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Taliban deny attack on Red Cross

May 31, 2013

By Tim Foxley

Summary: Taliban deny Red Cross attack – do we believe them?

It looks as if the Taliban, after over 48 hours silence on the matter, have come out and denied that it was they who attacked the Red Cross compound in Jalalabad on Wednesday:

The Taliban has denied any role in this week’s attack on a Red Cross compound in eastern Afghanistan, saying they had previously co-operated with the aid agency and did not support targeting it.

The rare public denial by the insurgents deepened the mystery of who was behind the assault on Wednesday that began when a suicide bomber detonated a device at the compound’s gate and another gunman entered the compound. An Afghan guard was killed in the explosion, and seven international staff inside the compound were later rescued by police.

Afghan Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said on Friday that the Taliban had previously given their blessing to the ICRC to conduct polio vaccinations in areas they control and would never attack an independent aid group.

“We are not involved, and we are not supporting this kind of attack,” he said in a terse emailed statement.

The Taliban claim they never target civilians or humanitarian aid groups, but they have occasionally attacked United Nations guesthouses or those of groups they say are working with US and Afghan spy agencies.

A week previously, the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for an attack on the compound of another aid group, the International Organisation for Migration, with the insurgents saying they were targeting trainers linked to the CIA. Three Afghans died in that assault, which started with a car bomb and led to an eight-hour battle in the heart of Kabul. Police killed all the gunmen and rescued 10 foreign aid workers.

Analysis and Outlook:

Difficult to draw any useful conclusions from this.  They have to say something, and they have had a few days in which to judge the media backlash.  The Taliban have messed up before and are usually quick to deny, deflect or denounce in the aftermath of bad publicity.  They got very confused after the assassination of Rabbani, which they denied, claimed and imposed radio silence pending an “investigation”.  It certainly could be a Hezb-e Islami or a Haqqani group operating without the knowledge or consent of the Taliban.  But it could equally be a Taliban (rogue) group meeting similar critieria.  It could further offer proof of command problems or power/strategy struggles within the Taliban leadership.  In extremis, it could be some kind of external plot (neighbouring countries??) designed to undermine or punish the Taliban, perhaps in relation to political dialogue issues (or lack of).  I’m not convinced about that as an explanation thus far.  It would be nice to think that evidence gathered at the scene might yield a few clues.  Either way, the Taliban have not come out of this well – and lets not forget that they very readily claimed the attack against the IOM in Kabul last Friday.  I am still hoping they will come out with a more detailed official statement on their website so we can at least get a sense of their tone and approach to the denial.  We might even get a slight hint of what really happened, or what the Taliban really think happened, at any rate.  Whether this whole incident pushes them into more conciliatory discourse for a change, or paints them further into the “violence” corner, remains to be seen.

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UPDATE:

A slightly more detailed statement from them which I don’t think adds much more:

Remarks of spokesman of Islamic Emirate regarding attack on ICRC in Jalalabad

1-ghEverybody is aware that the Islamic Emirate began and is continuing its struggle and Jihad in light of Islamic principles and humanitarian values. The Islamic Emirate has never not only targeted civilians and those who truly work for the benefit of the people without having ties with intelligence organizations but it has always helped them to the best of its ability for the sake of the relief of its nation, an example of which is a recent statement in which it declared its full support for polio vaccination campaign.

Therefore the Islamic Emirate wants to make it clear to everyone that it had no hand in the attack on 8th May on the ICRC office in Jalalabad city and neither does it support such attacks.

 

Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi

22/07/1434

09/03/1392         31/05/2013

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2013 5:57 pm

    This is post is covers *every* contingencey, which needed to be said! “In extremis, it could be some kind of external plot (neighbouring countries??)” I thought this, and told myself “Suzanne, you’re insane, really *what* do YOU know??” so, it was good to see this, and it’s not impossible either. The Taliban have other enemies. (I don’t think it will turn out to be a “neighbouring country,” but still, at this point, it’s good to have all the possibilities stated.)

  2. May 31, 2013 6:24 pm

    Thanks! Simply means I can’t get off the analytical fence…

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