Raids against al Qaeda and allied groups in Afghanistan – 2013. Special operations forces launched 42 raids in 2013 between Jan. 1 and the beginning of June, when ISAF ended its operational reporting. Raids against al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba alone took place in Ghazni, Nangarhar, Kunar, and Nuristan. Click link to view in a larger map.
In today’s designation of two Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders as well as the identification of additional aliases for the terror group, the US government disclosed an interesting piece of information: Lashkar-e-Taiba executed an attack in western Afghanistan as recently as late May. From the State Department designation:
More recently, LeT was responsible for the May 23, 2014 attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan.
Gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Indian consulate in western Afghanistan’s Herat province on Friday, an assault that injured no diplomatic staff, police said. Indian diplomats said there had been a threat against its diplomats in Afghanistan, but gave no other details.
The three gunmen opened fire on the consulate from a nearby home, provincial police chief Abdul Sami Qatra said. Police killed two of the three gunmen, though one continued to fire on security forces trying to secure the area, Qatra said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Afghanistan is experiencing a rise in insurgent attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said a deployment of their own police at the consulate held off the assault until Afghan forces arrived. He said all Indians at the consulate were safe.
Now, take a look at the map above, which documents the special operations raids by Coalition forces against al Qaeda and its allies, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, that were reported in ISAF press releases from the beginning of January 2013 until June 2013, when ISAF stopped issuing the reports. Note that not a single raid was reported in Herat city or even remotely close.
Now, take a look at the maps showing raids between 2007 and 2012, published in this LWJ report, ISAF raids against al Qaeda and allies in Afghanistan 2007-2013. Again, note that there were no raids against LeT, al Qaeda, IMU, etc., in Herat during those years.
This doesn’t mean LeT or al Qaeda or other foreign terrorist groups weren’t operating in Herat during those years. It just means that if raids in Herat and the surrounding areas occurred, ISAF didn’t issue any reports on them.
The maps published at LWJ in late May that detail ISAF’s raids are merely a subset of what we know about al Qaeda, LeT, IMU, etc., operations in Afghanistan. Those maps show what ISAF chose to report in its daily operational press releases. Our sources say there were many more raids that went unreported. Additionally, the maps do not detail the enemy’s own operations.
State’s designation reminds us that al Qaeda, LeT, IMU, and allied groups continue to operate in Afghanistan despite the reduction of reporting on their activities.