Taliban-linked terrorists carried out a coordinated wave of dramatic attacks on high-profile targets across Afghanistan on Sunday ahead of a planned NATO-Afghan offensive. At the same time, Islamist terrorists broke into a jail in Pakistan, freeing nearly 400 prisoners, including 20 terrorists labeled as “very dangerous.” The sophistication of the attacks worries NATO and Afghan officials.
Seven attacks occurred simultaneously at about 1:45 PM. The fighting lasted for over 18 hours in Kabul and the capitals of Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar provinces. Several embassies, police stations, a NATO base, the Kabul Star Hotel, an airport and the parliament building all came under attack. The targets were chosen based on prominence instead of creating maximum casualties. The Islamist enemy’s goal was to demonstrate that no target is safe and to show off its ability to conduct complicated operations.
The attacks are also meant to discourage the Afghans and the American public. About 66% of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan and 70% believe that the Afghan population does not support the U.S. military presence. Only 22% believe the Afghans support American involvement.
One captured participant in the attacks admitted that he is part of the Haqqani network. Shortly before the attacks, the authorities arrested four members of the Haqqani network. The cell revealed that they were in the midst of carrying out a plan to kill one of Afghanistan’s vice presidents.
The alleged involvement of the Haqqani network points directly to Pakistani complicity. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, bluntly accuses the Pakistani ISI intelligence service of being behind sophisticated attacks in September. Fed up with Pakistan’s duplicity, he forcefully stated, “The Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.” Outcry followed and the White House tried to soften his remarks. He wouldn’t allow it. “I phrased it the way I wanted it to be phrased,” Mullen said.
A Taliban spokesman named Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for his group and downplayed the role of the Haqqanis. He said that reports that the Haqqani network orchestrated the attacks are a part of “a baseless plot from the West, who wants to show that we are separate.” Indeed, the U.S. has been trying to lure the Taliban into a peace deal that would sever its ties to the Haqqani network and Al-Qaeda. Vice President Joe Biden even made the astonishing statement that the “Taliban is not our enemy, per se.”
Mujahid asserts that the Taliban meticulously planned the wave of attacks for two months without being foiled. He said that members even put together models of their targets so they could rehearse their attacks, secretly stored weapons and had help from agents within the Afghan security forces. He boasted that the Taliban’s planned spring offensive has not yet begun.
On the same day, 100-200 militants stormed a prison in Bannu, Pakistan and freed 384 prisoners. Among those released were 20 terrorists deemed “very dangerous,” including one who tried to kill former Pakistani President Musharraf. The circumstances surrounding the break-in strongly indicate that top Pakistani officials were involved. The fighting went on for two hours but no soldiers or police arrived. The huge group of armed militants was not stopped by the border guards at the tribal areas and passed police checkpoints and military installations on their way to the prison.
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