In an interview published in the 78th issue of the Afghan Taliban’s al-Samoud magazine, an official in the group’s “Da’wa [Preaching] and Education Committee” describes the Taliban’s strategy for its insider attack campaign and summarizes operations in that area. The interview, which was released on Oct. 29, was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The official, al-Hajj Abdul Samad, notes that his “field of work is in Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Nimruz, Herat, Badghis, Faryab, Uruzgan and Sar-i-Pul provinces.” These provinces happen to be where the great majority of the insider, or green-on-blue, attacks have taken place. [For detailed information on the attacks, see LWJ report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]
According to the SITE translation of the interview, Abdul Samad claims that the Taliban’s “statistics about the number of elements who left the enemy ranks during the past eight months so far as a result of our preaching is 1,100 persons from among military people and civilians in the enemy ranks, and they showed remorse for their past of opposing the mujahideen.”
“The enemy wasn’t just harmed by the vacuum created by those who left, for those soldiers also carried with them 700 pieces of heavy and light weapons to the mujahideen in addition to large quantities of ammunitions, means of transportation, and other things,” he continues. “In twenty incidents where they joined the mujahideen, they attacked the occupation soldiers and the agents and inflicted heavy damages to them before joining the mujahideen.”
Although the interview does not clearly indicate the time frame for Abu Samad’s statistics other than “during the past eight months,” it is probable that he is referring to the period January through August of this year. On Aug. 16, Taliban emir Mullah Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged Afghan forces to defect and join the Taliban. He also highlighted the creation of the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country.”
The 20 attacks claimed by Abu Samad most likely occurred in the 10 provinces for which he is responsible. Interestingly, according to the LWJ‘s timeline of the green-on-blue attacks, for the period Jan. 1 – Aug. 31 this year in the 10 provinces in Samad’s “field,” there were 21 attacks, which closely matches Samad’s claim of 20 insider attacks due to Taliban infiltration.
Overall, there have been 40 attacks recorded so far in Afghanistan this year, and between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, there were 33 recorded attacks. The LWJ timeline also indicates that the Taliban claimed at least four attacks during the Jan. 1 – Aug. 31 period that were outside Samad’s 10 provinces. In the interview, Samad states that he is the official in charge of insider attacks for the southern and western provinces, and that there is another official in charge of the northern and eastern provinces.
Since its establishment a year ago, the Preaching and Education Committee has “started departments and employed officials to follow up on matters inside and outside of Afghanistan,” Abul Samad claims. It now has “enlarged its formations to all … 34 provinces” with local formations on the district levels.
He also explains that the Preaching and Education Committee conducts other activities besides encouraging insider attacks, which include “strengthen[ing] our relationship with the elites of the peoples, the scholars of the religion, the tribal sheikhs, and the school and university teachers and their students ….” The Committee’s activities are not confined to Afghanistan, as he remarks that the Committee’s departments and officials deal with “matters inside and outside of Afghanistan.”
Samad concludes by urging would-be attackers to contact Taliban outreach personnel, and even provides a phone number to contact the committee.
“They can call the official of [Preaching] and Education in every province and district, or call the general number of the [Preaching] and Education Committee, and it is 0708298195,” he says. “This way they will secure for themselves a safe way out from the enemy ranks and guarantee a safe life in the future. What will be their fate if they die while supporting the disbelievers and allying with them?”
The degree of Taliban infiltration claimed by Samad may not be entirely accurate, but it is difficult to disprove. The Taliban routinely exaggerate casualties and damages inflicted in conventional attacks, and their propaganda efforts benefit from claiming that most if not all insider attacks are due to Taliban infiltration and influence.
Nonetheless, the steep spike in green-on-blue attacks this year has forced Coalition officials to acknowledge the Taliban’s significant role in the attacks. In the past few months, Coalition forces have stepped up raids against Taliban networks behind the attacks. [See Threat Matrix report, ISAF captures Taliban ‘insider attack planners’ in Logar]. Just three days ago, a joint Afghan and Coalition force in Helmand province captured a Taliban “facilitator” behind a green-on-blue attack that killed one US soldier and wounded three more in Paktia province in August.
Earlier today, the Helmand provincial police chief announced an investigation into the problem of insider attacks on Afghan forces by Taliban infiltration of the police in the province, Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The police chief denied, however, that Afghan policemen have attacked NATO soldiers, and maintained that the attackers were merely wearing police informs. According to LWJ statistics, there have been more attacks on Coalition troops in Helmand than in any other Afghan province.