Afghan intel kills 5 members of Haqqani Network suicide cell in Kabul

The National Directorate of Security killed five members of the al Qaeda and Pakistan-linked Haqqani Network during a raid in the capital last night that targeted a suicide assault cell. The NDS has linked the Haqqani Network cell to Pakistan.

The Afghan forces launched a midnight raid against the Haqqani Network safe house located in the Pul-i-Charkhi area of Kabul. The operation sparked a five-hour-long gunfight between the NDS agents and the Haqqani cell. Five fighters were killed during the clash, and two more escaped.

The NDS seized three explosives-laden vehicles, suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine-guns, according to AFP. The Haqqani cell was planning to take over “a towering building in the Shar-i-Naw neighborhood,” Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

Additionally, “target maps and telephone numbers recovered from the compound had numbers for the Haqqani Network based outside Afghanistan,” Reuters reported.

The Taliban issued a statement on Voice of Jihad, their propaganda website, denying the raid took place and claiming that the NDS announcement “is yet another maneuver of the intelligence apparatus which is trying to portray itself as active, aware and vigilant.”

The Haqqani Network, a major Taliban subgroup, is based in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan, and operates in eastern, southeastern, and central Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network is a close ally of al Qaeda and is supported by Pakistan’s military and powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. Nine senior Haqqani Network leaders are on the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda.

The Haqqani Network has utilized what the US military in the past has referred to as the Kabul Attack Network to carry out a series of high-profile attacks in the Afghan capital. 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. 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. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network. In the US military files that were released by WikiLeaks, Taj Mir Jawad is identified as a key Haqqani Network leader.

The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy.

The terror group collaborated with elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service in at least one of these attacks. In the past, American intelligence agencies confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISI’s direct involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing. [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.]

Last summer and fall, the US and the Afghan government linked the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s intelligence service to the June 2010 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in June 2011 and the attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters in September. Shortly after the attack, Admiral Michael Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Haqqani Network of being one of several “[e]xtremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan.”

During several of these attacks, the suicide assault teams have seized high-rise buildings in Kabul and have opened fire on nearby installations. The suicide assault teams often occupied these buildings for hours before being killed by Afghan forces.

The Taliban and Haqqani Network have launched 10 high-profile operations in Kabul over the past year. The targets have been ISAF headquarters, Afghan government and security installations, hotels, members of the Afghan High Peace Council and government, and even a mosque.

Major Taliban attacks in Kabul since June 2011:

June 22, 2012 – A suicide assault team took control of the Spoghmai Hotel.

May 13, 2012 – The Mullah Dadullah Front assassinated a senior member of Afghan High Peace Council member.

May 2, 2012 – A suicide assault team targeted a civilian logistics compound.

April 22, 2012 – Taliban assault teams targeted seven different locations in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, which hosts foreign embassies, an ISAF base, and other sensitive installations. The attack was launched in conjunction with attacks in three other provinces.

Dec. 6, 2011 – A suicide bomber killed more than 50 Shia worshippers outside a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Sept. 20, 2011 – A suicide bomber killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president of Afghanistan.

Sept. 13, 2011 – The Taliban launched a complex daylight attack on the US embassy and NATO headquarters, as well as Afghan police stations, in a secured area of Kabul.

July 17, 2011 – Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province who had become one of President Karzai’s top advisers, and Mohammad Hashim Watanwal, a parliamentarian from Uruzgan, were among several people who were killed in a complex attack.

June 28, 2011 – A Haqqani Network suicide assault team stormed the Intercontinental Hotel, killing 11 civilians and two policemen.

June 18, 2011 – A suicide assault team killed nine people during an assault on a police station near the finance ministry.

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


  • Charles says:

    usually those kabul attack network cells strike
    before we hear about them.
    from the look of it, they’re getting good intel. probably someone inside the Haqqani Network who got dissed.
    too bad two escaped. but they’ll likely lead intel to other players.

  • David says:

    These are the kind of operations that need to be taking place if Afghanistan has any hope of existing as a country for much longer. The ISAF cannot do the legwork and infiltration required to obtain the kind of leads that result in intelligence on insurgent cells. Nobody is going to talk to the white guy. Nobody is going to talk to the local who is working with the white guy.
    At some point, locals have to work with other locals who genuinely care about having a country that is not threatened by the Taliban. From what little I’ve gleaned here and from other sources is that those people are primarily in the north. That is probably why they were able to achieve this win in Kabul. The south is pretty much lost, given the ethnic makeup of the locals and the Taliban.

  • John says:

    I hope this gives the Afghani intel confidence & starts building a tradition of winning so they get more aggressive & proactive & grind the Haqqani & the Taliban into the dust.
    Not holding my breath but we”ll see.

  • Jeff Edelman says:

    Looks like the upcoming al qaeda/taliban media event got canceled.

  • Eric says:

    It is reassuring to see the haqqanis gettting rolled up like this. After their last big show, the building they shot from wasn’t tall enough, and the ISAF put so much airpower over the situation, the real threat died off quickly in the attack on the ISAFHQ and US Embassy. That much airpower, they went in a deal through the IRGC for some MANPADS, and tried to get PD on a building tall enough to target rotary air elements from. You could predict they would be on the move to coopt a building, and that’s how predictably they fell to competent intel.
    Gut-ache material, resuming payments to Pakistan to get the route open, and the budget for another major shot at Kabul’s institutions suddenly and coincidentally arises. We halt payments to Pakistan after they blow a proxy attack on the US. They halt shipments to twist us right back, using the pretext of outrage over how we finished a fight that their boys started. But it freakin’ works! And we resume payments, and these clowns are right back to making another attack spectacle.
    Does not matter who wins the US presidency, the Pakis are looking at an economic wall come 2Q13. We will not wait until we have withdrawn all NATO boots before The West puts its collective boot to the Pakistanis. They busted their credibility by lying to the world in the light of day for the world media to witness the public disproof of. Containment C2 will start with them. China needs to pay attention to this, because their official protest over bank sanctioning is openly reeking of dishonesty over a thing the world can be shown (and in due time will be shown) in due process disclosure of financial investigative evidence, not even classified stuff. Lying when YOU would believe the lie based on the limits of your own intelligence, and then getting publically exsposed and busted for it in front of the whole world, because someone ELSE with far more intelligence than YOU captured vivid proof of what you did. Lying like that is held to ridicule, and rightly so. Shocking to see that sort of mentally defective thing coming from a national government. Pakistan lookied pretty ludacris doing it over their ISI supporting proxy terror, and China is posing for it with a bank sanction in the foreground as we speak. This big power transition may play to an empty house if China becomes the UNAPOLEGETIC LIAR to the rest of the world.
    Few things can be looked at with certainty when dealing with mentally short actors, but the free world that has staked its future on global trade will most certainly begin to quarantine dishonest entities from the international trade and banking orbits, with an accelerating effectiveness.
    China has lots of noodles, but nowhere close to the innovative power to break out on top in a game of chances with the truth over the western world. Taken as individuals the chinese are everything we are, but under the crime-syndicate infrastructure of a communist governance, they cannot out-think the other guys. They will need to escape their enslavement before they can become a real threat to information dominance.
    Freakin’ low-lifes.


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