Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani
Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani

First, on January 5, came US President Donald Trump’s warning Pakistan that it was not doing enough against terrorism, followed by a US$2 billion cut in aid. Then there followed a series of terror attacks in Afghanistan.

On January 20, gunmen attacked the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, leaving 40 people dead and more than 22 others injured, and on January 27, suicide bombers blew up an explosives-packed ambulance near an Interior Ministry building, which killed at least 103 and injured more than 200 people. Interestingly, that area houses offices of the European Union and High Peace Council in a busy and heavily guarded street in Kabul.

Some points to ponder. How did the attackers manage to drive an ambulance laden with explosives past a police checkpoint into that street without being detected? A British Broadcasting Corp correspondent at the scene reported that it was not easy to get through the police checkpoints since all vehicles are searched and drivers’ identities are checked.

The statement of Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, was ridiculous when he said the attacker got through a security checkpoint after telling the police he was taking a patient to nearby Jamhuriat Hospital. Doesn’t it seem like the drama of a third-grade Bollywood movie?

It does not require any deep thinking to understand that there have been gross intelligence and security failures in Afghanistan lately. But who is responsible for intelligence and security in the country?

We need to remember how the US intelligence services instigated and abetted right-wing terrorism in Italy in late 1969 in the bombing of National Agrarian Bank in Milan’s Piazza Fontana. General Gianadelio Maletti, a former head of Italian military counterintelligence, reportedly discovered during the trial following the attack that a right-wing terrorist cell in the Venice region had been supplied with military explosives from Germany, which were obtained with the help of members of the US intelligence community.

A total of 17 people were killed and 88 injured in the Piazza Fontana bombing. In 1998, Milan Judge Guido Salvini indicted US Navy officer David Carrett on charges of political and military espionage for the Piazza Fontana bombing. There were others accused in the bombing – Sergio Minetto, an Italian official of the US-NATO intelligence network, and Carlo Digilio, who served as the CIA coordinator in Northeastern Italy in the 1960s and 1970s.

On April 11, 1955, a chartered Air India Constellation passenger airliner, the Kashmir Princess, was bombed in the air and crashed into the South China Sea while en route from Bombay to Jakarta, in which 16 people were killed. The explosion was intended to assassinate Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, but he had changed his travel plans.

The time-bomb was the handiwork of a Kuomintang secret agent. In reaction, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement describing the bombing as “murder by the special service organizations of the US and Chiang Kai-shek.”

In a 1971 face-to-face meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Zhou directly asked Henry Kissinger about US involvement in the bombing. Kissinger responded, “As I told the prime minister the last time, he vastly overestimates the competence of the CIA.”

Fast-forward to 2018. The January 27 Kabul attack was precisely planned to be near the offices of the EU and High Peace Council, yet members of the European delegation were in their “safe room” and there were no casualties. Reports quickly poured in that the Taliban had claimed responsibility.

The distance between the US and Pakistan seems to have widened, not only giving the Trump administration reason for going on the offensive  against Pakistan but also finding place to hide its failure in the ‘war against terror,’ which has dragged on for 17 years without any end in sight

Then the Afghan government came to the rescue of President Trump when it conjectured that the Haqqani group had carried out the attack with support from Pakistan, since both are on the United States’ latest blacklist, one for being terror group and the other for supporting it.

Though the truth perhaps will never be out in the open, the distance between the US and Pakistan seems to have widened, not only giving the Trump administration reason for going on the offensive  against Pakistan but also finding place to hide its failure in the “war against terror,” which has dragged on for 17 years without any end in sight.

Afghanistan has become a killing field ever since the US invaded the country on October 7, 2001. The war in Afghanistan has raped the country. Each day human lives are being destroyed, in addition to escalating violence assassinations, bombings, and night raids into houses of suspected insurgents. The Irish documentary Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death shows the mass graves of thousands of victims as found by UN investigators, and how the US blocked investigations into such incidents.

In the ghastly terror attacks of September 11, 2001, some 3,000 people lost their lives and many more were injured. President George W Bush’s reference at the time to a “crusade” against terrorism raised apprehension of a “clash of civilizations” between Christians and Muslims. The US Congress passed legislation titled Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which was signed on  September 18, 2001, by  Bush. The United Nations Security Council did not authorize the US-led military campaign.

Whether in the guise of war against terror the US and its allies are what Bush called “crusade” against Muslims, and, instead of ending it, state powers are busy in escalating to various parts of the world. David Cole and Jules Lobel, in their 2007 book Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror, criticize Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, for their “counterterrorism strategy” at face value, claiming that this strategy has been a “colossal failure.”

In their 2008 article “There Is No ‘War on Terror’,” Edward S Herman and David Peterson argued: “Given the illegality and immorality of this war – now already well into its seventh year – the killing of people in Afghanistan cannot be regarded as ‘legitimate.’”

M Shamsur Rabb Khan

M Shamsur Rabb Khan is assistant professor in the Department of English, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia. He specializes in security issues, foreign relations and terrorism. He is writing a book on right-wing terror in India.

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