25pc insider attacks due to Taliban infiltration: Allen
WASHINGTON (PAN): The top US commander in Afghanistan has said one possible explanation for a spike in killings of American troops by their Afghan partners was the strain of fasting during the just-concluded holy month of Ramadan.
The statement was made Thursday by Marine Gen. John R. Allen during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Pentagon.
Allen said the reasons for "insider attacks" by Afghan soldiers and police officers on their US and coalition partners were not fully understood. He believed Ramadan probably was one reason, since the fasting period came during the heat of the summer and at the peak of the fighting season against the Taliban.
Allen said the Taliban also had played a direct role in some cases by impersonating Afghan troops. The recent increase on so-called "green on blue attacks" in Afghanistan is not a result of an increase in Taliban infiltrators in the ranks of Afghan security forces, he said.
Afghan security forces have killed 10 international troops, mostly Americans, in the past two weeks. At least 39 NATO service members have been killed in such attacks this year. "Green on blue" refers to a colour coding system used by the military.
Allen told reporters that roughly 25 percent of recent insider attacks might be a result of insurgent infiltration, impersonation and coercion, but disagreements and animosity between the shooter and coalition forces also played a role. Allen said NATO is still looking into all of the possible reasons for insider attacks.
The recent spate of insider attacks had not prompted coalition forces to reduce contact with their Afghan counterparts, he said, instead NATO and Afghan troops must become more watchful for the emergence of a threat and be able to respond quickly.
On Wednesday, the Afghan government blamed "foreign infiltration" of Afghan forces, but did not give details.
General Allen said he was waiting for Afghan officials to provide intelligence to support that conclusion. Nearly one-fourth of insider attacks on US troops came from Afghan forces because of Taliban infiltration, Allen said.
“We believe that there is Taliban infiltration (inside Afghan forces)…. We think it (insiders attack) is about 25 percent (due to Taliban infiltration),” he said.
“Yes, there are infiltrators involved, but I don't believe at this particular junction, given the analysis that we've done, that that infiltration has increased and has generated this higher number,” the general said.
“So if it's just pure Taliban infiltration, which is one number. If you add to that impersonation, the potential that someone is pulling the trigger because the Taliban have coerced the family members, that's a different number,” he said.
“It is less about the precision of 25 versus 10 than it is acknowledging that the Taliban are seeking ultimately to have some impact in the formation. I know you are aware that the Taliban try to take credit for every one of these attacks, whether it's a personal grievance or whether it was a successful infiltration,” he said.
“The Taliban influence takes several forms. It might be an impersonator, someone who gets into the uniform in order to get into close proximity to the forces. I might remind everyone that in many cases these impersonators or these infiltrators have, indeed, killed Afghans, as well as they have killed coalition forces. Indeed, the Afghan casualties are higher than ours in this regard,” he said.
To a question on the allegation of foreign hand in insider attacks, Allen said he is waiting for intelligence information from the government of Afghanistan in this regard before arriving at a definite conclusion.
“The reason for these attacks are very complex, and we're going to look at all of the reasons. I'm looking forward to Afghanistan providing us with the intelligence that permits us to come to that conclusion so that we can understand how they've drawn that conclusion and we could add that into our analysis. But we'll wait to make a definitive statement on that issue until we've seen their intelligence in that regard,” Allen said in response to a question.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.