Khost suicide bomber hit CIA base

According to The Washington Post, the suicide attack at Combat Outpost Chapman hit a base used by the CIA to target Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and Afghanistan:

The attack represented an audacious blow to intelligence operatives at the vanguard of U.S. counterterrorism operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing officials whose job involves plotting strikes against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups that are active on the frontier between the two nations. The facility that was targeted — Forward Operating Base Chapman — is in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, which borders North Waziristan, the Pakistani tribal area that is believed to be al-Qaeda’s home base.

U.S. sources confirmed that all the dead and injured were civilians and said they believed that most, if not all, were CIA employees or contractors. At least one Afghan civilian also was killed, the sources said.

It is unclear exactly how the assailant managed to gain access to the heavily guarded U.S.-run post, which serves as an operations and surveillance center for the CIA. The bomber struck in what one U.S. official described as the base’s fitness center.

In addition to the dead, eight people were wounded, several of them seriously, U.S. government officials said.

This explains the initial confusion in the media about the attack. I was privately skeptical about the initial reports from the outset, and suspected there was something bigger going on here. The US military seemed to have little information on the strike and was also reticent to provide additional information. The explanation that the US Embassy was present at the base didn’t make sense: why would the Embassy base such a large number of civilians in Khost, and even if there was such a large contingent in Khost, why base them at Combat Outpost Chapman and not at Forward Operating Base Salerno?

In the bigger picture, this was a major victory for the Haqqani Network. Gathering the intelligence that the CIA was operating from Chapman is no small feat. Getting the suicide bomber into the base and then detonating among a crowd of operatives would have been considered impossible until now. The covert CIA operations are likely going to negatively impacted until the security breach is detected.

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

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  • Spiker18f says:

    I operated out of FOB Chapman in 2004. W/O getting into specifics, it is not all that difficult to infil the base.
    There is a large contingent of afghan civilians and military on the base. There is also a clinic, open to local nationals. Lax security and complacency is to blame.
    The military and OGA are overly PC , and appease the locals.

  • Abheek says:

    ISI’s hand ??

  • ArneFufkin says:

    I have read accounts that the assailant was wearing the uniform of an Afghan Army Officer.

  • kp says:

    NPR reported that the bomber was dressed in Afghan Army uniform.
    There are plenty of other ways this could work out other than “PC”. Don’t let your ideology get in the way of thinking it through.
    Do CIA wear the same uniform as soldiers or not? If not then they can be identified? If this was in the chow tent do they have lunch/dinner at regular times? In that case you don’t have to be a genius you just have to get to the chow tent at the right time and get close to the guys who look like this. No extra security checks there. This narrative seems to match all reports so far.
    The interesting question is was it someone they knew (i.e. real Afghan army but working for Taliban) or an impersonator just dressed as one? In the chow tent they wouldn’t need to know him.
    Do they need ID get on base? How did they get that?
    Not only do we loose the skills of the CIA operatives (Seven more stars on the wall at Langley) they sow some confusion of folks dressed in
    But it’s a risk CIA take working from a FOB. I’m sure a replacement team is on the way.

  • steve m says:

    I just saw a report that one of the people killed was a cia base chief and a mother of 3. my thoughts and prayers are with her family and the families of the others killed. this is a major victory for the taliban but hopefully we will avenge their deaths and destroy the haqqani network with or without pakistans help! this can not go unanswered.

  • MalangJan says:

    The Haqani network(good Taliban) are responsible for these murders. They dont want Afghanistan to be at peace with itself & world. Their mentors in ISI like Gen. Hamid Gul, Gen Durrani, Kiani & Pasha etc would have happy field day. Some times I wonder why America is tolerating Pakistan Army for such long. Paki army are killing American with the help of Good Taliban in broad day light but American are doing nothing to stop it.

  • T Ruth says:

    Deep commiseration with the families of those killed by this loser.
    May this tragic event let America and the administration realise fully that the Taliban are the children students of the Pak Army, provided with a very bad, evil, education at home.
    AQ and the Taliban may be on the same page but it is the ISI that is the father, benefactor and godfather of the Taliban.
    Unfortunately America has never been very good at choosing their friends.

  • steve m says:

    just saw a report that said he was being recruited as an informant and therefore was not searched. it seems to me that this was very well planned.


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