Two Afghan soldiers opened fire on Spanish and Afghan troops patrolling in the western Afghan province of Herat last night. The insider (or ‘green-on-blue’) attack, in which Afghan security forces strike at Coalition allies, is the last such incident recorded in 2012.
The two Afghan soldiers attacked the Spanish troops last night as they patrolled in the Karkh district in Herat, according to Khaama Press. No Spanish or Afghan soldiers were hurt.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that the attack took place, and said an investigation had been launched to determine whether the attack was carried out by Afghan troops. An Afghan security official told Khaama Press that the two soldiers were members of the Afghan National Army.
A top Taliban spokesman claimed that the Afghan soldiers, who were from Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, were operating under Taliban orders, the Afghanistan Times reported. The two Afghan soldiers escaped to the Taliban after the attack. The Taliban, who routinely exaggerate casualties caused by their operations, also claimed that four Spanish soldiers were killed in the attack.
Yesterday’s attack is the second recorded in Herat province in 2012. On July 22, 2012, a member of the Afghan National Police killed three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF. The attacker was killed.
A total of 44 green-on-blue attacks are reported to have taken place in 2012; these attacks resulted in the deaths of 61 ISAF military and civilian personnel. (Note: ISAF does not disclose data on all such attacks; ISAF has told The Long War Journal that the overall number of attacks is “classified”.) In 2011, there were 15 such attacks reported, and in 2010 there were 5.
In 2012, the green-on-blue attacks accounted for 15 percent of ISAF’s casualties. For 2011, the attacks accounted for 6 percent of ISAF’s casualties; and for 2010, the number was only 2 percent. See LWJ report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, for more information.
Insider attacks a key part of Taliban strategy
In October 2012, Taliban emir Mullah Omar released an Eid al-Adha message that urged followers to “[i]increase Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy and to bring about better order and array in the work.” The statement continued: “We call on the Afghans who still stand with the stooge regime to turn to full-fledged cooperation with their Mujahid people like courageous persons in order to protect national interests and to complete independence of the country. Jihadic activities inside the circle of the State militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency if God willing.”
Omar had previously addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks at length in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012. Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]
As insider attacks continued to spike through the summer and early fall of 2012, Coalition officials began to acknowledge that the Taliban are behind a larger proportion of the attacks, and ISAF started to intensify its efforts against the perpetrators. Many of the attackers appear to come from the eastern Afghan provinces, a BBC reporter wrote in September, where Taliban influence is prevalent. And in early October 2012, ISAF commanders admitted that attackers from Pakistan with links to the Taliban and its subgroup, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, were significantly involved in the attacks, the Associated Press reported.