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Monday, January 18

'Taliban' stage major attack on Kabul (UPDATED 6:30 AM ET)

UPDATE 6:30 AM ET
The Wall Street Journal reported at 6:03 AM ET that Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid is claiming credit for the assault on Kabul and it's "believed to be carried out by members of a militant network led by Sirajuddin Haqqani ..."

Almost a year ago, on February 19, 2009, intelligence analyst B. Raman reported on his blog:
2. [...] In a transcript passed to Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence in May 2008, General Ashfaq Kayani, the military chief who replaced Pervez Musharraf, was overheard referring to Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani as “a strategic asset”.

The remark was the first real evidence of the double game that Washington had long suspected President Musharraf was playing as he continued receiving US military aid while aiding the Taleban. Mr Haqqani, a veteran of the anti-Soviet mujahidin wars of the nineties, commands a hardline Taleban group based in Waziristan and is credited with introducing suicide bombing into the militants' arsenal. Washington later intercepted calls from Pakistani military units to Mr Haqqani, warning him of an impending military operation designed to prove to the US that Islamabad was tackling the militant threat.

3. Evidence of the links of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and of the double game being played by Musharraf, the Pakistan Army and the ISI was available with the US intelligence since 2001, if not earlier. There were references to it in some documents of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which were declassified by the US Administration in September 2003.[...]
Raman titled his report OBAMA & PAKISTAN: RELUCTANCE TO CALL A SPADE A SPADE. Washington's ongoing reluctance to call a spade a spade is continuing to contribute to unnecessary deaths and maiming of U.S. military and civilians in Afghanistan. Today's very sophisticated military-style assault on Kabul is futher indication of that.

The madness of U.S. pandering to Islamabad did not start on Mr Obama's watch but it's fallen to him to end it, and he needs to do so immediately.
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The following reports are republished with the permission of STRATFOR (www.STRATFOR.com):

Taliban Assault on Kabul
January 18, 2010 approximately 3:30 AM ET

A major Taliban attack began on Kabul Jan. 18. The fighting is being reported by both American and Taliban sources. According to one American source, reports of an imminent attack began circulating Jan. 17. Heavy fighting is being reported at multiple locations, apparently focused around the Serena Hotel. The hotel, which is frequented by foreign journalists and government officials, has been attacked in the past. [...] The attack is still in progress, with Taliban forces reportedly fighting Afghan security forces. Explosions, gunfire and rocket fire have been reported along with the suicide bombers. It is unclear as to whether this assault will prove larger than attacks carried out last February.[...]

STRATFOR Update approx. 4:30 AM ET

The Taliban attack in Kabul is reportedly winding down. The assault began around 9:35 a.m. local time Jan. 18 (the day the new cabinet was being sworn in) when reports of rocket fire and explosions were heard in the Afghan capital near several government buildings.

Just 23 minutes later, reports emerged that the Taliban had claimed the attack in a message to the Afghan Islamic Press. In the claim, Taliban spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed said 20 suicide assailants were attacking the Presidential Palace, the Central Bank and the Ministries of Finance, Justice and Mines and Industries. The Serena Hotel, the Defense Ministry and the Afghan Telecom had also reportedly come under attack.

A little after noon local time, militants began to lay siege on two major shopping centers, including a mall called the Grand Afghan Shopping Center near the Justice Ministry. Eyewitness reported militants carrying rocket-propelled grenades entered the second and third floors of the mall. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) reportedly detonated outside one of the shopping centers killing several security forces.

Around the same time, reports emerged that militants who had earlier breached the southern gate of the presidential palace had entered the building where a swearing-in ceremony for Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet was scheduled to take place. The Afghan government denied any breach of the palace had taken place. Several minutes later, another blast was heard outside the Cinema Pamir in an area far from the other attacks, about 1 kilometer away from the Serena hotel.

The size of this attack (if it involved 20 assailants as the Taliban have claimed) is more than twice as large as the Feb. 11, 2009, attack in Kabul, which involved a team of eight attackers. While a complete and concise assessment of what has been struck is still being compiled, it does appear that the justice ministry (the main target of the February 2009 attack) was again hit hard and there are reports of a substantial fire burning inside the building. It is unclear if the fire was started by a rocket attack or assailants who had succeeded in penetrating the building’s security.

STRATFOR sources are reporting that the Taliban may have used suicide vehicle bombs and artillery rockets in addition to the suicide bombers on foot and armed gunmen. If so, this is a new wrinkle. We have seen VBIEDS and artillery rockets employed by the Taliban in Kabul, but not in coordination with an armed assault.
Comments:
Pundita, with all due respect to Raman and you, it's more complicated than jus calling a spade a spade. Question then is what u gonna do abt it. What "leverage" does Washington have in Islamabad? Yeah one might say cut off aid to Pak. But that would lead to a vaccuum which will be filled by more Talebs in Pak. So there are no good options for US and it has to deal with and manage a double dealing Pak. And sadly (for the US) Paks already might know this and are probably gonna "milk" the US as much as they can!
 
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