Topics: Info on Abbey Gate bomber, U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Taliban role reversal, Afghan pilots in Tajikistan, secret CIA base now belongs to Taliban, ISIS-K attacks continue, evac stories, Central Asia, passport office, and more.
Executions of Hazaras. The Taliban are exhibiting the same atrocious behavior toward the minority groups of Afghanistan as they did during their 1996 to 2001 period of rule. Nine former members of the government security forces were extrajudicially executed after surrendering. The incident took place in Daykundi province according to a recent investigation. (Amnesty International, Oct 5, 2021).
Central Asia and the Taliban. The emergence of the Taliban as the new government in Kabul has put many of the nations on Afghanistan’s northern border on edge. A recent phone survey done in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in August and September underscores the general discomfort with the topic of Afghanistan. “How Do Central Asians View the Taliban?”, The Diplomat, October 5, 2021.
Passport Office Opens. The Kabul passport office has resumed operations. It is not taking new applications as it has thousands of pending passport applications to process already. Passports will be issued under the name of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. “Sirajuddin Haqqani’s Ministry of Interior has begun issuing Afghan passports”, FDD’s Long War Journal, October 5, 2021.
Electricity From Uzbekistan. The energy ministry of Uzbekistan says that it will continue to export power to Afghanistan despite the lack of sufficient payment for the service.
Evac Stories. Nine women relate their stories of triumph and heartbreak with the evacuation of Afghanistan. (Vogue, Sep 30, 2021).
CIA’s Afghan Fighters – Now in U.S. The Central Intelligence Agency prioritized the evacuation of Zero units and their families, even as many vulnerable U.S. employees and human rights activists were left behind. During the long conflict in Afghanistan the U.S. supported Afghan Zero units were the “ghosts of the Afghan battlefield”. Along with their CIA advisors, they were feared and virtually invisible. In the closing days of the Taliban conquest of Afghanistan these elite units continued fighting, eventually falling back on Kabul, and then the airport. Once there they helped U.S. military forces clear the airport of mobs of Afghans, secured the airport perimeter, and manned some of the entry gates. “The CIA’s Afghan Proxies, Accused of War Crimes, WIll Get a Fresh Start in the U.S.”, The Intercept, October 5, 2021. (Editorial Note: This is “The Intercept”, a pub that manages to infuse enough fact into a story to make the fiction believable and that never misses an opportunity to depict SOF and the intel community in the worst possible way).
ISIS-K Continues Attacks. The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan announced it was responsible for the Sunday bombing of a mosque in Kabul. The incident took place during a funeral service for the mother of Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid – eight Taliban fighters were killed.
Secret CIA Base Now Occupied by Taliban. A CIA compound used for over 20 years has now been examined closely by Taliban fighters. The base held the infamous ‘Salt Pit’ prison and interrogation center, ammunition bunkers, and a fake village for training Afghan elite forces supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. “Inside the CIA’s secret Kabul base, burned out and abandoned in haste”, The Guardian, October 3, 2021.
Afghan Pilots in Tajikistan. Over 140 Afghans, many of the former members of the Afghan Air Force, are being held in rural Tajikistan in a sanatorium in the mountains. One of them is a pregnant U.S.-trained pilot who has concerns for her as yet unborn baby. The group has been in Tajikistan for over two months after they flew onboard Afghan Air Force planes from Afghanistan to escape the Taliban. The Department of Defense and Department of State have been working on relocation efforts for the pilots. “Stranded at Tajik sanatorium, pregnant Afghan pilot fears for unborn baby”, Reuters, October 6, 2021.
Taliban – Role Reversal. Conducting an insurgency for decades is one thing, running a government and providing essential services to the country’s citizens is another. One Taliban fighter is now a policeman and has moved from Wardak province into Kabul to help keep the city secure from crime. “From insurgency to city beat: Taliban police learn the ropes”, Yahoo! News, October 6, 2021.
The Debate Continues. Former administration officials argue over whether keeping US troops in Afghanistan would have helped. One former U.S. ambassador stated that a force of 5,000 troops in Afghanistan would have made a big difference. Ryan Crocker said “We threw away a chance to further ensure the security of our homeland, and global security, with a very modest force there.” His comment came during testimony at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. The hearing was another opportunity for the Republicans to criticize Biden for the “frantic” final weeks of the withdrawal and for the Democrats to point to the disastrous U.S.-Taliban withdrawal agreement of February 2020 that set the stage for the fall of Afghanistan. (Military Times, Oct 5, 2021).
Verdict on US Strategy in Afghanistan. A frequent commentator on all things Afghanistan is Michael O’Hanlon. He provides us with his latest thoughts on that country by examining U.S. strategy over the past 20 years – dividing the effort into distinct phases. He summarizes with “The key challenge was in trying to rescue an Afghan society and political system that was badly broken, in the face of an insurgency that was supported by a neighboring country.” Read more in “A Preliminary Verdict on Afghanistan Strategy”, The National Interest, October 5, 2021.
ISIS-K Suicide Bomber – Abbey Gate. CNN is reporting that the Islamic State Khorasan fighter who carried out the deadly Kabul airport attack in August 2021 had been released from prison days earlier. Thirteen US service members and over hundred Afghans were killed at one of the entry points of the Kabul airport. The suicide bomber was released by the Taliban at the Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base. Several hundred ISIS-K members were housed at that prison and the Pul-e-Charkhi prison near Kabul. (CNN, Oct 6, 2021).
Photo: A Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Sailor assists evacuees from Afghanistan with retrieving their luggage after arriving at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota Aug. 27, 2021. NAVSTA Rota is currently supporting the Department of State mission to facilitate the safe departure and relocation of U.S. citizens, Special Immigration Visa recipients, and vulnerable populations from Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Owen)