A Taliban suicide assault team killed five Afghan policemen in an attack on a police headquarters in the eastern province of Nangarhar today. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
The suicide assault team targeted the Quick Reaction Force headquarters in the provincial capital of Jalalabad early in the morning. The attack began as a suicide bomber, identified by the Taliban as “Naqibullah,” rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the main gate of the QRF headquarters. The blast breached the gate and allowed seven other heavily armed Taliban fighters to enter the compound. The Taliban fighters were said to be “wearing uniforms similar to those worn by the US-led NATO Coalition,” according to TOLONews.
Three of the Taliban fighters are said to have detonated their vests, while the other four engaged the police for more than an hour before being killed in the firefight. Eight Taliban fighters and five policemen were killed, and seven civilians were wounded during the attack.
The Taliban took credit for the attack on their website, Voice of Jihad, and claimed that 40 “puppet” Afghan security personnel and 15 ISAF soldiers were killed. ISAF has not reported any casualties. The Taliban, who routinely inflate the casualties of NATO and Afghan forces killed or wounded in their operations, often refer to Afghans who work with the Coalition as “puppets.”
The Taliban routinely carry out suicide assaults, or “storming operations,” on ISAF and Afghan bases. The last such attack in Nangarhar took place on Dec. 2, 2012, when a suicide assault team wearing US military uniforms attacked Forward Operating Base Fenty, a large airbase in the province. Nine Taliban fighters, three Afghan security guards, and four civilians were killed in the attack.
Taliban leadership in eastern Afghanistan
The Peshawar Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s four major commands, directs activities in the eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Nuristan, and Kunar, as well as in northern Afghanistan. Sheikh Mohammed Aminullah is thought to currently lead the Peshawar Shura. Aminullah, who is also known as Fazeel-a-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al Peshwari, replaced Abdul Latif Mansur sometime in early 2011.
Aminullah is closely tied to al Qaeda. According to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, which added Aminullah to its list in 2009, he runs the Ganj Madrassa, or religious school, which he has used to recruit and provide support for al Qaeda. Aminullah has also furnished suicide vests to al Qaeda and Taliban suicide bombers, and paid the families of the terror groups’ so-called martyrs.
Three of the Taliban’s four regional councils are now run by leaders who are closely linked to al Qaeda [for more information on the Taliban’s Quetta and regional shuras, see LWJ report, The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders].
A Taliban group known as the Tora Bora Military Front operates in Nangarhar and has been behind a series of deadly attacks in the province. The Tora Bora Military Front is led by Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis. The father was leader of the Hizb-i-Islami Khalis, and was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996. Coalition special operations forces targeted Hizb-i-Islami Khalis leaders in Nangarhar at least two times in 2011.
Pakistan detained Mujahid in Peshawar in June 2009. Prior to his detention, Muhajid served as the Taliban’s shadow governor of Nangarhar.
Mujahid was inexplicably released from Pakistani custody last year. On Feb. 8, 2011, Mujahid spoke at the funeral of Awal Gul, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was captured by US forces in 2002 and died at the facility of natural causes on Feb. 1, 2011. Gul was a Taliban commander in Nangarhar province who had allegedly been entrusted by Osama bin Laden with $100,000 to aid al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan in late 2001. [See LWJ report, Tora Bora Military Front commander speaks at funeral of former Gitmo detainee.]
Nangarhar is a strategic province for both the Taliban and the Coalition. The province borders the Pakistani tribal agency of Khyber, where the Lashkar-e-Islam and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are active. The majority of NATO’s supplies pass through Khyber and Nangarhar before reaching Kabul and points beyond.
8 bombers, 5 police killed in Jalalabad attack, Pajhwok Afghan News
Jalalabad clashes ended with all 8 bombers killed, Ariana News