Taliban claim insider attack at Kabul Airport that killed 3 US contractors

The Taliban claimed last evening’s attack at Kabul International Airport that killed three American contractors. The insider or green-on-blue attack, where a member of the Afghan security forces kills Coalition personnel, is the first of its kind recorded this year.

The attacker, who was dressed in an Afghan military uniform, killed the three contractors and wounded one, Major General Haq Nawaz Haqyar, the commander of Afghan police at the airport, told Pajhwok Afghan News. An Afghan was also killed in the shooting, Haqyar said. It is unclear if the Afghan who was killed was the shooter.

The US Department of Defense confirmed that three Americans and an Afghan were killed in the shooting.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muhajid claimed the attack in two statements on his Twitter account, and said it was executed by Ihsanullah, an “infiltrator … from Laghman province working inside Kabul airport.”

“The attack killed 3 American terrorists and wounded 4 others before the infiltrator was martyred by return fire,” Muhajid claimed. The tweet included the hashtag “Khaibar,” a reference to the Taliban’s offensive that was announced in May 2014. The Taliban said it will continue to launch insider attacks, as well as encourage Afghan soldiers to execute such operations.

The Taliban have devoted significant effort into attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the ranks of Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar affirmed this in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the group had “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year [2011],” and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect to the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. Omar also noted that the Taliban had created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

Overall number of insider attacks still unknown

The last known insider attack took place on Sept. 16, 2014 in the western province of Farah. In that attack, an Afghan soldier gunned down a Coalition trainer inside a military base.

The previous attack occurred on Aug. 5 at a training center in Kabul. An Afghan soldier killed a US major general and wounded 16 more military personnel, including a US brigadier general, a German general, five British troops, and at least one Afghan officer. The Taliban did not claim credit for the attack, but praised the Afghan soldier who executed it.

There were four insider attacks recorded in Afghanistan in 2014, according to The Long War Journal’s statistics. The number of reported green-on-blue attacks on Coalition personnel in Afghanistan has dropped steeply since a peak of 44 in 2012. In 2013, there were 13 such attacks. [For in-depth information, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

The decline in attacks may be due to several factors, including the continuing drawdown of Coalition personnel, reduced partnering with Afghan forces, and the adoption of heightened security measures in interactions between Coalition and Afghan forces.

However, many insider attacks remain unreported. If an attack by Afghan personnel does not result in a death or injury, and it is not reported in the press, the Coalition will not release a statement on the incident.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which was disbanded at the end of 2014, told The Long War Journal in March 2012 that “these statistics,” the number of attacks that did not result in a casualty, are “classified.”

“[A]ttacks by ANSF on Coalition Forces … either resulting in non-injury, injury or death … these stats as a whole (the total # attacks) are what is classified and not releasable,” Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, ISAF’s former Press Desk Chief, told The Long War Journal. Cummings said that ISAF is “looking to declassify this number.” The number was never declassified.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • Brian L says:

    White House spokesman were careful to note that this was not a terrorist attack, merely an “end of conflict action” by an armed insurgency…or workplace violence….


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