Country Report on Terrorism 2012 - Chapter 2 - Afghanistan

Overview: Though the primary responsibility for security in Afghanistan is transitioning from U.S. and international forces to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the United States is committed to continued political, diplomatic, and economic engagement in Afghanistan as a strategic partner. The United States fully supports Afghan efforts to professionalize and modernize the security forces to take ownership of the security and counterterrorism efforts. The United States continued its role as a facilitator in improving Afghanistan’s relations with its regional partners, fostering democracy, reintegration, and economic development.

In 2012, the United States and others in the international community provided training and resource assistance to Afghanistan, including democratic institution building, humanitarian relief and assistance, capacity building, security needs, counter-narcotic programs, and infrastructure projects.

The Government of Afghanistan’s response to the spate of insider attacks has led directly to an increased focus on the vetting and training of security force personnel. This has led to a more professional force.

2012 Terrorist Attacks: In 2012, insurgents conducted some of the largest vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks since 2001, targeting Provincial Reconstruction Teams, large Coalition Forces (CF) bases, and Afghan government buildings, mostly in eastern Afghanistan. The number of insider attacks increased significantly compared to 2011, though actions taken by ISAF and ANSF in response resulted in a significant decrease in these attacks in the latter half of the year. Insurgents across Afghanistan used a variety of tactics to target Afghan security personnel and CF in major cities and rural areas, seeking to expand their territorial influence and control. In major cities, these attacks were well-coordinated, complex attacks to garner media attention while they targeted the ANSF in rural areas. Insurgents carried out several targeted assassinations of Afghan leadership. As in previous years, a greater number of attacks occurred during the summer months. This year, however there were three high-profile attacks in December compared with one in 2011. Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Kunar represented the most dangerous provinces for Afghan security personnel and CF.

High-profile attacks included:

• On February 25, an Afghan Ministry of Interior officer conducted an insider attack that killed two American military personnel embedded inside the Ministry of Interior compound in Kabul City in Kabul Province.

• On April 15, 14 insurgents embarked on an attack in three separate areas of Kabul City. Insurgents occupied three high-rise buildings in Kabul City in Kabul Province, and attacked the U.S. Embassy, several foreign embassies, Camp Warehouse, and Parliament. Insurgents simultaneously conducted attacks in Jalalabad City in Nangarhar Province against the Provincial Reconstruction Team, in Pul-e Alam District in Logar Province against Afghan government buildings, and in Gardez in Paktiya Province against Afghan government and security locations. The attacks resulted in massive casualties, with at least 50 killed and hundreds wounded in the four provinces.

• On May 2, insurgents conducted an attack consisting of a VBIED and three suicide bombers on foot, against the Green Village camp in Kabul City in Kabul Province, killing nine people and wounding 21.

• On June 20, seven insurgents attacked the Spozhmai Hotel in Kabul, holding over 50 people hostage for almost 12 hours. The attack resulted in the death of at least 18 Afghans, including 14 civilians.

• Also on June 20, insurgents conducted an attack against Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost Province consisting of a large suicide VBIED and nine suicide bombers wearing U.S. military and Afghan National Army uniforms, killing eight people and wounding 58.

• On July 9, at least 18 insurgents embarked on an attack in several areas of Kandahar City in Kandahar Province, attacking the Afghan National Police headquarters and several Afghan National Police Sub-Stations, killing at least nine people and wounding 39.

• On August 7, insurgents detonated a large VBIED at the Provincial Reconstruction Team at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar Province, killing four individuals and wounding 28.

• On August 8, two suicide bombers targeted a dismounted movement in Asadabad City in Kunar Province, killing five people, including four Americans, and wounding 15 people, including 10 Americans.

• On September 8, a young Afghan child carrying a backpack full of explosives detonated near the U.S. Embassy inside the Green Zone in Kabul City in Kabul Province, killing six Afghans and wounding five.

• On September 14, 15 insurgents wearing U.S. military and Afghan National Security Force uniforms breached the perimeter of Camp Leatherneck/Camp Bastion in Helmand Province and targeted aircraft and military equipment. The attack resulted in two dead CF soldiers, 15 wounded, and millions of dollars worth of damage.

• On September 18, a suicide VBIED targeted an Aircraft Charter Services convoy traveling toward Kabul International Airport in Kabul City in Kabul Province, killing 10 and wounding three.

• On October 26, a lone suicide bomber entered a mosque in Meymaneh City in Faryab Province and detonated his explosives during a service, killing 41 and wounding at least 50.

• On November 21, two suicide bombers wearing suicide vests detonated at a private security company checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood near Camp Eggers and the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone in Kabul City in Kabul Province, killing four people and wounding seven.

• On December 2, insurgents conducted an attack against Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar Province consisting of one VBIED, four suicide bombers on foot, and an unspecified number of insurgents attacking from a considerable stand-off distance. The attack resulted in the deaths of six people and injured 24.

• On December 6, a suicide bomber wearing explosives laced in his underwear and posing as a Taliban peace envoy attempted to assassinate Afghan National Directorate of Security chief Assadullah Khalid in Kabul City in Kabul Province, seriously wounding the Afghan security chief.

• On December 17, insurgents conducted a suicide VBIED attack using a Hino truck against private American company Contrack International in Kabul City in Kabul Province, killing three people and wounding nearly 50.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The current Afghan Penal Code, enacted in 1976, has gaps, a lack of definitions, disproportionate mandatory fines and sentences, and strict minimum imprisonments that result in overcrowded prisons. A recent workshop established objectives for penal code reform and provided guidance to the Criminal Law Reform Working Group for the future path to revise the Penal Code. The workshop also highlighted some areas for potential concern in the process, such as the influence of radical views regarding Sharia, how gender-related crimes will be addressed in the new penal code, and compliance with international obligations regarding human rights and international treaties and conventions to which Afghanistan is Party. The draft Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) was pending in Parliament at year’s end.

The draft Law on the Structure and Jurisdiction of the Attorney General’s Office will codify the structure and funding of the existing Anti-Terrorism Protection Directorate in the Attorney General’s Office and permit the investigation and prosecution of terrorist and national security cases using internationally accepted methods and evidentiary rules.

Afghanistan continued to process travelers on entry and departure at major points of entry with the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). With support from the United States, Afghan authorities continued to expand PISCES installations at additional locations. Afghanistan remained an important partner nation in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program, which continued to shift its focus from the Presidential Protective Service to the National Directorate of Security’s Detachment 10 security unit, to help the Afghans build broader, self-sustaining capabilities to protect national leadership, government facilities, and diplomatic facilities.

The Governments of Afghanistan and the United States investigated a variety of criminal acts, including kidnappings and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. On several occasions, U.S. law enforcement bodies assisted the Ministry of Interior, the National Directorate of Security, and other Afghan authorities, which enabled them to take actions to disrupt and dismantle terrorist operations and prosecute terrorist suspects.

In 2012, the Afghan Attorney General’s Office continued to investigate and prosecute violations of the laws on crimes against the internal and external security of the state (1976 and 1987), violations of the Law on Combat Against Terrorist Offences (2008), and the Law of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives (2005), including laws that prohibit membership in terrorist or insurgent groups as well as laws that forbid violent acts committed against the state, hostage taking, murder, and the use of explosives against military forces and state infrastructure. The number of these cases that were investigated and prosecuted increased. A high percentage of these cases, primarily as a consequence of the March 9 Memorandum of Understanding on the Transfer of U.S. Detention Facilities, were tried at the Justice Center in Parwan. Cases were investigated and prosecuted in large numbers in the provinces as well, including a significant number in Kabul.

A number of incidents involving terrorist acts directed at U.S. citizens and interests were investigated and action taken by Afghan authorities. Two highlights included the December kidnapping and hostage recovery of a U.S. person and the November detention and subsequent Foreign Transfer of Custody of an American Unlawful Enemy Combatant.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Afghanistan, a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, took initial steps to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. In June, Afghanistan was publicly identified by FATF as a jurisdiction with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. At that time, the Central Bank of Afghanistan confirmed by letter to FATF the government’s high-level commitment to implement an action plan agreed upon with the FATF to address these deficiencies. The FATF action plan outlined a number of areas that the government needs to address to bring Afghanistan into compliance with international standards, including the enactment of amended AML/CFT legislation. To date, terrorist finance investigations in Afghanistan have been hampered by a weak or non-existent legal and regulatory regime, coupled with lack of capacity and political commitment. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Afghanistan consistently emphasized the need to strengthen joint cooperation to fight terrorism and violent extremism in a variety of bilateral and multilateral fora. Notable among such meetings were regular meetings of the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan Core Group; the frequent Istanbul Process meetings; and meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other organizations. Afghanistan supported the UNGA Resolution establishing the UN Centre for Counter-Terrorism as part of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

Afghanistan has driven the Counterterrorism Confidence Building Measure (CBM) of the Istanbul Process, working closely with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout 2012, the CBM working group identified activities that will be undertaken to counter terrorism and increase cooperation and mutual confidence.

The Project Global Shield (PGS) partnership focused on monitoring and curtailing the illicit diversion of 14 precursor chemicals used in the production of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and reported an expansion from 82 to 97 participant countries and international organizations included in the World Customs Organization. The PGS-targeted precursors were used in insurgent IED attacks targeting civilian, Afghan, and ISAF elements in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan also continued to work with its NATO-ISAF partners and with its regional neighbors to improve training, capacity, and counterterrorism collaboration. With Turkey and Pakistan, it held a trilateral Summit in December and discussed cooperation and held joint exercises in counterterrorism operations. Besides the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed with the United States in May, Afghanistan signed similar agreements with Italy and France in January 2012, and continued to work on agreements with Turkey and other NATO countries.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Afghanistan’s programs to counter violent extremism continued through increased engagement with religious communities. According to most estimates, over 90 percent of Afghan mosques and madrassas operated independently of government oversight. Some promoted violent extremist ideology. The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, as well as the Department of Islamic Education at the Ministry of Education, continued efforts to register more mosques and madrassas with limited success. The National Ulema Council, a quasi-governmental body of religious scholars established by President Karzai in 2002, became more vocal in condemning suicide attacks as un-Islamic.

The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) was established by the Government of Afghanistan in 2010, and serves to reintegrate low- and mid-level insurgents back into their communities. The APRP is a National Priority Program of the Afghan government, is managed by the High Peace Council (HPC), and executed at the national level by the Joint Secretariat (JS). The HPC and JS work with the Provincial Peace committees and Provincial Joint Secretariat teams to effectively execute the program at the provincial level. By joining the program, the former fighter makes the commitment to renounce violence and sever all ties with the insurgency, and to abide by the Constitution of Afghanistan. This includes accepting the Government of Afghanistan’s laws on women’s rights. Since its inception, the APRP has successfully reintegrated over six thousand former combatants across Afghanistan. Community development is a core element of the APRP, serving both to facilitate the reintegrees’ return and to encourage good governance and economic development at the local level, thereby increasing community resistance to insurgent influence. By year’s end, over 1500 community recovery projects and programs were in various stages of planning and implementation across the country; the Afghan government estimated over 178,000 individuals have benefited from these projects.

Associated documents