The Taliban continues to maintain its innocence in the Jan. 10 bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that killed 12 people, including five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates. In what looks to be an act of desperation to distance itself from the attack, the jihadist group has now issued three separate statements of denial of involvement.
In its first statement, a brief two sentence denial attributed to spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban maintained its innocence and blamed the bombing on an “enemy internal dispute,” or a power struggle within the Afghan government.
The Taliban spokesman felt compelled to issue a second, more lengthy statement on Jan. 14. Ahmadi again accused the Afghan government of covering for the real perpetrators and attempting to “create a wedge between the Islamic Emirate and United Arab Emirates, that had nationals present at the site of the incident, with such a rumor.”
“The Islamic Emirate had good relations with the United Arab Emirates in the past and still seeks good relations with it,” Ahmadi argued. “It shall never carry out attacks against their nationals and officials when they arrive to extend aid to our countrymen and neither is it the policy of the Islamic Emirate to target relief agencies and workers.”
He then went on to claim that it was impossible for the Taliban to have executed the attack because “the transfer of explosives into such a secure location is nearly impossible” and that it would have killed the chief of police if it had conducted the bombing.
However, Ahmadi’s reasons for why the Taliban couldn’t be responsible are demonstrably false. The Taliban has attacked numerous “relief agencies and workers” throughout the country over the past 15 years. The Taliban has also proven to be quite adept at penetrating secured locations and detonating bombs.
Yesterday, the Taliban issued a third denial, in the form of an unsigned statement published on Voice of Jihad. The Jan. 18 statement rehashed the previous two denials. The Taliban again blamed the Afghan government and intelligence service for the attack and said that “access to such sensitive and secure place is impossible for the Islamic Emirate.”
At the end, the Taliban provided some insight on why it issued three press releases denying involvement in the Kandahar bombing. It said “still wants good relations with them [the UAE],” and then encouraged all countries to continue sending aid to Afghanistan.
“[W]e welcome the legitimate humanitarian assistance of the Islamic and other countries with the people of Afghanistan,” the statement concluded. “We would like to assure the Islamic countries that we are ready to provide security and facilities for your welfare works, aimed at improving the life of the miserable Afghan people and at implementing and reconstructing national projects in the country. The concerned commissions of the Islamic Emirate are well prepared for facilitation and coordination as regards your (humanitarian) activities.”
As noted on FDD’s Threat Matrix on Jan. 11, it is highly unlikely that the bombing was executed without at the bare minimum, the knowledge and support of the Taliban. The killing of the five UAE diplomats may have been unintentional, and if so, the Taliban is likely trying to dig itself out of a hole in order to maintain relations with the UAE.