Center for Strategic Communication


Ghazi Mohammed Rozi. Image from the Voice of Jihad.

Yesterday the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, announced that Australian forces had tracked down and killed a former Afghan National Army soldier who was involved in an insider attack nearly two years ago in Uruzgan province.

The rogue soldier, Mohammed Roozi, was hunted down earlier this week by a joint Afghan/Australian/International Security Assistance Force unit in the northern province of Takhar, far from the Australian base in Uruzgan where the green-on-blue attack took place in November 2011.

“This combined operation involved months of focused intelligence and professional work by the Australian Defence Force in concert with the International Security Assistance Force,” Rudd said. According to the Guardian, ADF chief General David Hurley said that “Australian forces, in concert with ISAF, narrowed down his location and then worked with the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and ISAF elements responsible for the area to plan and conduct a focused mission.”

During the Afghan-led cordon and search operation, Roozi was shot and killed by the approaching joint force after he threw a grenade at them, slightly injuring an Afghan soldier.

On Aug. 14, the Taliban issued a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad, confirming Roozi’s death, and claimed that he had been killed by American soldiers in a raid on his house during which eight US troops were said to have been killed. The Taliban also claimed that Roozi’s presence had been reported by informers. The Taliban routinely exaggerate casualty statements, and no ISAF casualties have been reported from the raid.

Roozi had fled to the Taliban after opening fire with a grenade launcher and an automatic weapon on Australian and Afghan troops at a patrol base in Uruzgan late on Nov. 8, 2011. He wounded three Australian soldiers and two Afghan troops, and escaped in an army vehicle, Reuters reported at the time. The wounded Australians had been training Roozi, according to The Age.

After escaping to the Taliban, Roozi appeared in a Taliban propaganda video in which he claimed to have been on a mission “to kill foreigners and teach them a lesson.” [See Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video ‘welcoming’ rogue ANA soldiers.]

According to General Hurley, Australian troops never gave up searching for Roozi. Hurley also stated that his forces are still trying to track down other green-on-blue attackers, including Hek Matullah (or Hikmatullah), who killed three Australian soldiers at a base in Uruzgan in late August 2012.

Roozi is one of the few green-on-blue attackers to have been tracked down so far. According to The Long War Journal‘s special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, in the 80 attacks reported since Jan. 1, 2008, a total of 35 attackers are said to have fled, and there is only one other reported instance of an attacker being located days after escaping (April 4, 2011 attack). So far, 69 attackers have been killed, wounded, or captured during or immediately after the incident. And earlier this year, a captured attacker escaped from prison (July 9, 2013 attack).

Green-on-blue attacks continue

The Taliban have been quick to capitalize on the green-on-blue attacks in their propaganda, routinely claiming them for the Taliban, and usually alleging that the attacker was an infiltrator. Insider attacks have featured as a key element of Taliban strategy over the past few years.

Although the frequency of green-on-blue attacks this year has fallen in comparison to a peak last year, there is a likelihood that the number of attacks is higher than that officially reported. ISAF has not disclosed the overall number of green-on-blue incidents in which ISAF soldiers were wounded by Afghan security personnel, or the attacks on ISAF personnel that did not result in casualties.

ISAF told The Long War Journal in March 2012 that “these statistics … [are ] … classified.” Inquiries as to why the overall statistic is classified went unanswered. More than one year later, the data remains classified. [See Long War Journal report, Afghan soldier kills 2 ISAF troops in latest green-on-blue attack.]

In its July 2013 Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, the US Department of Defense noted a small decrease in the number of insider attacks for the reporting period Oct. 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 in comparison to the same period the year before (15 last period and 13 this reporting period).

The report also stated that the DoD has revised its figures to account for insider attacks that had been previously miscategorized, so that: “additional events were reclassified as insider attacks for a 2007-2012 total of 99 attacks,” instead of the previous total of 88. It added that “there were three events that occurred in 2013, bringing the current total of insider attacks against ISAF to 102.” The totals contained in The Long War Journal‘s special report data are consistent with those reported by the DoD, but LWJ‘s totals do not include data for 2007. In addition, the DoD totals include data for some incidents that are classified.

According to the latest DoD report, “[r]oughly half of the attacks in 2012 involved some level of insurgent links, with a third of those only making contact with insurgents after their attack.” This assessment is similar to previous US estimates of Taliban infiltration and influence, and is likely a conservative one.

“None of the insider attacks against ISAF during the reporting period was attributable to
personal disagreements,” the report stated. The report also noted a marked increase in insider attacks conducted by more than one person.

The report specified that after the spike in attacks in 2012, counter-intelligence teams (Target Focused Analysis & Neutralization (TFAN)) and other NATO forces were deployed throughout Afghanistan to try to address the increasingly dangerous trend. In all, these forces “detected and neutralized 94 insider threats” during the reporting period.