Former Mujahedeen: Recalling the Good War!
Funny how time changes things, perception, events, people. Even former mujahedeen fighters, those stalwart warriors with rock hard faces that predate al-Qaeda, Taliban, and just about all others, cannot stop Father Time.
These freedom fighters were back in their day, 1979-87, were in their prime years fighting the Good War for them against the Red bear of the North: the USSR.It was like tossing sticks and stones at armor tanks and jet aircraft for many years. Combat was always measured in yards in close combat where their AK-47 and RPG did take their toll.
Now, 25 years later, they are in their mid-life. No longer angry as they once were they have changed with time. Abdul Quanat is one. He was one young lion fighting in Afghanistan. He did his share of bad things to the Soviets. In 1986, he was being trained in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, by Pakistanis and CIA to fire the still, today, deady Stinger missile that the US had finally decided to supply the mujahedeen. Also near was one called, Osama bin Laden, and the leader of today's Taliban. All learning about this deadly US weapon to bring Soviet aircraft down. They practiced with dummy versions aiming at a light bulb for a month, then small groups were created armed with the Stinger. One team went to Kabul to shoot down transports, another deadly Hind helicopters. The groups walked for two days until reaching Jalalabad, where they found 12 Russian Hind-24 attack choppers. A few were approaching to land, that is when Mr. Quanat, on Sept. 25, went into history. He fired the first US Stinger destroying one attack helicopter. Other teams downed transports. When the missiles were gone, the scampered back into Pakistan for more. It was a real rush! Soon, the CIA would deliver a total of 2300 of them. The Soviets would soon begin a panic and fear after one squadron lost 13 aircraft. When the war was over, the CIA then went back to try to find the weapons before they got into the wrong hands- most were recovered but not the last 600. The Taliban still had 53. Eventually, the Soviet's did not know what was worse- the cost of the war or the Stinger making most airpower nullified as they remained grounded. In 1987, they had enough of Afghanistan and left.
And what are the old fighters doing now? Mr. Quanat is the manager of the Afghan central bank near the Khyber Pass. He enjoys Pepsi and wears bi-focals. Mr. Ghaffar, who was another member of the Stinger team, is in the Afghan parliament. Both find their lives now rather boring and dull.
They long for the Good war!
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