An Afghan policewoman gunned down a US military adviser inside the Interior Ministry today. The insider, or green-on-blue, attack is the first in nearly six weeks, and the first recorded by a female member of the Afghan security forces.
The policewoman, who was identified as Nargis, is "assigned to the gender and equality department" at the Afghan Interior Ministry, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.
"She fired one shot at the advisor, a construction engineer, in the head at close range," according to the Afghan news agency. The policewoman's motivation for shooting the civilian adviser is not know. She is currently in Afghan custody.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a civilian contractor was killed in Kabul, but did not provide any details of the attack.
"A contracted civilian employee of the International Security Assistance Force died after being shot by a woman wearing an Afghan police uniform in Kabul, Afghanistan, today," ISAF stated in a press release. "The incident is currently under investigation."
According to TOLONews, the attacker, a married woman who lived for a time as a refugee in Iran and Pakistan, had recently returned from a government-sponsored trip to Egypt. During that trip, she disappeared for two days, later telling her superiors she had gotten lost. They had not mentioned the incident in their report on the trip. Her husband is a civilian employee of the Interior Ministry, TOLO reported.
Today's attack is very similar to the shooting at the Interior Ministry on Feb. 25, 2012, when an Afghan policeman gunned down two US military officers inside the headquarters before escaping. The two officers were shot at close range; at least one was shot in the head.
There have been 43 insider attacks reported so far this year, resulting in the deaths of 61 ISAF military and civilian personnel (note: ISAF does not disclose data on all such attacks; ISAF has told The Long War Journal that the overall number of attacks is "classified"). Last year, there were 15 such attacks reported, and in 2010 there were 5. The green-on-blue attacks now account for more than 16 percent of ISAF's casualties so far this year. Last year, such attacks accounted for 6 percent of ISAF's casualties. In 2010, green-on-blue attacks made up just 2 percent of ISAF's casualties. See LWJ report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, for more information.
There have now been four green-on-blue attacks in the capital of Kabul, resulting in the deaths of 12 ISAF personnel, according to statistics maintained by The Long War Journal. Three of those attacks have taken place this year.
Today's attack is the first since Nov. 11, when an Afghan soldier opened fire on British troops in the Nad Ali district in Helmand province. One British soldier was killed and one was wounded in the November attack; the Afghan shooter was wounded in return fire.
Insider attacks a key part of Taliban strategy
In October, Taliban emir Mullah Omar released an Eid al-Adha message that urged followers to "[i]increase Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy and to bring about better order and array in the work." The statement continued: "We call on the Afghans who still stand with the stooge regime to turn to full-fledged cooperation with their Mujahid people like courageous persons in order to protect national interests and to complete independence of the country. Jihadic activities inside the circle of the State militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency if God willing."
Omar had previously addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks at length in a statement released on Aug. 16. Omar claimed that the Taliban "cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year," and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the "Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration" department, "with branches ... now operational all over the country," to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]
As insider attacks continue to spike, Coalition officials are starting to acknowledge that the Taliban are behind a larger proportion of the attacks, and ISAF has intensified its efforts against the perpetrators. Many of the attackers appear to come from the eastern Afghan provinces, a BBC reporter wrote in September, where Taliban influence is prevalent. And in early October, ISAF commanders admitted that attackers from Pakistan with links to the Taliban and its subgroup, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, were significantly involved in the attacks, the Associated Press reported.