Warning: the images in the video above are graphic; the Taliban are seen executing civilians during the Feb. 19 attack at a bank in Jalalabad. Footage from TOLOnews.
Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security has linked the recent suicide attack at
a bank in eastern Afghanistan as well as other deadly strikes in the country to Taliban and Haqqani Network operatives based inside Pakistan.
The NDS captured one of the “masterminds” of the Feb. 19 suicide assault at a bank in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, as well as several teenage boys who were recruited to carry out suicide attacks in other areas of Afghanistan. The NDS held a press conference in Kabul on Feb. 26 and displayed several of those captured.
Lutfullha Mashal, spokesman for the NDS, said that the Jalalabad suicide assault was planned months in advance from within Pakistan, “in cooperation with Pakistani Taliban.” In the Jalalabad attack, 42 people, nearly all of them civilians, were killed.
“The planning of this incident-all of it-took place in Pakistan. It took them four months to plan the attack from inside Pakistan,” Mashal said. “The person who took part on the attack got training in weapons, bomb making, and other tactics in Pakistan.”
Portions of the Jalalabad bank attack were captured on security cameras in the bank. A clean-shaven Taliban fighter dressed in an Afghan police uniform was seen indiscriminately gunning down civilians in the bank as he ordered them to move into a different room. The footage has caused shockwaves in the ranks of the Taliban, which has had to admit it is now investigating the murders.
Mashal said one of the attackers was captured after he ran out of ammunition, and the “mastermind” of the attack was also captured.
The Jalalabad attack bore the hallmarks of the November 2008 terror assault on the India financial capital of Mumbai, which was carried out by the Pakistan-based and Pakistan-supported Lashkar-e-Taiba. In both the Mumbai and Jalalabad attacks, the terror assault teams were being directed by the planners via telephone.
The Taliban fighter who was captured in Jalalabad “made a phone call to the planners of the attack,” Mashal said. “The person he called was the mastermind behind the operation.”
The NDS did not directly link the Jalalabad attack to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, but the terror group is known to operate in Nangarhar and several other of Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, including, Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and Kabul.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba has been linked to numerous complex attacks in eastern Afghanistan and in Kabul. Its fighters have worked with the Haqqani Network, run by Siraj Haqqani, to carry out attacks on Indian and other targets in Kabul. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is backed by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services, and operates a Hezbollah-like state within a state inside Pakistan.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba also cooperates with the Kabul Attack Network, a network of terrorist groups that work together to facilitate and execute attacks inside the capital and in the surrounding areas. The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in 2010.
Taliban press teenage suicide bombers to attack Afghan
The NDS spokesman also displayed three young men who are said to have been coerced by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan to serve as suicide bombers. Mashal said the Taliban “recruited very young people 15-16 years old. They do it by force and threats.” Young suicide bombers for the Taliban are often told they will be targeting foreign forces. but end up being directed at Afghan security forces and civilians.
The first young suicide bomber who spoke to the press was Akhtar Nawaz, a 14-year-old Pakistani boy who was recruited by the Haqqani Network and sent to a madrassa, or religious school.
“The Taliban took me, and said I had to go to get a religious education,” Nawaz. “Because some infidels are coming and I had to go kill them. I was scared to leave. They threatened me.”
Nawaz “was sent to Khost province to attack the ANP [Afghan Nation Police], but he was captured by NDS,” Mashal said.
The Haqqani Network operates in the open in Pakistan’s tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Kurram, and runs madrassa where young Taliban fighters are trained and indoctrinated.
The second young suicide bomber shown by the NDS was Nasir Ghami, a 19-year-old Afghan from Kandahar. Ghami “was recruited four months ago” and “was promised paradise in return, if he attacked Spin Boldak,” Mashal said. “The Taliban threatened to kill his parents if he did not execute the attack. ”
“They [the Taliban] told me if I do this, I will go straight to heaven and that everyone
would appreciate it,” Ghami told the press, explaining that his family was suffering from financial hardships. “They promised to support my family financially…. On the day of the attack, we had a meeting. They told me I would go to heaven because Americans are
inside my land.”
The third young would-be suicide bomber who spoke to the press was Yasir, a 19-year-old Pakistani who was recruited in Pakistan by a Taliban leader named Zainulabudin and then transferred to Afghanistan to carry out an attack in the eastern province of Laghman.
“When I was recruited, they told me to do jihad to fight against foreign and American forces,” Yasir said. He spent several nights at a hotel before he was captured by NDS forces.
“I was brainwashed,” he said.