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.