Afghan Intelligence Breaks Up Alleged Kabul Suicide Bomb Cell
By Barry Newhouse
03 February 2009
Afghan intelligence officials say they have arrested 17 men accused of organizing a series of suicide bomb attacks in Kabul during the past two years.
The men are blamed for six suicide-bomb attacks that Afghan officials say killed 20 civilians and wounded about 120 others.
Afghanistan's intelligence chief Saeed Ansari says the men were arrested during the past month from several different locations in Kabul.
He says Afghan intelligence agents quickly reacted after last month's suicide attack near the German Embassy, and they were able to arrest members of one of the most dangerous terrorist networks in Kabul.
Afghan officials have not explained what evidence ties the men to the attacks or to the militant groups that have allegedly been sponsoring them. Ansari said the men have links to the Pakistani jihadi group Harakat al-Mujahideen as well as Sirajuddin Haqqani, an Afghan militant commander wanted by the U.S. military.
He says the suspects confessed that they helped guide the explosions, they prepared the equipment and the bombs.
During a news conference in Kabul, Ansari showed a video of one of the attackers identified as a Pakistani named Yassar.
He says "We belong to Haqqani's group and I am sorry that I have done this." He said clerics had told him he must perform jihad or he would be treated as a non-believer when he died. He asked for forgiveness.
Afghan officials say the arrested men have claimed that all the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks were Pakistani nationals and were trained in Pakistan's Taliban-dominated tribal areas. Ansari also suggested the attacks may have been supported by Pakistan's spy agency.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that its military or spy agencies still secretly support pro-Taliban militias, as they did in the past. But Afghan, Indian and U.S. officials say there is evidence of spy agency links to attacks in Kabul - in particular last July's bombing of the Indian Embassy.
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