The bad guys hit a home run today by whacking the number the deputy commander of the Nangarhar NDS. The NDS is the National Directorate of Security and they are the best of what is currently available in the Afghan Security Forces. The number 2, Dr. Abdullah is an old Jihadi Commander from Laghman Province who fought the Soviets as Masooud’s chief of security before continuing the fight against the Taliban. He was reportedly at the central Mosque for Mitharlam City (the capitol of Lagham Province) to fork over a ton of family dough to finance a major addition to that mosque. Seems damn un-Islamic to me to whack a guy who is donating that much cash to a Mosque in that Mosque.
Killed along with Dr. Abdullah was a Mr. Imadudin, Head of the Laghman Provincial Council along with 22 other people (54 more were wounded.) The press is reporting that this was caused by a vehicle borne IED but that is not correct. The bomber was wearing a suicide vest and forced his way through the crowd to detonate his rig after Dr Abdullah had entered his vehicle but before the guards closed the door. That is a damn near perfect strike which is not the norm for suicide bombers in Afghanistan. My sources tell me that there was a lot of small arms fire after the incident and at this point we suspect it was the Afghan security forces firing in the air as a method of crowd control.
Here is the best information we have on how this attack went down: Dr. Abdullah had stopped outside his SUV to disperse cash to some disabled people who had approached him asking for help. After handing out some cash he entered his vehicle and the bomber, wearing a burka, approached with a letter for him. He was in the car with the door open when the bomber handed him the letter and detonated himself. This is a plausible explanation but anyone close enough to see this happen is probably dead so it could be bazaar rumor or the police coming up with a story that puts their security in a better light. There is little doubt that the BBIED (body borne IED) wore a disguise to help get him close to Abdullah and either a burka or a NDS uniform would be about the only ones I can think of which would work.
Dr. Abdullah was a very high value target so he had a large number of armed troops acting as a personal security detail (PSD) and they were the majority of the fatal casualties.
Dr. Abdullah and Mr. Imadudin join the Jani Khel district of Paktya Chief of Police and a senior CT (counter terrorism) commander in Khost as well as many more minor security officials in being “martyred” within the last six days. In the counterinsurgency (COIN) fight the insurgents look to strip away the government security apparatus when they feel confident in their ability to take the initiative and hold ground formally controlled by the officials they are knocking off. These kind of operations also allow the Taliban to portray themselves as brave warriors who strike with precision and minimize collateral damage. Ouch! Good thing they are as bad at IO as they are at shooting rifles or we’d have a world of problems sustaining our efforts here.
Here is the latest IO campaign from the eastern region Taliban – a professionally printed night letter which is so stupid school children giggle when they read it.
Here is the English translation:
We are kindly requesting and begging all the Muslims to immediately stop sending female members of their families to Shirzai Stadium on Wednesday days any more, Because we are all Muslims and such activities are prohibited in Islam whatever is happening inside the stadium. We are requesting you that you have already forgotten the Pashtunwali and courage but don’t forget Islam.
You don’t know what is going on inside but we are monitoring the activities closely, we are Muslims that’s why we are writing you this letter that we are ready be martyred because we don’t want disorder in the country. We are doing this just for Islam because we are Muslims and prior warning is important.
After this announcement you have few days if any one obey this will be good for him and if not he will be responsible for his own death, we swear to Allah that those who will not obey this will face severe consequences,
Each Muslim will swear to Allah that he will distribute this message to others as well.
We think this is referring to a Ministry of Woman’s Affairs training class which is teaching local teenage girls how to use computers. Jalalabad is the capitol of Nangarhar Province and the people here pride themselves on being educated. Nobody wants to live under the yoke of a bunch of illiterate, viscous, stupid puritans but there is a growing segment of the Pashtun population which will tolerate the Taliban because the central government has completely and totally failed them. Add to this all the problems with the election – remembering that I wrote 3 months ago that Afghanistan is no more capable of holding honest, open elections than the state of Illinois – and what we have now is the makings of another perfect storm.
The force behind the gathering storm clouds is the most fickle force in the world….American public opinion. It is getting harder and harder to explain what exactly it is we are hoping to accomplish by staying here just as it is getting harder and harder for the military to explain exactly how putting tens of thousands of troops behind the wire on large FOB’s is a plan which will accomplish anything productive. Here is what I think –von Clausewitz had it wrong about war – it should be politics by other means but it is not because there is too much emotional, cultural, historical, and psychological baggage tied up in it. George Will published an article today advocating an immediate withdraw from Afghanistan. He was immediately censored in the press but he is making an argument which is hard to refute.
There are no easy answers in Afghanistan. Gen McChrystal is coming out with an assessment that says he doesn’t need a lot of troops but he does need troops who can live off the FOB’s, eat kabob’s and rice and live with the Afghans. Modern western armies are not trained or organized to provide that kind of support. We once could and did in places as diverse as Haiti, El Salvador and China but that was when we deployed by ship and it took months to get on station and we were not capable of flying people all over the world. If McChrystal really wants on the ground embedded mentoring he needs to hire guys like us.