The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack in southern Afghanistan that killed four Afghan intelligence officers and two ISAF personnel. Today’s bombing is the second this week that targeted the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, in the south.
The Taliban suicide bomber targeted the Afghan and Coalition personnel just inside the first gate of the provincial NDS headquarters in Kandahar’s Maruf district, according to TOLONews. Four NDS personnel, an International Security Assistance Force soldier, and an ISAF civilian were killed in the blast. Three NDS officers were also wounded in the blast.
ISAF confirmed in a press release that “one coalition forces servicemember and one coalition forces civilian died following an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan today.” The nationalities of the two Westerners killed in the attack were not disclosed.
The Taliban claimed credit for today’s suicide attack in a statement released at their website, Voice of Jihad. The Taliban identified the suicide bomber as “Abdul Jabbar from Kandahar,” and said he targeted “foreign invaders along with the hireling deputy provincial intelligence chief” as they “arrived at the district center in 2 helicopters and were walking into a nearby base.” The Taliban claimed the suicide bomber was “wearing an explosives vest and riding an explosive-laden motorbike.”
Today’s suicide attack is the second in southern Afghanistan in six days that targeted the National Directorate of Security. On Oct. 8, a Taliban suicide bomber killed two NDS officers in an attack at the unit’s provincial headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand; the attack also wounded another NDS officer, two policemen, and 12 civilians.
Mullah Dadullah Front likely carried out suicide attacks
The two suicide attacks against the NDS in Kandahar and Helmand were likely carried out by the Mullah Dadullah Front, a powerful wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by none other than Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban’s top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura. In December 2010, Coalition and Afghan special operations troops captured a senior Mullah Dadullah Front financier and weapons facilitator.
Zakir and other Taliban leaders operate from the Pakistani border city of Chaman in Baluchistan, as the location shields them from US and NATO operations. The Taliban maintain a command and control center in Chaman, but the Pakistani military and intelligence services have refused to move against the Taliban there.
The Mullah Dadullah Front operates largely in the southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan, and is considered the most effective and dangerous Taliban group in the region. The group has been active in attempting to sabotage negotiations between the Afghan government and lower-level Taliban leaders and fighters in the south.
The Taliban subgroup has executed numerous complex attacks, suicide assaults, and assassinations in the region. In mid-May, the Mullah Dadullah Front claimed credit for the assassination of a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council in Kabul.
US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that the Mullah Dadullah Front was involved in the Sept. 14 suicide assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand. In that complex attack, a 15-man Taliban team penetrated the perimeter at the airbase, destroyed six USMC Harriers and damaged two more, and killed the Harrier squadron commander and a sergeant.
Zakir is also responsible for a purge of Taliban leaders who have conducted negotiations with the Afghan government, including Mohammad Ismail, the former Deputy Military Council Chairman for the Taliban’s Quetta Shura.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.