The Taliban claimed credit for a suicide attack outside of a US base in eastern Afghanistan that has hosted CIA operatives who are hunting al Qaeda and other jihadists in the region.
A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the main gate for Camp Chapman, a base in Khost province that used to be known as Forward Operating Base Chapman. A US military spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the assault took place and it appears casualties are among Afghan forces guarding the perimeter. No US military or civilian personnel are reported to have been killed, and the number of Afghan casualties has not been disclosed.
On Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website, the group claimed that the suicide bombing was followed up by an attack team that was able to enter the base and engage Afghan forces.
“To begin, a brave Mujahid of the martyr team slammed a van filled with explosives into the base, enabling the rest of Mujahideen to get in and engage in a deadly fighting,” the Taliban stated. This version of the operation cannot be verified at this time.
Camp Chapman is located in the heart of Haqqani Network territory. The Haqqani Network is a Taliban subgroup that administers Khost, Paktia, and Paktika provinces, and is closely allied to al Qaeda. Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of two deputy emirs of the Taliban and the group’s military commander, also serves as the operational commander of the Haqqani Network.
Chapman hosts members of the Central Intelligence Agency who are hunting al Qaeda and other allied terror groups operating in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Agencies. The base has been used to gather intelligence and direct drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda targeted the CIA at the base on Dec. 30, 2009, when Abu Dujanah al Khurasani, a longtime Internet jihadi whose real name is Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi, detonated a suicide vest on the base. The blast killed seven CIA officials and contractors, and a Jordanian intelligence officer. Khurasani had been recruited by Jordanian intelligence to provide targeting information for the US’s covert air campaign against al Qaeda’s leaders and operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He enticed the CIA with promises of being able to produce Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and then detonated a suicide vest once he was granted access to the base.
The Taliban also struck Chapman in December 2012, when a suicide bomber killed two civilians and an Afghan soldier in a suicide blast at the main gate.
Today’s suicide attack in Khost took place just three days after a Taliban suicide assault team penetrated security at the Afghan Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps base in Balkh province in the north. More than 140 Afghan soldiers were killed in that attack. Afghanistan’s minister of defense and the Army chief of staff resigned, and four Army corps commanders were dismissed today, just as US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is visiting the country.