Kabul funeral suicide bombers trained in Pakistan, Afghan intelligence say

The three suicide bombers who killed 20 people and wounded scores more during a complex attack at a funeral at a Kabul cemetery trained at a Pakistani madrassa, according to Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. The Afghan Taliban has denied involvement in the attack, which has gone unclaimed, and said it was “the result of internal enemy feuds.”

The NDS claimed it detained a would-be suicide bomber who was supposed to be blowing himself up along with three others at yesterday’s funeral for the son of an Afghan senator who was killed after security forces opened fire during a protest in Kbaul a day earlier. Twenty people were killed and 89 more were wounded as the three suicide bombers detonated among the crowd of mourners, according to TOLONews. Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah, and the acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, were present at the funeral but were not injured.

The NDS claimed that they arrested one of the suicide bombers, who decided not to execute the attack. A video confession of the erstwhile suicide bomber was posted on the NDS Facebook page.

According to the NDS, the suicide bombers trained at the Mawlawi Ahmad Madrassa in Chaman, a border town in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province that is a known hub for the Taliban and a host of jihadists. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry has linked the Mawlawi Ahmad Madrassa to the bombing that killed five Emirati diplomats in Kandahar province earlier this year, according to VOA News.

Baluchistan province is seeded with hundreds of madrassas and camps that are known to recruit, indoctrinate and train Taliban fighters and future leaders. The Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, or central leadership council, is also known as the Quetta Shura because it is based in Baluchistan’s provincial capital. A host of cities and towns such as Zhob, Killi Nalai, Qila Saifullah, Loralai, Chaman, Pishin, Kuchlak, Ahmad Wal, Dalbandin, Chagai, and Girdi Jangal host the Taliban and provide vital support for the group’s activities in Afghanistan.

Well-developed Taliban networks in these cities and towns play a vital role in ensuring the group can recruit, train, and arm new fighters.  These networks also provide safe areas for existing Taliban units to regroup as well as give their fighters and commanders an opportunity to visit their families; and gives Taliban leaders a chance to organize new offensives. Taliban recruiters, fundraisers, financiers, training camp commanders, and ideologues operate unmolested, and often with the support of Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

Afghan Taliban denies role in funeral attack

While the NDS has not explicitly stated that the Kabul funeral attack was carried out by the Taliban, the fact that it has linked the suicide bombers to the Mawlawi Ahmad Madrassa is a clear indication that the NDS is accusing the Taliban of complicity. The Mawlawi Ahmad Madrassa is run by the Afghan Taliban.

The Taliban has denied involvement in yesterday’s triple suicide attack. Zabihullah Mujahid, one of the group’s main spokesmen, instead accused rival factions within the Afghan government of the attack.

“Blast at funeral ceremony in Srai Shamli #Kabul has nothing to do with Mujahidin, but is the result of internal enemy feuds,” Mujahid said in a statement released yesterday shortly after the attack.

The funeral bombing has yet to be claimed. The Islamic State has not issued a statement claiming credit for the triple suicide attack.

If the funeral attack goes unclaimed, it will be the second major suicide bombing in Kabul in the past week that has not been credited to a jihadist group in the region. The May 31 suicide attack, which used a truck packed with thousands of pounds of explosives that was then detonated in the diplomatic quarters in Kabul and resulted in killing at least eighty people and wounded more than 400.

The Afghan government accused the Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban faction, of executing the May 31 attack in Kabul. However, the Taliban denied any involvement in that attack.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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