The group of mujahideen are smiling however many are sporting rocket-propelled grenades on their shoulders and weapons slung round their backs.
It is a difficult glance to drag off – friendliness with a touch of risk however by hook or by crook they are managing it.
“There is not any manner we can give in to the Taliban,” they many times let us know. “We will be able to combat to the demise.”
A tender guy is status in the midst of them, dressed in a fawn-coloured conventional Afghan hat which is sitting at a jaunty perspective and he is addressing them with the comfy self belief of a practised public speaker. They hold on his each and every phrase.
There are a choice of other teams right here – together with some in inexperienced uniforms who say they are the ‘new mujihadeen recruits’ in a position to enter struggle. There are others in Afghan police uniforms. There are a selection of older males with lengthy wispy white beards who’re brandishing RPGs which glance as previous as them – in addition to younger, tall combatants status with a definite swagger which comes while you’ve a fully-stocked ammunition vest wrapped round your torso.
Because the younger orator attracts breath, an older mujahideen (Islamic fighter) close to the entrance of the group jumps in to precise his appreciate and fondness for him, fan-boy taste.
Ahmad Massoud smiles extensively, a bit of embarrassed, and touches his chest in appreciation, thanking him. He’s the bodily embodiment of his assassinated father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, the nationwide hero answerable for such a lot of vital army battles in Afghanistan.
The elder Massoud’s image is plastered on each and every different house, store and industry right here within the Panjshir Valley in northern Afghanistan. He’s the French-speaking warrior who shaped the Northern Alliance, bringing in combination other palms of mujahideen to first beat again the Soviets, however then additionally grasp the Taliban at bay.
He used to be blown up by way of two males posing as newshounds two days earlier than 9/11, cementing his place without end extra as the rustic’s martyred legend. His son used to be simplest 12 when he misplaced his father however Ahmad Massoud has grown up understanding he will have to step up at a time such at this. He appears to be like uncannily like his father.
The elder era should for sure see this enticing charismatic younger guy because the reincarnated model in their hero.
He turns to our digital camera as he is within the crowd and tells us: “They are gonna combat for democracy. They are gonna combat for the rights of the folks. They are gonna combat for the rights of ladies…and they’ll combat for lots of different values that we cherish and we like and we now have accomplished prior to now two to 3 many years…so those are the issues they’re in a position to shield.”
As we sit down in combination within the gorgeous valley lawn of his youth house, he recounts conversations along with his father which were seared on his mind ever since.
“It isn’t a call,’ he says. “It is one thing that I should do and all of us should do as a result of that is our house and we should make our stand right here. We should shield our nation. We should shield our other people. We should shield our values.”
He is lived within the shadow of his father all his existence. And as a political candidate he now reveals himself the objective of demise threats and suicide assault makes an attempt.
The day earlier than our go back and forth to Panjshir, he talks about his safety entourage heading off every other tried assault.
It is a part of the material of his existence. He’s surrounded by way of closely armed guards and his convoy thru Kabul as much as the north is furiously rapid along with his safety element, putting in a decoy automobile to check out to give protection to their price.
“For me, on a daily basis that I get up, I need to do one thing just right,” Mr Massoud tells us. “I need to do one thing to truly carry trade. This is the reason for my existence. And I will not see myself dwelling conveniently someplace, understanding that I may do one thing, even one thing small on this land, on this nation to assist the individuals who truly deserve toughen and assist.”
“It’s not that I am looking to act like my father. That is the which means of my existence. I do not take into accounts the duration of the existence or how lengthy I’ll are living. However how I’ll are living is maximum vital. What’s a extra sacred reason than protecting the folks, the blameless, protecting the civilians, protecting democracy and peoples’ rights, human rights, girls’s rights, freedom of speech and freedom? What is extra sacred than protecting that? If it takes my existence? Smartly, then I lived an excessively significant existence. That is the function of my existence. So that’s what drives me.”
He used to be skilled in London however says he at all times supposed returning to paintings for his nation – and now he worries this can be a a very powerful junction in Afghanistan’s tortured historical past.
With experiences of the Afghan Nationwide Military leaving behind positions, and giving up territory to the Taliban frequently with no combat, he is a part of a bunch looking to rally a countrywide mobilisation of the other armed forces across the nation beneath one anti-Taliban umbrella.
Like his father he is not satisfied the Taliban need peace. And if the crowd dominates the rustic once more, he warns the global neighborhood this won’t merely stay a inner nationwide downside. The emergence of ISIS and the continuing lifestyles of Al Qaeda within the nation along the emboldened Taliban are a mix which might galvanize the cave in of the federal government, adopted by way of a humanitarian disaster and terror assaults now not simply confined to Afghanistan and the area however unfold the world over.
“So the before everything, a very powerful factor is to truly assist and now not permit Afghanistan’s govt to fall,” he says. “And secondly, to truly in finding non violent techniques and non violent way to restart the peace negotiations in earnest.
“And whilst we’re doing it, we wish to assist Afghanistan’s defense force and in addition the rebellion teams and resistant teams so they may be able to be the deterrent pressure which is needed to carry again the Taliban to the desk.”
The younger Massoud comes throughout as deeply earnest and pushed. The duty forward which he has set himself is gigantic. And he assists in keeping on emphasising, there is not any selection, now not for him.
“I blame American citizens greater than any individual,” he says. “To be very transparent, I recognize what they’ve accomplished. We’re very thankful as Afghans. However they have been rushed and immature of their announcement and the deal they made with the Taliban, (to drag out troops) gave them the morale spice up they wanted.
“So I blame them for the mess presently – the American citizens greater than any individual, however then the Afghan management, now not simply now, however for the previous two decades, that they have been not able to truly determine a functioning state or even give you the staple items that the Afghan other people want.
“The Taliban have now not modified. They are not looking for peace. They don’t need to determine a simply and just right govt, a reasonable one. They need to determine an extremist govt, a merciless and violent govt.
“I do know the ideology. It is vitally unhealthy as a result of it is going to revive the figures which can be roughly in an inactive place presently,” he mentioned speaking in regards to the re-emergence of IS in Afghanistan.
“The ones figures, the ones folks round Europe, they are going to change into lively once more and they are going to be and are very unhealthy to Europe.
“And that is one thing that we wish to truly believe. And we (Afghans) are the primary line of defence. We’re protecting Europe, we’re protecting the area. And Afghans are combating now not only for themselves, however for everybody.”