al-Qaeda, Taliban Suicide Attacks Unpopular in Afghanistan
The Taliban and al-Qaeda have renewed their suicide campaign in Afghanistan. The recent strike on al-Qaeda leadership in Damadola is believed to have been the scene of a planning session to increase attacks in Afghanistan. The meeting was attended by senior Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders, and al-Qaeda lost three very senior operatives: the head of the WMD program and chief bomb maker, one of two al-Qaeda commanders in Afghanistan, and the commander of al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
There have been three suicide attacks in the last week alone, two in Kandahar and one in Spin Boldak. Twenty Afghanis were killed in Spin Boldak when a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into a crown attending a wrestling match during a celebration of the Muslim festival of Eid. Strategy Page reports there have been well over two dozen such attacks in the past four months and the blame is being laid at the feet of the Pakistani government for not doing enough to stop al-Qaeda and the Taliban from attacking Afghanistan.
The attack in Spin Boldak has sparked an uncommon organized protest in Afghanistan. According to the BBC and other sources, the crowds protested with cries of “death to Pakistan, death to al-Qaeda and death to the Taliban.”
The Kuwaiti News Agency reports Taliban leader Mullah Omar was singled out at the protest by government and religious leaders; “Other speakers lashed out at Taliban and their self-styled Amirul Momineen Mullah Mohammad Omar for the attack. Religious leaders among the speakers said Islam did not allow any one to kill innocent citizens.”
Strategy Page also reports that tribal militias are being created to patrol the border with Pakistan; “The militiamen will patrol their own tribal territory, which they know well. The payments are for the tribesmen to keep terrorists out, although the government will look the other way if the usual tribal smugglers continue to operate.” This is a similar arrangement the Iraqi government has made with tribal groups on the Syrian border, with the creation of the Desert Protection Force.
The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is porous and poorly patroled. While many tribal groups may have been willing to look the other way or actively supported al-Qaeda and Taliban infiltrations into Afghanistan, suicide attacks on their clansmen may force a change in attitude, just as it has in western Iraq. al-Qaeda’s reliance on suicide bombs as their primary weapon may generate the desired spectacular media images; however the victims of the strikes are often the very people al-Qaeda relies on for support.