April 16, 2014

Personal motives behind many Afghan insider attacks: Report

By Mirwais Adeel - Wed Dec 19 2012, 9:33 pm

Afghan National Army shoots and Kills Australian Service MemberAccording to detailed US military data disclosed recently suggest that the largest percentage of the insider attacks by Afghan security forces on their international counterparts are probably stemmed from personal motives rather than enemy infiltration.

However the Taliban has billed a rash of insider attacks targeting international troops in Afghanistan as an effective battlefield strategy, the Washington Post reported.

Military investigators found that of the 79 insider attacks from May 2007 to September 2012, 38 percent were likely to have been triggered by personal motives; 6 percent were suspected cases of enemy infiltration; and 14 percent were attributed to co-option, in which insurgents persuaded a member of the security forces to help carry out an attack.

The investigation by US military however says that the cause of 38 percent of the cases was unknown or still under being probed.

The data was part of the Pentagon report to Congress on operations in Afghanistan that was released last week which reflects the attacks by Afghan security forces and interpreters on international coalition security forces.

The so called green on blue attacks which dramatically increased in this summer resulted in temporarily suspension of joint patrol by Afghan and NATO troops .

According to reports at least 116 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan since 2007 following insider attacks out of which around 51 were killed only this year, which accounted for 21 percent of NATO combat deaths in Afghanistan this year.

In the meantime US officials are saying that they remain focused on enhancing training and security procedures to mitigate what they see as an enduring threat.

“I would be very loath to say that it’s a problem that’s been solved,” a senior defense official quoted by Washington Post said last week, briefing journalists on the Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, which is issued twice a year. “It’s a problem we will continue to address.”

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity per department protocol, said that regardless of the motive behind insider attacks, “they were all used by the Taliban as part of their narrative.”

Meanwhile, to combat the threat the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has developed several initiatives which increased its emphasis on cultural sensitivity and established a “guardian angel” system in which designated American troops watch over their comrades during meetings and patrols with Afghans.

An Army draft handbook which was released on October 12 said many altercations occurred because foreign troops “lack empathy for Muslims and/or cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction” from Afghan troops.

The book reflected a handful of cases in which Afghans opened fire on their foreign allies, providing a rare window into the kind of situations that sparked attacks.

One of the shootings cited occurred during an argument over the propriety of smoking during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, according to the draft manual, which was obtained by The Washington Post. While waiting outside a meeting of U.S. and Afghan security leaders, an American soldier asked an Afghan for a lighter so he could smoke.

According to the draft, “The [Afghan soldier] refused and rebuffed the U.S. service member for wanting to smoke during Ramadan,” a period in which Muslims fast and refrain from smoking during daylight hours.

“The U.S. service member cursed the [Afghan soldier] and disparaged his religious beliefs,” the report said. As the argument escalated, the Afghan raised his weapon. Both the Afghan and the American fired shots, and both were wounded.

The 75-page manual, which the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan has not adopted or endorsed, contains several recommendations, including that foreign and Afghan troops should avoid discussion of religion, women, sex and human rights. The authors of the draft, which was disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, also suggested that female foreign troops avoid wearing shorts around Afghan men.

In the meantime green on blue attacks by Afghan security forces on their comrades have also dramatically increased in Afghanistan this year. In the latest wave of insider attack four Afghan police officers were shot dead and three others have been hospitalized after being attacked by a colleague.

The incident happened at a checkpoint in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar Province.

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