February 27, 2007

Taliban Claims Attempt on Cheney

File this one under wishful thinking:

A Taliban suicide bomber killed up to 12 people at the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday in an attack the rebels said was aimed at Dick Cheney, but the visiting U.S. vice president was not hurt.

An American and South Korea soldier were killed, as well as a U.S. government contractor whose nationality was unknown, NATO and Korean officials said. NATO said 27 people were wounded.

A Reuters photographer at the scene at Bagram Airbase, 60 km (40 miles) north of Kabul, saw eight bodies in addition to NATO's tally of four dead, putting the toll at 12.

"We wanted to target ... Cheney," Taliban spokesman Mullah Hayat Khan told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.

An terrorism expert cited on WPTF radio stated that there was possibly a leak from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) revealing Cheney's trip to Bagram, which followed on the heels of the Vice President's trip to Pakistan, in which Cheney asked Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to crack down on al Qaeda and Taliban elements operating out of the tribal regions of Pakistan along the Afghan border.

It almost goes without saying that the suicide bombing attempt, while bloody, was a futile effort. Bagram is a huge airbase, and Cheney was far from the edge of the base where the attack occurred, and under multiple layers of security. Almost any other kind of attack—mortars or rockets come to mind—would have still likely failed, but still would have had a far greater chance of success than the truck bomb on the edge of the perimeter. Instead of getting anywhere near the Vice President, the suicide bomber instead killed several soldiers and the rest of the victims appear to be civilian truckers and workers waiting to have their vehicles searched before entering the base.

It will be very interesting to see how Musharraf reacts to this apparent leak from within his nation's security service.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 27, 2007 09:06 AM

Leak? Yank, a "leak" would be indicated by somebody noticing the extra security and assuming the base was under inspection by Karzai's generals or something.

The Taliban knowing VP Cheney was there and *organizing an attack at all* makes it pretty clear that Musharraf is no longer in control of his own security service.

I'm not 100% sure what the solution to Pakistan is. I do know that Pervez Musharraf is not part of it. He's a large part of the problem. If he had cracked down two years ago, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Instead he signed over Waziristan to the Taliban and Al Qaeda and ISI is so badly compromised it might as well be the Taliban's intel arm. In many ways it is.

We need to ask ourselves what other alternatives we have besides Musharraf running Pakistan...because it's becoming increasingly clear that he doesn't have control. If we wait for that to become official, then we have Islamist terrorists with Pak nukes...and they *will* be used against the US.

Posted by: Jared at February 27, 2007 05:14 PM

I wonder if the Taliban phone call came before or after it was announced that Cheney was OK. :)

Two years ago, their attacks seemed a lot more studied and deliberate -- when my company's building got hit, their method and timing suggested careful (though still insufficient) planning on their part to maximize the damage. Taliban "signs" were found (black flag tacked to a wall) in the area indicating an attack coming and for people to clear out, and children were chased away minutes before the blast. The bomber actually survived because he knew the security posture around the building well enough to know that he could drive up, sprint away, and detonate the bomb.

Constrast that with what happened at Bagram the other day. Again, tt was a totally pointless and futile attack -- Cheney was probably never anywhere near that gate at any time anyway. This seems to me to be indicitive of a serious weaking of leadership. The Taliban I encountered were running ops on us requireing surveillance and planning. This new Taliban is committing acts in futility and taking out bystanders, which they seemed very reluctant to do in the past.

Am I saying the Taliban should be discounted or ignored? Of course not. But they're hardly behaving like a formidable group with sound leaders and tactics that are "making a comeback" as some outlets would have us believe.

Posted by: paully at February 27, 2007 08:55 PM

requireing -> requiring :)

Posted by: paully at February 27, 2007 08:56 PM

That is a really horrible story. I am glad Cheney is ok.

Hey, since the conspiracy kooks want to believe the worst about Bush, and also think he is responsible for 9/11 and for most attacks around the world, maybe they will think that George was out to get Dick.

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