Two soldiers have been reported as missing in Kabul, while Afghan and Coalition forces are actively hunting a Taliban network that was set up to conduct attacks in the capital and in surrounding regions.
In a press release issued today, the International Security Assistance Force reported the soldiers have been missing out of contact with their unit since Friday.
“Two International Security Assistance Force servicemembers departed their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle on Friday afternoon and did not return,” ISAF stated in a press release. “The unit dispatched vehicles and rotary-winged assets to search for them and their vehicle, and the search is ongoing.”
ISAF did not say whether the missing US soldiers were captured by the Taliban. But told Reuters that they had captured three soldiers but one soldier “had died.”
For more than a year, another soldier, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, has been in Taliban captivity. He was captured by the Haqqani Network in June 2009 after leaving his small combat outpost in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. In early April of this year, the Taliban released a propaganda tape showing Bergdahl.
The recent disappearance of the two soldiers in Kabul has coincided with an increased tempo of operations by ISAF and Afghan forces against the Kabul Attack Network, which is composed of members of the Haqqani Network and the conventional Taliban and is aided by the Hizb-i-Islami, or HIG.
Since July 14, Afghan and Coalition forces have captured four Taliban facilitators and a “Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin/Taliban-associated attack planner” during four separate raids in Kabul and the surrounding areas, according to International Security Assistance Force press releases.
The Kabul Attack Network sought unsuccessfully to disrupt last week’s Kabul Conference, and the network continues to conduct attacks in the area. On July 18, the Kabul Attack Network was behind two suicide attacks. One attack killed four Afghan civilians in a suicide bombing near a medical clinic in Kabul. The other suicide attack, which failed, took place outside Bagram in Parwan province; the attacker was from Paktika province, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network. Two months ago, the terror network executed the May 18 suicide attack in Kabul that killed a US colonel and a Canadian colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two US soldiers, and 12 Afghan civilians.
Taliban commanders Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad lead the Kabul Attack Network, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The terror group is supported by the Haqqani Network, which plays a major role in the Taliban’s operations in and around Kabul.
“The Haqqani Network is deeply entrenched in the Kabul Attack Network specifically with the facilitation of weapons and fighters into the area south of Kabul in Logar and Wardak provinces,” an ISAF public affairs official told The Long War Journal.
Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well.
“The intelligence service of our neighboring country has definitely had its role in equipping and training of this group,” Saeed Ansari, the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, said on May 24.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have been documented as backing the Taliban and the Haqqani Network faction. The Quetta Shura, the Taliban’s executive council, is based in Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan, while the Haqqani Network operates from Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. [See LWJ report “Pakistan’s Jihad” and Threat Matrix report “Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban” for additional information on the ISI’s complicity in attacks in Afghanistan and the region.]
• ISAF Servicemembers missing, ISAF press release
• Taliban release video of captive US soldier, The Long War Journal
• Kabul Attack Network-associated Attack Planner Captured in Kabul, ISAF press release
• Afghan and Coalition Force Captures Taliban Facilitator in Kabul, ISAF press release
• Insurgents Captured, Killed in Kabul, Kandahar and Zabul Provinces, ISAF press release
• IJC Operational Update, July 15, ISAF press release
• Haqqani Network executed Kabul suicide attack, The Long War Journal
• Toll in Kabul Suicide Attack Included U.S. and Canadian Officers, The New York Times
• Taliban suicide bomber kills 18 in Kabul, The Long War Journal
• Pakistan’s Jihad, The Long War Journal
• Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban, Threat Matrix
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