shah Massoud the leader of the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan or Northern Alliance and detonated explosives that they had hidden on them and their equipment killing Massoud. Le Monde reported, “that killers of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, the main opponent of the Taliban regime, assassinated by two false journalists, on the orders of Osama bin Laden, two days before September 11, 2001.”
The false news crew had claimed to be Belgian and interviewed several Afghanistan leaders including Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.
The fake journalist had pushed hard to gain an interview with Massoud. They stated that they had to have the interview by September 10, 2001, or they would leave without interviewing him.
This was an important victory for the Taliban 20 years ago, by removing Massoud they weakened the last major resistance to their control of Afghanistan. Massoud was a talented guerrilla commander with more than 20 years of experience fighting and defeating superior forces.
Massoud’s stronghold was Panjshir River Valley. It was an area that mostly maintained its independence through the Russian-backed Communist Government and was the last area that held out against the Taliban. On September 6, 2021, the Taliban claimed to be in control of Panjshir province.
The assassination of Massoud was a major news story on September 10, 2001. He had become known as the leader of the forces resisting the Taliban. At that time the Taliban were known for their draconian oppression. In areas that they controlled, girls were prevented from attending school, women were beaten for not being properly covered, and in March of 2001, they had destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan (two hundred feet tall Buddhist statues from around the seventh century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following the horrific attack on September 11, 2001, the story of the assassination was largely forgotten.