four down — how many more to go?

The bad guys hit a home run today by whacking the number 2 at 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 .   Seems damn un Islamic to me to whack a guy who is donating that much cash to a Mosque.

Note the date time stamp - this is seconds after the BBIED went off and was taken by a friend who was in the city to remove and destroy old ordinance
Note the date time stamp - this is seconds after the BBIED went off and was taken by a friend who was in the city to remove and destroy old ordinance

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 do not know if Afghan security forces fired into the large crowd which has gathered or if they were 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.   Whacking the number 2 at NDS with that powerful a bomb without causing too many collateral casualties amongst the civilians is a good operation – no doubt about that.

Here is what happens when a BBIED gets to you before the door on your armored SUV is shut - Dr. Abdullah may have had a chance if the armored truck was locked up.
Here is what happens when a BBIED gets to you before the door on your armored SUV is shut - Dr. Abdullah may have had a chance if the armored truck was locked up.

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.   I have been studying guerrilla warfare since I was 17 (if you count the canon of   “I was there deep deep in the shit” paperbacks on Vietnam as studying guerrilla warfare…have you seen how much a paperback copy of The Five Fingers goes for on Ebay?   I should have held on to those stupid tales of daring do.) and can tell you this current stripping away of senior security officials appears to be a trend.   That would be a negative trend for those of us on the Afghan peoples side of this conflict.   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 the 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.

This Night Letter was posted around Jalalabad last week
This Night Letter was posted around Jalalabad last week

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 more educated and   capable than other Pashtun peoples.   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 which says he doesn’t need a lot of troops he needs troops who can live off the FOB’s, eat kabob’s and rice and live with the Afghans. Modern western armies are not organized to provide these kinds of people and modern western democracies won’t support that kind of nonsense anyway.     America has elected a President who has not one single clue about the military, or projecting force, or anything remotely connected to exercising executive control over an organization as large and powerful as the American national security apparatus.   Not trying to pick a fight here folks but that is just the way it is these days.   So what to do?   I have not a clue but I’ll say this; I would not want to be anywhere else – this place is about to get very interesting.

4 Replies to “four down — how many more to go?”

  1. Thanks babatim for the update. We are hearing things are heating up in Kandahar as well. Personally, I don’t think our president or the American people have the fortitude to see this through, even if they believed in the cause. Time will tell. Another wasted opportunity for the Afghani people.

  2. i was very sorry to hear about dr. abdulluh – he was one of the good guys, and if we had more like him we’d be sorted.

    why slag on obama, though? so far he’s done everything quite reasonably. he’s appointed a general who looks set to actually start doing stuff we should have been doing years and years ago, and so far is not backing down from this one bit, in spite of the grumblings from the less-informed parts of his base.

    if the american people aren’t convinced about the necessity of this, let’s convince em. we don’t want central asia to become like west africa + takfiri fanatics + nukes. we can’t afford to let that happen. an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you think the ounce is expensive, wait till you see the pound…

  3. We have to live vicariously through you, Amy and Shembot right now. Yes, you’re right. It’s getting more and more interesting, but also the violence seems to be on the rise.

    As far as the girls go, their learning to use computers and education is crucial for the future of the country. However, the extreme factions will always fight against this using violence. Sadly, I think many more will die, be maimed or humiliated into submission before things get safer. Their struggle isn’t going to be over this decade. In many ways, they are the bravest of the bunch.

    As far as Obama goes, I agree. My fear is that he will do a lot of posturing, and in the end, his supporters will prevail because he’s doesn’t have the guts to move. While I think he may placate them by saying lots of frilly words, they do nothing to secure the safety of anyone a world away.

    FYI, I’ll be at Blog World Expo looking for editing work. Next year, the FabLab should consider letting me set up a booth for them there and drumming up some donations.
    As usual, excellent post.

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