In the first fatal green-on-blue, or insider, attack by an employee of Afghanistan’s intelligence service this year, a uniformed member of the National Directorate of Security detonated a suicide vest at a district office in Kandahar province on Saturday, killing an American soldier and a former US military officer as well as four Afghans. [For detailed information on the insider attacks, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]
The attack took place as Coalition and Afghan intelligence personnel were delivering new furniture to an NDS office in the remote Maruf district of eastern Kandahar province, according to The New York Times.
Killed in the attack were US Army Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Dario Lorenzetti, of Fort Worth, Tex., a former US military officer now serving with the US State Department in Afghanistan. The number of wounded was not reported.
According to the New York Times, the bombing also killed Ghulam Rasool, the deputy intelligence director for Kandahar province, along with two of his bodyguards and another NDS employee.
In the view of the Maruf district chief, the suicide bomber, a local man named Abdul Wali from Zirak, thought he was attacking an Afghan delegation and was unaware that Coalition members were present, the New York Times noted. A NATO official concurred, saying “[i]t was an N.D.S. attack on N.D.S., and we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
An Afghan official said, however, that the attacker, who had worked for eight years at the NDS, “knew that a delegation including coalition officials was visiting from Kandahar city,” according to Dawn. “He set himself off as he met the Afghan and coalition delegation getting off from a helicopter,” he said. Dawn also reported that the bomber had moved his wife and children to Pakistan the week before the attack.
Following the attack, a brother of one of the slain Afghans took revenge, killing the suicide bomber’s 9-year-old brother in front of his parents.
Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the NDS, denied that the attacker was an employee of the NDS, and claimed instead that the bombing “was carried out by an individual who had disguised himself in Afghan intelligence forces uniform.” As reported by Khaama Press,, Tahiri also denied that NDS officers had been involved in such attacks in the past. However, the Khaama report notes, “an Afghan intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the attack was carried out by a member of the Afghan intelligence, which was also confirmed by NATO-led coalition officials.”
Today the Afghan Interior Ministry issued a directive to police across the country to be vigilant against attempts to infiltrate Afghan security forces, ToloNews reported.
ISAF stepping up raids against insider attack planners
As insider attacks continue to spike, Coalition officials are starting to acknowledge that the Taliban are behind a larger proportion of the attacks, and ISAF has intensified its efforts against the perpetrators. Many of the attackers appear to come from the eastern Afghan provinces, a BBC reporter wrote in September, where Taliban influence is prevalent. And in early October, ISAF commanders admitted that attackers from Pakistan with links to the Taliban and its subgroup, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, were significantly involved in the attacks, the Associated Press reported.
Today ISAF announced that it had arrested a Taliban leader in Nangarhar province who “commanded Taliban fighters, and is directly associated with facilitating the movement and escape of an insider-attack shooter across Afghan borders.” According to the ISAF press release, a number of suspected insurgents were detained and multiple weapons and mortar components were seized in the raid.
On Sept. 21, ISAF captured two “insider attack planners” during a raid in the eastern province of Logar. The detained insurgents were known facilitators for the insider attacks in the province, and at the time of their capture were involved in ” were in the advanced stages of preparing for a strike against a coalition base, which included … the attempted infiltration of Afghan security forces.”
On Sept. 15, ISAF killed a green-on-blue attacker named Mahmood and “more than a dozen armed insurgents” in an airstrike in the Bar Kunar district of Kunar province. Mahmood executed the May 11 insider attack in Kunar that resulted in the death of one US soldier; two other soldiers were wounded. Mahmood fled to the Taliban, and on Aug. 7 the Taliban released a video showing him being welcomed as a hero [see Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video ‘welcoming’ rogue ANA soldiers].
And on Aug. 30, security forces arrested a Taliban fighter wanted for killing two British ISAF members in a green-on-blue attack on May 13 in southern Helmand province. He was attempting to join the Afghan National Army at the time of his capture (he was a member of the Afghan National Police when he killed the British troops).