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MIxTRAC: A Week of Terror in Afghanistan

MIxTRAC
 

The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.

A Week of Terror in Afghanistan

Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) Suicide Bombing at Entrance of Government Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry (MRRD) in the Dar al-Aman area of PD6, Kabul, Afghanistan (06/11/18)

On 11 June 2018, at 01:00pm local time, at least one suicide bomber approached the entrance of the Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry in Kabul’s PD6 detonating his vest as employees were leaving work for lunch. Afghan health officials estimate the casualty rate at 12 dead and at least 31 wounded.

Unlike the previous two ISK Kabul attacks—the first on the Afghan Interior Ministry on 30 May 2018 and the second (suicide attack) on an Islamic Council of Elders (Ulema) meeting on 04 June—the MRRD was not as heavily fortified. Indeed, the ISK has proven that no matter what security measures are in place inside the nation’s capital, all protected areas are still vulnerable to ISK attacks. The group has claimed 13 attacks in Afghanistan’s capital since 2018, and this bombing marked the third high-profile attack in Kabul since the start of Ramadan 2018.

In typical fashion, Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency called the attack “Inghimasi” indicating this was a special forces operation. It is worth noting that the age of the attacker in his IS image appears much older than the usual age of ISK fighters. The ISK cells in Kabul are known for recruiting well-educated and young locals, who know the city well.

The image below is an ammo vest that was found on the MRRD attacker, showing an IS flag on it.

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“Amaq Agency: An Islamic State martyred candidate fired his explosive vest at the entrance to the building of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development in the ‘Dar al-Aman’ area of District 6 in Kabul.”

Suicide Attack & Armed Assault on Provincial Education Department Building in PD2, Jalalabad, Afghanistan (06/11/18)

On 11 June 2018, at 9:50am local time, four armed gunmen attacked the Education Department Building in Jalalabad, Nangarhar. In typical “Inghimasi” style, the assault began with a suicide bombing followed by three gunmen storming the building. According to the Afghan police, only a 10-minute firefight ensued in which all three gunmen were killed. If true, this would indicate that the fighters were not as skilled as typical ISK Inghimasi forces, however it is likely that the attack was nevertheless carried out by the Islamic State Khurasan. 

Not only has the IEA/Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujhaid, distanced his group from the Jalalabad attack on Twitter, but also on 05 June 2018, ISK threatened girl’s schools to close in Nagarhar Province as protection against impending airstrikes from “enemy forces.” As a result, more than 80 girls’ schools in Nangarhar announced closure and the postponing of final exams due to the ongoing threat from ISK.

Since the start of Ramadan 2018, Afghanistan has been hit harder by the Islamic State—per their claims for external operations outside ash Sham—more than any other nation in the world, with a staggering 34 claims in Afghanistan alone.

These attacks have come after 10 May 2018, when Taliban/IEA announced that they would halt operations against Afghan forces for the three days that approach the celebration of the end of Ramadan Eid al-Fitr.

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Islamic State Khurasan (ISK): VBIED Suicide Attack on Gathering of Afghan Forces & Taliban/IEA at Eid al-Fitr in Rodat District, Jalalabad, Afghanistan (06/16/18)

On 16 June 2018, at 03:00pm local time, a suicide bomber detonated a car near the governor’s compound in Rodat roughly 25 km from Jalalabad city, killing at least 36 and wounding another 45 people celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

The following day both Amaq and Nahir claimed “Killing/Wounding 100 Security Forces & Taliban Fighters in Suicide Bombing in Jalalabad.”

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IEA/Taliban declared last week that a 3-day cease fire would take effect for Eid. As such, images circulated among ISK supporters on Telegram purportedly of IEA and Taliban celebrating Eid together. This has been a clear attempt by ISK supporters to discredit the Taliban as “Nationalist” and not true believers in the global jihadi cause. If the following claim is taken at face value, then Taliban and Afghan forces did in fact celebrate Eid together, at least in Jalalabad.

Suicide Attack Outside the Nangarhar Provincial Governor´s Office in PD1, Jalalabad, Afghanistan (06/17/18)

The suicide attack occurred while Hayatullah Hayat, the governor of Nangarhar, was meeting Taliban/IEA leaders who were visiting the province as part of the unprecedented Eid ceasefire, which is ending at midnight on 17 June 2018. Details are scant on the exact tactics used for the bombing, but based on the images following the incident, the suicide operation took place in broad daylight in a busy urban “diplomatic quarter” of Jalalabad’s PD1. At least 18 people were killed and another 49 wounded.

This bombing marked the 35th attack in Jalalabad since the start of 2018. All, barring today at the time of this writing, were claimed by the Islamic State Khurasan (ISK). It is likely that the ISK is behind this suicide bombing as well, not only because of the location but also because the Taliban have until midnight left on the ceasefire agreement—one that they have honoured thus far. The day prior, President Ashraf Ghani offered to extend the truce with the Taliban/IEA, however this offer was declined.

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The above has been compiled by Ryan J. Anderson, an MA student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, specializing in Intelligence and International Affairs. He is a Junior Research Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS), a research analyst at the International Counter-Terrorism Youth Network (ICTYN), and was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), Queen’s University. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanandrson

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