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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Afghanistan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Afghanistan, 18 August 2011, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: During a year in which it conducted contentious Parliamentary elections and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troop numbers surged to over 131,000, Afghanistan continued to confront the challenges of building a stable, democratic government in the face of a sophisticated, multi-faceted insurgency that primarily relied on asymmetric tactics. The insurgency targeted coalition forces, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA), international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign diplomatic missions, Afghan civilians, and Afghan government officials and security forces.

Separate but intertwined and affiliated extremist organizations led by Mullah Omar (Taliban), Sirajuddin Haqqani (Haqqani Network), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin) increased their use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and coordinated attacks using multiple suicide bombers, particularly in the eastern and southern portions of the country. As they did prior to the August 2009 presidential and provincial elections, Taliban militants and other insurgents made a concentrated effort to depress voter turnout during the September 2010 parliamentary elections. A variety of threats, attacks, and intimidation tactics were used to prevent Afghan citizens from voting. Pashtun parliamentary losses in several provinces increased electoral dissatisfaction and ethnic tension.

The Commander of U.S. Central Command maintained command and control of U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan. United States forces targeted insurgent leaders, facilitators, IED networks, the narcotics-insurgent nexus, and insurgent training and logistics centers with the objective of eliminating terrorists and facilitating reconstruction and development. The Afghan National Army (ANA), and to a lesser extent, the Afghan National Police (ANP), continued to lead in the majority of counterterrorism operations in close cooperation with coalition forces. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) continued to work in close partnership with ISAF to develop the capability necessary to assume the lead in security across Afghanistan and take a greater role in planning and execution operations. With support from the international civilian and military community, the ANSF exceeded their recruitment goals for 2010 with an end strength of approximately 150,000 ANA and 117,000 ANP. Notwithstanding the promising growth, key challenges remained: retention and attrition, officer and non-commissioned officer shortages, logistical shortfalls, poor literacy rates, and pay problems.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: IED attacks, direct and indirect fire, and suicide attacks increased in 2010. The increase in ISAF troop presence from 100,000 to 131,730 and their kinetic activities likely led insurgents to increase their activity. There was a 72 percent increase in total kinetic events, with IEDs representing 25 to 40 percent of this activity. According to ISAF, the total number of civilians killed in 2010 exceeded those in 2009, totaling more than 1,408; the vast majority of these deaths were caused by insurgent elements. The UN, which employed a different methodology, reported that, during the first 10 months of the year, more than 2,400 civilians were killed and 3,800 were injured; 76 percent of those casualties were caused by insurgents. The insurgents also continued their attacks on humanitarian workers, with almost 100 killed in 2010.

While insurgent activity occurred daily, high profile attacks included:

  • On February 26, 16 were killed, including nine Indian nationals, during an attack on two Indian guesthouses.

  • On May 28, the Taliban destroyed one school and threatened two others in the Lakan area of Khost; the attackers demanded the release of certain detainees before they would allow the schools to reopen.

  • On July 2, four were killed and 24 were wounded in an attack on the Kunduz office of Development Alternatives Incorporated.

  • On August 7, Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for killing 10 members of a medical mission team in Badakhshan Province.

  • On September 26, a British national who was kidnapped by insurgents was killed during a rescue attempt.

  • On October 8, the Kunduz governor Engineer Mohammad Omar, was assassinated.

  • On December 19, a suicide attack in Kabul killed five ANA officers.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Governments of Afghanistan and the United States investigated a variety of criminal acts, including kidnappings, assassinations, contracting corruption fraud, and other crimes against military and security forces, NGOs, and civilians. U.S. government law enforcement bodies regularly passed actionable information to the Ministry of Interior and the National Directorate of Security and Afghan authorities who then took actions to disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute terrorist suspects based on the information. In 2010, the Afghan Attorney General office received 1170 national security threat cases for prosecution, passing 743 to the courts. The U.S. government often participated in prisoner interviews and debriefings with Afghan authorities of persons suspected of terrorist activity in Afghanistan and persons with connections to the United States.

The implementation of a widespread biometrics program was important to improving the law enforcement environment. Biometric enrollments of the Afghan population would significantly improve the security environment and reduce the ability of extremists and criminals to act anonymously and with impunity. The Afghan Ministry of Interior led the development of a biometrics program called "Afghan 1000," which aimed to enroll 80 percent of the population by late 2012. The Afghan government also considered a National Security Detentions Law that would provide the government with a legal regime better suited to the investigation and prosecution of terrorist and insurgent cases.

Afghanistan continued to process travelers on entry and departure at Kabul international airport with the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). Afghan authorities reviewed plans for expanded PISCES installations at additional locations.

Countering Terrorist Finance: In 2004, Afghanistan passed two laws to formalize the combating of money laundering and terrorist financing, and established Afghanistan's financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Afghanistan (FinTRACA). FinTRACA was responsible for collecting "suspicious transaction reports" from banks, analyzing them, and disseminating financial intelligence from this analysis to Afghan law enforcement agencies. FinTRACA also worked closely with other global FIUs and in summer 2010 became a member of the Egmont Group of FIUs, which allowed it to share financial intelligence with, and request financial intelligence from, more than 100 Egmont-member FIUs around the world. Despite these increased efforts by the international community against funding flows, streams of Taliban financing from abroad, along with funds gained from narcotics trafficking and kidnapping, criminal enterprises, and taxing the local population, have allowed the insurgency to strengthen its military and technical capabilities. Narcotics trafficking in particular remained an important financing mechanism of terrorist/insurgent operations.

Regional and International Cooperation: The Government of Afghanistan continued to increase its international cooperation on counterterrorism. In November, Afghanistan joined over 60 countries and the World Customs Organization to partner in the on-going Project Global Shield (PGS), the goal of which is to monitor and curtail the illicit diversion of 14 explosive and drug precursor chemicals used for terrorist purposes. (PGS-targeted precursors were used in insurgent IED attacks targeting civilian, Afghan, and ISAF elements.) The August Summit in Sochi, Russia convened the Presidents of Afghanistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Pakistan and included discussions of counterterrorism cooperation. The President of Afghanistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan issued a joint statement after their September 15-16 meeting in Pakistan that recognized the need for close cooperation against terrorism and reaffirmed this commitment in their December 4 meeting in Kabul.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Afghan government supported counter-radicalization programs, mainly by engaging networks of supportive local and traditional leaders that promulgated a tolerant interpretation of Islam. The Ministry of Information, Culture, and Youth and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs have both convened numerous meetings at both local and national levels to encourage discussion and dialogue on religious issues, including radicalization. Lack of resources and capacity at the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, however, was a serious impediment to monitoring themes of Friday sermons across the country, and the Ministry lacked the capability to provide guidance to the many thousands of mullahs and imams in the country. The Ministry's Islamic Sciences Research Center produced small books and brochures providing Islamic arguments against terrorism, suicide bombing, and radicalism for distribution throughout the country.

The United States assisted the Afghan government to develop programs to counter radicalization in prisons, as internal prison networks have a great deal of influence on active external terrorist networks. The separation of prisoners who constitute national security threats from common criminals was necessary to prevent insurgent recruitment within prisons.

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