Afghanistan: First ‘Green on Blue,’ Now ‘Green on Green’ (Updated)
While the New York Times column quoted below reports that, at least in some “green-on-green” attacks, personal grievances may be involved, the Washington Post claims in an earlier (Dec. 18) report that in the case of “green on blue” attacks, “the largest percentage of such incidents probably stemmed from personal motives rather than enemy infiltration,” referring to a Pentagon report to Congress on operations in Afghanistan that was released earlier in December.
Of the 79 insider attacks from May 2007 to September 2012, military investigators found that 38 percent were likely to have been triggered by personal motives; 6 percent were suspected cases of enemy infiltration; and 14 percent were attributed to co-option, in which insurgents persuaded a member of the security forces to help carry out an attack. The cause of 38 percent of the cases was unknown or still under investigation.
Among the “personal motives,” foreign troops lacking “empathy for Muslims and/or cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction” from Afghan troops.”
One such “violent reaction” allegedly occurred when an Afghan soldier “refused and rebuffed [a] U.S. service member for wanting to smoke during Ramadan,” a holy period during which Muslims fast and refrain from smoking from sunrise to sunset.
Read more here.
While the “insider attacks” by Afghanistan military and police forces on Coalition forces — the so-called “green on blue killings” — have been sinister enough and on the increase in Afghanistan, another type of insider killings has also been on the rise.
According to the New York Times, the number of “green on green” attacks, in which Afghans — either Taliban infiltrators or Afghan turncoats — turn on Afghan security forces, has been even heavier. While American and other NATO forces have lost at least 62 so far this year to green on blue attacks, according to a Times count at least 86 have been victims of “green on green” attacks, “and the full toll is likely to be higher.”
Just in the past 10 days, at least 17 Afghan policemen have been killed “in their sleep, at the hands of those close to them.”
In three recent attacks, the attackers have followed a familiar pattern: “[T]he Taliban either infiltrate someone into a unit, or win over someone already in a unit, who then kills his comrades in their sleep. Frequently, the victims are first poisoned or drugged at dinner.”
Perhaps the most Byzantine attack occurred on Dec. 18 when an Afghan teenager at a border check post near the major crossing point between Kandahar and Pakistan, “drugged the commander and the other 10 policemen at the post to put them to sleep, and then shot them all.” Eight died, according to the Times.
In this case, a personal grievance may have been involved, as the police said, according to the Times, that the attacker, Noor Agha,
…whose age was unclear but whom police sources described as ‘still beardless,’ had been the involuntary companion of the border police commander at that check post, Agha Amire, for several years. Other police commanders who knew both said there was clearly an “improper relationship” between the two.
While not saying so explicitly, they were suggesting that Mr. Amire was using Mr. Agha in the commonplace practice known as bacha baazi, in which powerful Afghan commanders frequently keep young boys as personal servants, dancers and sex slaves.
The practice was outlawed during Taliban times but has never gone away, and even some provincial governors and other top officials openly keep bacha baazi harems. The practice was noted in the latest United States State Department’s annual human rights report, but the report said “credible statistics were difficult to acquire as the subject was a source of shame.”
[See my “Afghanistan: Is This Progress?”]
Allegedly, Mr. Agha made a special dinner for the police at the checkpoint and invited two friends. Agha and his friends “put drugs in the food and then shot everyone there, including Mr. Amire, and the three attackers escaped across the border to join Taliban insurgents in Pakistan, according to a police official,” says the Times.
“The wave of killings over the past year has police officers all over Afghanistan watching what they eat, and sleeping uneasily,” says the Times.
Perhaps these men should also think twice about whom they sleep with.
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