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Cablegate: Afghanistan: 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #4129/01 3561555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221555Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4288
INFO RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS KABUL 004129

SIPDIS

S/CT: RHONDA SHORE; NCTC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: 2009 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 109980

1. Per reftel, the following is Embassy Kabul's submission
for the 2009 Country Report on Terrorism. Begin Text:

In 2009, an Afghan presidential election year, Afghanistan
continued to confront the challenges of building a stable,
democratic government in the face of a sophisticated,
multi-faceted insurgency that increasingly employs terrorist
tactics. This insurgency targeted coalition forces, the
United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA),
international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign
diplomatic missions, Afghan government officials, and Afghan
voters.

Separate but interdependent extremist organizations led by
U.S.-designated terrorists Mullah Omar (Taliban), Jalaluddin
Haqqani (Haqqani Network) and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
(Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin - HIG) notably increased their use
of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and coordinated
attacks using multiple suicide bombers, resulting in an
increase from 2008 in overall casualties. The Taliban, in
particular, stepped up the pace of its attacks and
simultaneously increased its shadow government presence
throughout the country.

With support from the civilian and military international
community, the Government of the Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan (GIRoA)is working to build and strengthen its
national security forces and establish effective
law-enforcement mechanisms and improved governance to
increase stability and counter Taliban presence and
influence. In addition, President Karzai announced in his
November 19 inaugural speech that it would be a priority of
his new administration to reintegrate those lower level
Taliban fighters into mainstream society who were willing to
lay down arms, sever all ties to al-Qa'ida, and accept the
Afghan Constitution.

Since its March 2005 inception, the Disbandment of Illegal
Armed Groups (DIAG) program - successor to the earlier
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program
- has disbanded 689 illegal armed groups and collected over
45,000 weapons. Beginning in 2007, DIAG has offered
development assistance to qualifying districts. Eighty-seven
of the 132 targeted districts currently qualify for this
assistance and are considered to be in compliance with DIAG
disarmament regulations.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led the
coalition forces' counterinsurgency campaign, using a
combination of counterinsurgency means and methods, including
synchronized use of combat (air and ground forces) and
non-combat means (building civil governance and aiding
reconstruction and development in conjunction with UNAMA) to
fight extremism.

The Commander, U.S. Central Command, maintained command and
control of U.S. counterterrorism (CT) forces operating in
Afghanistan. CT operations were coordinated with U.S. forces
at the Headquarters of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and
Combined Joint Task Force 82 (CJTF 82), the successor to CJTF
101. Special Operations Forces conducting combined
operations and foreign internal defense operated under the
Commander, USFOR-A. United States CT forces target insurgent
leaders, 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) continue to lead in the majority of counterterrorism
operations, in close cooperation with coalition forces. The
Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) assumed lead
responsibility from coalition forces for municipal security
in Kabul City in 2008. It continues to work in close
partnership with ISAF to develop the capability necessary to
assume the lead in security across Afghanistan. Partly in
response to their growing inability to prevail against
coalition and ANSF forces in conventional encounters,
militants increasingly resorted to terrorist tactics to
intimidate ordinary Afghans. These tactics included greater
use of increasingly sophisticated IEDs along key travel
arteries, assassination of Afghan government officials, and
the use of suicide bombers and direct fire attacks in
population centers where Afghan civilians are used as
shields.

Integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency approaches in
the east have continued to yield some successes.
Nonetheless, the anti-government insurgency remained a
capable, determined, and resilient threat to stability and to
the expansion of government authority, particularly in the
south and east. The insurgency continued to suffer heavy
combat losses, including among senior leaders, but its
ability to obtain al-Qa'ida support and recruit soldiers
remained undiminished. Taliban information operations were
aggressive and sophisticated, including, for example, Mullah
Omar's injunctions on the Taliban website for Taliban
fighters to avoid harming civilians and pulse local
communities regarding their satisfaction with Taliban shadow
government officials' performance.

Streams of Taliban financing from across the border in
Pakistan, along with funds gained from narcotics trafficking
and kidnapping, have allowed the insurgency to strengthen its
military and technical capabilities. Narcotics trafficking
in particular is a primary financing mechanism of
terrorist/insurgent operations, and although poppy production
decreased 22% in 2009 and the number of poppy-free provinces
increased from 18 to 20, the actual progress this represents
in terms of reducing revenue streams is not yet clear.

Violence in 2009 reached the highest level since 2001. In
addition to targeting Afghan and coalition military forces,
insurgents and criminals attacked Afghan government officials
and civil servants, Afghan police forces and recruits,
humanitarian actors, and civilians. Foreign civilians,
including diplomats, were deliberately targeted. Two
high-profile terrorist attacks against foreign diplomats in
Kabul City this year included the October 8 suicide car
bombing of the Indian Embassy that killed at least 17 and the
October 28 attack on a UNAMA guesthouse that killed 5 UN
employees and 3 other Afghans. The Taliban claimed
responsibility for both attacks.

Throughout the year, insurgents targeted NGOs, Afghan
journalists, government workers, UN workers, and recipients
of NGO assistance. They targeted teachers, pupils
(especially girls), and schools. Attacks on girls schools in
the east and south increased, and Taliban militants were
suspected in late April and early May of using an
unidentified gas to sicken girls and teachers at two schools
in the town of Charikar in Parwan Province and one school in
Mahmud Raqi, a small town north of Kabul. Insurgents coupled
threats and attacks against NGOs with continued targeting of
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), de-mining teams, and
construction crews working on roads and other infrastructure
projects. Additionally, insurgents and criminals continue to
kidnap foreigners and Afghans. While insurgents conduct most
abductions for ransom, presumably as a means of raising money
to support their operations, they have also sought to use
victims to negotiate with the GIRoA and the international
community.

Taliban militants made a concentrated effort to thwart the
August 20 Presidential and Provincial elections by
intimidating voters and attacking election officials. There
were more than 1000 insurgent attacks in August,
approximately 20% of which occurred on Election Day.
Although there were few resulting casualties, voter turnout
was notably lower than for the 2004 election, and, in some
areas in the south and east, turnout was effectively shut
down altogether as a result of Taliban intimidation.

-----------
SAFE HAVENS
-----------

Afghan-Pakistan Border. Despite the efforts of ISAF and
Afghan and Pakistani security forces, instability along the
Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier continued to provide the
Taliban, al-Qa'ida and other militant groups with leadership
mobility and the ability to rest, recruit, and conduct
training and operational planning that target international
and U.S. interests in particular. Numerous senior and
mid-level Taliban and al-Qa'ida operatives have been captured
or killed, but insurgent and terrorist leaders in Pakistan
continued to plot attacks and to cultivate stronger
operational connections that radiated outward from Pakistan
to affiliates throughout the Middle East, North Africa and
Europe.

Afghanistan. The GIRoA, in concert with ISAF/NATO forces and
the international community, continued efforts to eliminate
terrorist safe havens and build security on the Afghan side
of the border. The porous border areas remained contested,
however, with Taliban, Haqqani, HIG and al-Qa'ida operatives
crossing the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan to conduct
attacks throughout the country. Narcotics trafficking from
Afghanistan into Pakistan, poppy cultivation and criminal
networks are particularly prevalent in the south and west of
the country, constituting a major source of funding for the
insurgency as well as corruption in Afghanistan. Al-Qa'ida
leadership in Pakistan maintained its support to militants
inside Afghanistan, providing funding, training, and
personnel to facilitate terrorist and insurgent operations.
Anti-Coalition organizations such as HIG continued to operate
in coordination with al-Qa'ida, Taliban, and other insurgent
groups, primarily in the east.

End Text

Embassy POC is Poloff Vonda Nichols; 1 (301)490-1042, ext.
8691; email: nicholsvg@state.gov.

RICCIARDONE

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