• Taliban Covert Operatives Seized Kabul, Other Afghan Cities From Within

    From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Mon Dec 6 14:48:48 2021
    Taliban Covert Operatives Seized Kabul, Other Afghan Cities From Within
    By Trofimov & Stancati, 11/28/21, Wall St. Journal

    KABUL—Undercover Taliban agents—often clean-shaven,
    dressed in jeans & sporting sunglasses—spent years
    infiltrating Afghan govt ministries, universities,
    businesses & aid organizations.

    Then, as U.S. forces were completing their withdrawal in
    August, these operatives stepped out of the shadows in
    Kabul & other big cities across Afghanistan, surprising
    their neighbors & colleagues. Pulling their weapons from
    hiding, they helped the Taliban rapidly seize control
    from the inside.

    The pivotal role played by these clandestine cells is
    becoming apparent only now, 3 months after the U.S. pullout.
    At the time, Afghan cities fell one after another like
    dominoes with little resistance from the American-backed
    govt’s troops. Kabul collapsed in a matter of hours, with
    hardly a shot fired.

    “We had agents in every organization & department,” boasted
    Mawlawi Mohammad Salim Saad, a senior Taliban leader who
    directed suicide-bombing operations & assassinations inside
    the capital before its fall. “The units we had already
    present in Kabul took control of the strategic locations.”

    Saad’s men belong to the so-called Badri force of the
    Haqqani network, a part of the Taliban that is designated
    as a terrorist org by the U.S. because of its links to
    al Qaeda. Sitting before a bank of closed-circuit TV monitors
    in the Kabul airport security command center, which he now
    oversees, he said, “We had people even in the office that
    I'm occupying today.”

    The 20-year war in Afghanistan was often seen as a fight
    between bands of Taliban insurgents—bearded men operating
    from mountain hide-outs—& Afghan & U.S. forces struggling
    to control rural terrain. The endgame, however, was won by
    a large underground network of urban operatives.

    On Aug. 15, after President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul, it was
    these men who seized the capital city while the Taliban’s
    more conventional forces remained outside.

    Mohammad Rahim Omari, a midlevel commander in the Badri
    force, was working undercover at his family’s gasoline-
    trading business in Kabul before he was called into action
    that day. He said he & 12 others were dispatched to an
    Afghan intel service compound in the east of the city, where
    they disarmed the officers on duty & stopped them from
    destroying computers & files.

    Other cells fanned out to seize other govt & military
    installations & reached Kabul airport, where the U.S. was
    mounting a massive evacuation effort. They took control of
    the airport’s perimeter until better-armed Taliban troops
    arrived from the countryside in the morning. One agent,
    Mullah Rahim, was even dispatched to secure the Afghan
    Inst of Archaeology & its treasures from potential looters.

    Omari said the Badri force had compartmentalized cells
    working on different tasks—armed fighters, fundraisers &
    those involved with propaganda & recruitment.

    “Now these 3 types of mujahedeen have reunited,” he said.
    Omari himself is now deputy police chief in Kabul’s 12th

    Their success has helped boost the influence of the
    Haqqanis within the overall Taliban movement. Badri was
    founded by Badruddin Haqqani, who was killed in a U.S.
    drone strike in Pakistan in 2012. It now is under the
    ultimate command of his brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani,
    who is in charge of Afghanistan’s internal security as
    its new interior minister.

    Named after the Battle of Badr that was won by Prophet
    Muhammad in 624, the Badri force includes several subgroups.
    The best known is its special-ops unit, Badri 313, whose
    fighters in high-end helmets & body armor were deployed
    next to U.S. Marines at the Kabul airport in the two weeks
    between the fall of Kabul & the completion of the American

    Kamran, who didn’t want his surname to be used, was tasked
    with taking over his alma mater, Kabul University, & the
    Ministry of Higher Education.

    A 30-year-old from Wardak province west of Kabul, he said
    he became a Taliban recruiter when he was pursuing a
    master’s in Arabic at the university in 2017. He estimates
    that, over the years, he persuaded some 500 people, mostly
    students, to join the insurgency. To maintain his cover, he
    shaved his chin, wore sunglasses & dressed in suits or jeans.

    “Many of our friends who had beards were targeted,” he
    recalled. “I was above suspicion. While many of our low-
    ranking friends were arrested, I wasn’t. Even though I
    was their leader.”

    Many of his acquaintances—former classmates, teachers &
    guards—first realized he was a member of the Taliban when
    he showed up with a gun on Aug. 15, he said. “Many employees
    of the ministry & the entire staff of the university knew me.
    They were surprised to see me,” said Kamran, whose new job
    is head of security for Kabul’s several universities.

    Kamran has since adopted the Taliban’s trademark look: a
    black turban, a white shalwar kameez & a long beard. As for
    his suits & jeans, they are gathering dust in his closet.
    “Those aren’t our traditional outfits,” he said. “I don’t
    think I'll have to wear them again.”

    Similar Taliban cells operated in other major Afghan
    cities. In Kandahar, Afghanistan’s 2nd-largest metropolis,
    university lecturer Ahmad Wali Haqmal said he repeatedly
    asked Taliban leaders for permission to join the armed
    struggle against the U.S.-backed govt after he completed
    his bachelor’s degree in Shariah law.

    “I was ready to take the AK-47 & go because no Afghan can
    tolerate the invasion of their country,” he recalled. “But
    then our elders told us no, don’t come here, stay over
    there, work in the universities because these are also our
    people & the media & the world are deceiving them about us.”

    The Taliban sent Haqmal to India to earn a master’s in
    human rights from Aligarh Muslim Univ, he said. When he
    returned to Kandahar, he was focused on recruitment &
    propaganda for the Taliban. After the fall of Kabul, he
    became the chief spokesman for the Taliban-run finance

    Fereshta Abbasi, an Afghan lawyer, said she'd long been
    suspicious about a man who worked alongside her at a
    fortified compound, Camp Baron near the Kabul airport,
    that hosted offices for development projects funded by
    the U.S. & other Western countries.

    But it wasn’t until the day after the fall of Kabul—when
    the man appeared on TV clutching a Kalashnikov rifle—that
    she discovered he was in fact a Taliban commander. “I was
    shocked,” said Abbasi, who's now based in London.

    The commander, Assad Massoud Kohistani, said in an
    interview with CNN that women should cover their faces.

    A person familiar with Kohistani’s employment history
    said he worked for a USAID-funded irrigation project & was
    previously employed by a UN agency as a finance officer.
    The U.S. Agency for Int'l Development, asked about
    Kohistani, said it subjects its Afghan programs to
    counterterrorism partner vetting.

    Run by Westerners, Camp Baron included a hotel with a
    restaurant that openly served beer & other alcoholic
    drinks. Abbasi, like many female colleagues working at
    Camp Baron, wore a loose head scarf in the office, &
    sometimes none at all. “I can’t imagine how angry he must
    have been with us,” she said.

    Saad, the Badri commander, said he was shocked by his
    initial encounters with Kabul residents like Abbasi as
    he arrived to take charge at the Kabul airport at 7 a.m.
    on Aug. 16. Many of them screamed “You are death” at the
    Taliban, he recalled.

    “It was painful to see Afghan women flee abroad, leaving
    their bags behind,” he said. “The generation of the past
    20 years hadn’t seen us at all and were afraid of us.”


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  • From El Castor@21:1/5 to imbibe@mindspring.com on Mon Dec 6 23:09:11 2021
    On Mon, 6 Dec 2021 14:48:48 -0800 (PST), "(David P.)"
    <imbibe@mindspring.com> wrote:

    Taliban Covert Operatives Seized Kabul, Other Afghan Cities From Within
    By Trofimov & Stancati, 11/28/21, Wall St. Journal

    KABULUndercover Taliban agentsoften clean-shaven,
    dressed in jeans & sporting sunglassesspent years
    infiltrating Afghan govt ministries, universities,
    businesses & aid organizations. >https://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-covert-operatives-seized-kabul-other-afghan-cities-from-within-11638095401

    A story that made the rounds at the early stages of the collapse was
    that commanders of government troops were contacted by Taliban
    operatives and told to switch sides and turn over their men and
    American supplied equipment -- else they would be killed when the
    Taliban took over. It was apparently a very persuasive argument.

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