Frienemies Strike Again: Two American Advisors Shot in the Head Inside Afghan Interior Ministry

As if things cannot get any worse over there —

According to USAToday, a gunman killed two American military advisers with shots to the back of the head Saturday inside a heavily guarded ministry building, and NATO ordered military workers out of Afghan ministries as protests raged for a fifth day over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. army base.

The LA Times reported that the details of the killings of the two Americans Saturday remained murky hours after the shooting. Although the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force confirmed the deaths of two of its service members in Kabul, it did not disclosed their nationalities.  However, Afghan officials speaking on condition of anonymity reportedly identified the two as American military officers who were advising the Interior Ministry.

Below is an excerpt from a WSJ report:

Top U.S. military officials said they were still trying to determine the identity of the attacker. But one Western official in Kabul said that the two Americans were shot by an Afghan police official who was upset about the burning of Qurans earlier this week at a U.S. military base.
Coalition officials in Kabul dismissed claims by some Afghan officials that the two Americans were killed by a Western colleague.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the two American military officers were found dead in a secure office on the compound by one of their colleagues. It remained unclear who killed the pair, or how the attacker got inside the well-protected part of the ministry, he said.

But other Afghan, Western diplomatic and military officials said that initial reports indicated that the gunman was a member of the Afghan security forces.

Photo by Spc. David Bonnell

Members of the Ministry of Defense Advisors Program hold a meeting with the mock Afghan Minister of Defense during field training at Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, June 9. The civilians will deploy to Afghanistan later this year to assist the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of the Interior become self-sustaining. Photo by Spc. David Bonnell

Also today, the ISAF commander condemns the attack on ISAF personnel at the GIRoA ministry:

KABUL, Afghanistan – “I condemn today’s attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today,” said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

“We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered.”

“For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul,” continued Gen. Allen.

“We are committed to our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to reach our common goal of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan in the near future.”

Damn fake partnership! The military advisors were killed reportedly inside the Command and Control room only accessible by people who know the correct numerical combination. Later news indicate that General Allen has also recalled all international military personnel from the ministries

In January 2012, an Afghan wearing an army uniform shot and killed four French troops and wounded others. Late last year, an Afghan army soldier also shot and killed two members of the French Foreign Legion serving in the NATO force.  Which made French President Sarkozy announced that “The French army is in Afghanistan at the service of the Afghans against terrorism and against the Taliban. The French army is not in Afghanistan so that Afghan soldiers can shoot at them.”

Also in January, an Afghan soldier turned his gun on American military personnel while they were playing volleyball at a camp in southern Afghanistan, killing one and wounding three others before being fatally shot

On April 2011, eight US troops and a US contractor  were killed by an Afghan air force pilot at the Kabul airport.

The NYT reported in early 2012 about a subordinate command’s report on mounting casualties killed by Afghan “allies”:

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history).”

Officials have been calling these incidents, “isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis.”  The NYT cited a classified report which found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, that at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.

This latest attack inside the Ministry of Interior shows that these incidents are not isolated cases perpetuated just by boots-on-the ground soldiers.  We have military officers and unarmed civilians working in all parts of Afghanistan ministries – from Agriculture to Women Affairs.  The military advisors have now been pulled back, but how about the civilians?  Even if they grow eyes on the back of their heads, how can they trust that their Afghan colleagues will not one day pull that trigger?

We are wasting our time with frienemies in Afghanistan.  It’s time to leave and begin reconstruction at home and  not in 2014. It will be appreciated at home.

Domani Spero



4 responses

  1. A retired general recently commented that this latest incident in Afghanistan shows the shallow impact the United States has on this primitive society even after 10 years of rebuilding and reconstruction. We stayed 50 years in the Philippines – in then *President McKinley’s words to “uplift and civilize and christianize” Filipinos.” I suppose 10 years too short to win hearts and minds and uplift and civilize the Afghans. Which is not to say that we have not pacified the Afghan elites and warlords who both benefit from their relationship with the United States.

    Ambassador Crocker was recently quoted in CNN saying, “This is not the time to decide that we are done here. We have got to redouble our efforts. We’ve got to create a situation that al Qaeda is not coming back.”

    Sigh! We’ll be there until 2062 and we’d still be talking about those darn insurgents. Meanwhile back home, the kids are not all right!

    Read more:


  2. I am with Erik on this, and both admire and agree with his comment. We should have left Afghanistan when bin Ladin and al Qaida went over the border, and gone back only if they did. We are not, not, ‘fighting for our freedom’ in that country. We will never make it a different place than it is. The USG is as responsible for the latest deaths as the men who pulled the triggers. The Russians warned us, the British warned us, and we thought in our hubris that we could create a different outcome than they experienced. Didn’t happen, won’t happen, and we seriously need to have left the Afghans to their own world ten years ago.

  3. This is why you should never assume the ability to build a nation out of a country that has not been able to achieve nationhood of its own in centuries. DoS is uniquely not qualified to do this, anyway. We should leave there, and do so with prejudice. If there is a next time, let us simply achieve our military objectives, and then leave. Add the resultant anarchy to the list of disincentives to killing Americans or harboring those who do.

  4. This I am just shaking over. Granted, I was on the dip side, but HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN!!!!
    I have a very nice local group that was debating recently the timing of getting out of Afghanistan. I can only hope that this, not even being able to trust your friends, will accelerate that timing.
    I generally feel strongly that if we make a mess, we should clean it up (something we did not succeed in doing in Iraq), but…. (this is me speechless.)
    I could make some comments about US military personnel literally behaving likes boys in a pi$$ing contest, and about the idiocy of destroying documents without knowing what they are, but an execution of military officers invited in as comrades? I may have to change my who notion of Honor that was finely honed in that region.