Amrullah Saleh, the former head of the National Directorate of Security and a candidate for vice president, was wounded in an attack by jihadists in his office in Kabul today. Saleh was responsible for killing and capturing thousands of Taliban commanders and fighters during his tenure as NDS chief and during his brief stint as interior minister. There has not been a claim of responsibility for the attack.
The attack began with a car bombing outside of the office of Amrullah’s Green Trend political party, TOLONews reported. It is unclear if the car bomb was denoted remotely or if a suicide bomber triggered the explosion. Immediately after the blast, a four man team entered the office. Two were killed and two more holed up in a nearby building and battled security forces, Reuters reported.
Twenty Afghans were killed and at least 50 more wounded, including Saleh, who took shrapnel during the fighting before he was rescued.
The tactics used in today’s assassination attempt on Saleh are identical to those used by both the Taliban and the Islamic State.
Neither the Taliban nor the Islamic State’s Khorasan’s Province has claimed the attack on Saleh. The Islamic State is quick to claim its attacks, while the Taliban often denies responsibility for an attack in which a large number of civilians are killed and wounded. There are two suicide attacks that clearly targeted civilians in Kabul this month that have gone unclaimed. This increases the odds that the Taliban executed the attack, yet wants to distance itself from them.
Given’s Saleh’s history as NDS chief from 2004 to 2010, as Interior Minister from Dec. 2019 to Jan. 2019, as well as a high profile political leader and candidate for Vice President in the upcoming elections, it is likely that the Taliban would consider him to be a combatant rather than a civilian, and thus fair game.
Saleh was responsible for sending NDS agents into Pakistan to search for al Qaeda leaders. He claims he warned the Pakistanis that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Abbattobad but was rebuffed. The US killed the al Qaeda supremo in May 2011.
Saleh resigned as NDS chief in June 2010 after the Taliban attacked a peace jirga in Kandahar. After leaving the NDS, he established the Green Trend political party. He has been a vocal opponent of the Taliban and has repeatedly warned against a peace deal that would hand over the country to the predations of the Taliban.
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