Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 06, 2011

Bombing Towards A Sectarian War?

A bomb went off in Kabul today during a Shia Ashura mourning gathering. Some 55 people wwre killed and over 160 were wounded (video, graphic pictures). This happened near the Abdul Fazl shrine in Murad Khani, Kabul's old city, and right in front of the Ministry of Defense and the palace. That area should be secure.

Another bomb went off at a Shiite gathering in Mazar-e-Sharif that killed four and injured 16 others today. Another blast took place in Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, wounding 6 people, though it is not yet known if that one is related.

One source said the Pakistani militant group Sepah-e-Sahaba (also called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) claimed responsibility for the Kabul blast. The group is known for sectarian killings in Pakistan but has up to now not been active in Afghanistan.

Indeed during the last years sectarian killings like this have been quite rare in Afghanistan. The attacks today seem intentionally designed to incite sectarian violence.

After the attack mourners chanted anti-US and anti-Pakistan slogans. After the bombing in Mazar-e-Sharif a scuffle between Shia and Sunni students at the Mazar University turned violent. Five people were injured before the police intervened.

In an email to the media Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed strongly condemned the bombing of Shiites in Kabul and Mazar and called them an act of their enemies. He blamed the "invaders" for the bombing and claimed they were designed to are foment insecurity to extend the foreign presence.

These incidents remind me of the bombing of the al-Askari mosque in Samara, Irag, in 2006. That bombing, done by people in Iraqi Special Forces uniforms, ignited a brutal sectarian civil war. Then the officials blamed Al-Qaeda in Iraq for that atrocity but other claimed that the U.S. was behind it.

As always the question that needs to be asked is: "Cui bono?"

Into who's plans does this fit and who might believe to benefit from an additional sectarian aspect in war in Afghanistan? Whoever it is is playing with fire.

Posted by b on December 6, 2011 at 14:10 UTC | Permalink


Qui Bono indeed.

So Radio Liberty’s Islamabad bureau claims Pakistans Lashkar-e Jangwi verbally claimed responsibility ... a highly credible source, totally independent, objective and outside any governments control or influence, not.

Yes, uh that would be 'Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty' specifically founded and funded to broadcast Black Propaganda since 1949 to Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East...

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 6 2011 16:10 utc | 1

they might have

trying to provoke Iran to enter Afghanistan? It worked so well with the Soviet Union ...

Posted by: somebody | Dec 6 2011 16:29 utc | 2

"Into who's plans does this fit and who might believe to benefit from an additional sectarian aspect in war in Afghanistan?"

Creating turmoil plays into the hands of the folks who lust for hegemony in the grab for resources. Gee, I wonder who that could be?

Posted by: ben | Dec 6 2011 16:32 utc | 3

there are a few things the Us are really good at - good luck to the Afghanis

Posted by: claudio | Dec 6 2011 16:38 utc | 4

actually I am not sure, chaos is good for business ...

Posted by: somebody | Dec 6 2011 16:42 utc | 5

We will see a never ending list of purely fabricated adversaries, the semantics (labels) chosen on a purely situational basis. Former foes will become allies, and former allies will become the boogie man d'jour. The whole narrative is depending on the propaganda required to conceal the gross malfeasance of our "leaders" in engaing us in military adventures that are unwinnable and complately out of control. The only SURE outcome is the guaranteed hatred our policvies are instilling in the minds of billions of Muslims. OPur fabricated foe becomes our actual foe, no matter what labels the criminals in DC choose to use in defining various sects. They ALL are learning to hate us. The falsehood, this scam, known as the GWOT, is becoming a reality. These pieces of shit in DC have have launched a nightmare that has endangered us all, and will result in global chaos and calamity. They, one and all, shut be hung for treason.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 6 2011 16:52 utc | 6

On a similar vein I thought that it may have been 'payback' for the RQ-170. Or exporting the 'Al Qaeda' anti-shiite holy war to Afghanistan. Which clearly shows who shares interests with 'Al Qaeda'.

On a different topic it seems there is an on going attempt for a 'color revolution' going on in Moscu.

Posted by: ThePaper | Dec 6 2011 16:55 utc | 7

From 'Our man in Kabul', Jon Boone at the Guardian

At least 55 dead in Kabul suicide attack on Shia pilgrimsA Pakistani militant group with close ties to al-Qaida said it had carried out the attack, although security sources could not confirm the group's involvement.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility in a phonecall to Radio Mashaal, a Pashto-language radio station set up by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

General Mohammad Zahir, the chief of Kabul CID, said he believed LeJ was involved in Tuesday's attack, although a LeJ operative in Pakistan told the Guardian his group was not involved.

LeJ, whose operational leadership hides in Pakistan's wild tribal areas, is considered to be the Pakistani militant group that is closest to al-Qaida; it is also closely tied to the Pakistani Taliban.

The theme would appear to be Pakistan is evil, sponsors Taliban, ie Lashkar-e-Jhangvi = Taliban = Pakistan. Reliably sourced from RFE/RL, then used as a source and expanded upon by the likes of Boone.

Divide and Rule, faux Civil War, incitement of any form of divisiveness whether social, political, ethnic, religious, economic or otherwise for exploitation is an historical operational trademark of ? And the bonus, sticks a finger in the eye of Iran re situ of Shia in Afghanistan.

No apology to Pakistan from the 'Drones r Us' Prez, but after ~10 days a message has been sent ?

So far about the only US-NATO achievement in Afghanistan is supplying 93% of the worlds opium and the largest producer of hashish in the world, so deja vu.

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 6 2011 17:01 utc | 8

Thanks for recalling Samarra, b -- very appropriate. Also interesting was that it fortuitously delayed the US withdrawal from Iraq. Wasn't that convenient.

SEC. GATES: “Well, what I’m saying to you is, though, you had one strategy under way until attack on the Samarra mosque. After that and the development of the sectarian violence that was being stoked by extremists — this wasn’t spontaneous — there was a shift in strategy, and instead of sending troops home, the troops that were supposed to be sent home were kept — or the troop level was kept.”

The main theme of yesterday's Bonn Conference -- "hosted by Germany and chaired by Afghanistan", ha, ha -- was the increasing responsibility of Afghanistan for security. Of course that's not possible, so we may see a replay of the Samarra scenario -- divide and rule. Why not?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 6 2011 17:09 utc | 9

My rule of thumb--if a "terrorist attack" targets people, it's a false flag attack designed to cause fear, chaos and civil war. If it targets the military, police, or symbols of authority and economic power, it's caused by insurgents.

Insurgents don't usually target people, because they can't afford to alienate wide swaths of the population. Occupiers don't give a damn who they alienate. Their strategy is to overwhelm, pure and simple.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 6 2011 17:11 utc | 10

or just right wing crazy, JohnH

Posted by: somebody | Dec 6 2011 17:34 utc | 11


There's a long history of militantly anti-Shia Pakistani groups doing precisely this kind of thing going back to the 1980's, if not before. I don't think it remotely stretches credibility that they would take the opportunity to do this in Afghanistan - to be honest, it's the reasonable default assumption.

There are also local Afghan precedents for this - during the civil war/Taliban ascendancy in the 1990's there were a number of examples of tit-for-tat, sectarian massacres. The Taliban and the Hazara Shia in particular have a record of being pretty vicious to each other.

Posted by: dan | Dec 6 2011 18:35 utc | 12

Just saw a live feed from a Stephen Tankel talk at the New America foundation. Tankel's research is about the various Lashkars in Pakistan. He said that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been inactive since 2002-3 and he doubts that they, if they still exist at all, were responsible.

This doesn't fit the general pattern of attacks in Afghanistan. All the experts (see last link in above piece) say there was no current Shia-Sunni strife in Afghanistan. It is totally against the current insurgent/Taliban strategy which needs the people behind it.

Posted by: b | Dec 6 2011 19:43 utc | 13

I also remember the Samarra blast, which at the time followed months of rumours and speculation that the US was going with "The Salvador Option" in Iraq, namely turning to the Shia death squads like Wolf Brigade in response to the massive Sunni insurgency, which was fast bleeding the US.

The Samarra mosque explosion certainly marked the change from attacking the US Military full on to Sunni vs Shia violence of the civil war 2006-2008. I also remember the evidence of the blast which only destroyed the golden dome of the mosque. The accounts that plastic explosives were drilled into the dome by men using scaffolding (all in all a very professional job for which no one died in the bombing and no suspects were ever caught).

So now we have Afghanistan. Shia Iran has been recently been making moves against CIA agents (in Iran and Lebanon), downing a US drone, and expelling the British ambassador. Now during the Asura celebrations 3 blasts occur similtaneously in Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif killing almost 70 Shia pilgrims. The Taliban deny knowledge. This also comes as 33 Shia were killed on Monday in seperate bombings in Iraq (and no one can pin those on the Taliban of Pakistani extremists).

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Dec 6 2011 20:17 utc | 14

Mabey it's the saudis

Posted by: nikon | Dec 7 2011 1:46 utc | 15

"Just saw a live feed from a Stephen Tankel talk at the New America foundation"

I don't hold much stock with anything coming out of the NAF. Watching Clemons' self-neutering sell out, I believe the entire crew of the NAF is questionable in regards to integrity. Just another agenda driven Stink Tank, for sale to the highest bidder.

I note Clemons, after his glowing critique of Bachman's line of shit that she peddled during the foreign policy debate, has failed to comment on her brilliant idea of closing our embassy in Iran. I suppose a time machine comes with her candidacy, because she'd have to travel on back to 1978 to pull off such an amazing feat. Obviously Clemons has great respect for a dangerous level of ignorance being exhibited by prospective Presidents vying for the throne.

One wonders why they call these cesspools "Think Tanks". Wouldn't a more approprite term, to describe such organizations, be "Vermin Vats"???? Certainly, the AEI and the Heritage Foundation sit easier on such a description. The NAF? Well, if the likes of Clemons is any indication.....

What will these people think of themselves a decade from now, when the full extent of the carnage, chaos, and global misery they have unleashed becomes undeniably obvious? Will they scurry for rocks to hide under like the Nazis did, or will these megalomaniacal dirtbags try to twist and mold themselves into some sort of redeeming posture, as if there is an excuse for such malfeascent and evil machinations?

Actuallly, one wishes Bachman COULD reign supreme over Clemons' world, if he has such great respect for her ignorance. But ONLY over Clemon's world. Such stupidity and ignorance, empowered as "leadership", is undeserved by us poor slobs here outside the beltway. Shit, I don't even want some ignorant asshole like Bachman as a neighbor, much less as a President.

Tell me, "b", would you trust the NAF to manage your personal affairs??? If not, one wonders how much trust we should put in the "thinking" that oozes out of it. I see more nefarious "scheming" than I do constructive "thinking" coming out of these organizations.

(JohnH and DonBacon, good to "see" you!!!!!)

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 7 2011 1:50 utc | 16

Wow - no wonder the lying heads in the USG are rambling on about fake NATO suicide bombings in AfPak, Iran's non-existent nukes, and Russia's elections.
From TomDispatch, Dec 1...

These were the last two of the 10 Americans whose deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq were announced by the Pentagon Thanksgiving week. The other eight came from Apache Junction, Arizona; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Navarre, Florida; Witchita, Kansas; San Jose, California; Moline, Illinois; and Danville, California. Six of them died from improvised explosive devices (roadside bombs), assumedly without ever seeing the Afghan enemies who killed them. One died of “indirect fire” and another “while conducting combat operations.” On such things, Defense Department press releases are relatively tight-lipped, as was the Army, for instance, when it released news that same week of 17 “potential suicides” among active-duty soldiers in October

If those numbers are typical then the GWOT buffoons have proven that Yankee war mongers are still their own worst enemy.

I still maintain that the Yankees will be out of Afghanistan by this time next year - 2012.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 7 2011 3:26 utc | 17

Terrorists can also bestow favors

On the Afghan chessboard, it is impossible to accept Tuesday's twin terror strikes on Shi'ite worshipers at face value. The ugly specter of sectarian killings is a sudden departure from even the darkest days of the past decade. The party that stands to lose most from escalating tensions is the Taliban, with Iran and Pakistan big losers too. United States interests are, paradoxically, very well served if Western troops become the only credible provider of security in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 7 2011 12:46 utc | 18

Gorbachev allies with "West":

Gorbachev told the Interfax news agency that authorities must hold a fresh election or deal with a rising tide of discontent.
"More and more people are starting to believe that the election results are not fair," he told Interfax. "I believe that ignoring public opinion discredits the authorities and destabilises the situation."

Gorbachev added that authorities "must admit that there have been numerous falsifications and ballot stuffing".

Posted by: Martin | Dec 7 2011 14:18 utc | 19

POA--IMHO Clemons site was most noteworthy for what it refused to talk about--like the Iraq war. Self-neutered, indeed!

Fortunately, posters brought life to a site which seemed to paint a fresh veneer over the ususal BS, not at all unlike Gingrich's "fresh views" of issues designed to advance the interests of the monied classes and corrupt government contractors.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 7 2011 16:04 utc | 20

Alex Strick van Linschoten writing from Kandahar Entropy and insurgent radicalisation: an ISAF goal?

The capture-and-kill raids have been a quantifiable tool in the hands of ISAF to target the insurgency, but have they ended up radicalising the Taliban movement as an unwanted side-effect? There are numerous indications that this is the case. The insurgent commanders who replace those removed from the battlefield in ISAF operations are, for the most part, younger and often of a different ideological bent than their older predecessors.

The extent to which this is a goal of the ISAF campaign or just a side-effect remains a significant question, however. Off-record briefings with American military officials or reports of conversations with special forces in the field relatively frequently elicit admissions that it is an explicit goal of the capture-or-kill raids to “radicalise the insurgency.” The idea seems to have come over from the US military experience in Iraq. Sidestepping the extent of US agency in radicalising actors in that conflict, a more radical Taliban would supposedly carry out more atrocities and, in so doing, would themselves drive a wedge between the insurgency and the people. In effect, the idea is a hangover from the golden days of counterinsurgency rhetoric.

International political and military actors didn’t come to Afghanistan with malign intentions, but the unintended consequences of their actions constantly threaten to overturn the very few unambiguously positive effects of their presence. Foreign money — in all its different forms — has arguably had more of a corrosive effect than the war itself.

Yesterday’s attack on an explicitly sectarian target may turn out to be yet another unintended consequence. The more radicalised the younger commanders become, the more they’re willing to tolerate people from Pakistan coming in to ‘help out’; just take a look at Kunar and Nuristan today. By the same token, the less control the Afghan Taliban’s central leadership has over things inside Afghanistan, the more chance we have for violence on the ground to be hijacked by external groups with their own agendas: witness the Rabbani assassination.

A radicalised mid-level leadership that claims less and less allegiance to a senior leadership may be what the ISAF campaign intended to promote, but it can only harm the Afghan civilian population.

Posted by: b | Dec 7 2011 16:07 utc | 21

the Us did that in Kosovo, supporting the KLA against Rugova

Posted by: claudio | Dec 7 2011 16:49 utc | 22


I'd agree that it's out of character for the Afghan Taliban of late, and that it's more likely that Pakistani-based groups were behind it. I would note, though, that the bombings also coincided with the Bonn conference - boycotted by Pakistan, whilst the Taliban were never invited. I've no idea how the bombings affected the conference mood, or what the various delegations will have made of Karzai heading home prematurely, but it's not a stretch to suggest that there's messaging from one or both absent parties at play here - something along the lines of "we can fuck this up anytime we like".

In both the Kabul and the Mazar bombings the casualties were predominantly Hazara Shia. Whilst it's true that the AT are becoming more sensitive to civilian casualties, I'd guess that they are primarily concerned with the Pashtun civilian population in the areas where they fighting most actively, ie the southern/eastern heartlands. The next question is whether the deaths of 19 civilians due to a roadside bomb today in Sangin district is a connected bit of retaliation, or just part of the background noise.

On a side note, it was quite amusing to watch AJE's coverage of Clinton's speech at Bonn, the NATO delegation in the row behind her, and the Iranian delegation in the row behind NATO, but clearly still in the frame. The IRI delegation were obviously having fun peeking over both NATO's and the US's shoulders! Whoever arranged the positions of the delegations has a great sense of humour.

Posted by: dan | Dec 7 2011 17:33 utc | 23

This attack on a Hazara Shi shrine, as b suggests, could signal a new phase in Afghanistan. LeJ has a long history of targeting the Hazara Shia community in Pakistan. The Hazara are numerous in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and make up much of Afghanistan's Shia minority. There has long been enmity between the Sunni Taliban and the Shia Hazara who are located primarily in the central part of Afghanistan.

The Taliban maintain the position that Hazaras schools can only open after once the Taliban come to power. Anyone caught receiving governmental salaries for any reason is warned to fear for their life.

According to the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, this level of insecurity could potentially drive Hazara youth and other desperate individuals to want to take up arms – not just against the Taliban and the outside insurgents but possibly even against the members of the community that still call for peace accommodation in the face of the growing crisis.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 7 2011 17:45 utc | 24

@dan and Don - a sectarian attack does not make sense for Pakistan and does not make sense for the Taliban.

Both want the U.S. out and a rather peaceful Afghanistan. They do not want a sectarian fight. The only one winning in such a fight would be, as M K Bhadrakumar explains, the U.S. occupiers:

In sum, US interests are, paradoxically, very well served in the current scenario if sectarian tensions escalate in Afghanistan and Western troops become the only really credible provider of security. That is to say, any number of forces could be interested in indirectly buttressing the US's regional strategies.

Posted by: b | Dec 7 2011 20:07 utc | 25

in response to #14 - the "Salvador" option got started in early 2005, shortly after Negroponte arrived in Iraq. It was well underway in the summer/fall of 2005.

Here is an article on the Wolf Brigade and the US involvement and WikiLeaks revelations from 2010:

Posted by: Susan | Dec 8 2011 0:04 utc | 26

according to that article, the Wolf Brigade got started in late 2004. I remember hearing about them in early 2005.

Posted by: Susan | Dec 8 2011 0:05 utc | 27

also, just last month, Iraq executed a guy from Tunisia for the Samarra bombing in 2006.

There were supposedly Iraqis and some Saudi guy involved, but I have not heard that they were captured or tried, much less executed. And I certainly don't know what the evidence was, or if the guy was really guilty as charged. Here is a story on it:

Posted by: Susan | Dec 8 2011 0:12 utc | 28

from POA: What will these people think of themselves a decade from now, when the full extent of the carnage, chaos, and global misery they have unleashed becomes undeniably obvious?

I think the full extent of what was done to Iraq and the Iraqis is clearly available, if they want to look. But they don't, and the media accommodates them.... and so very few Americans (much less the warmongers) know anything about it. And even if they did know, they would not give a shit.

Posted by: Susan | Dec 8 2011 0:21 utc | 29

@b - I agree with your Samarra scenario, that it is in the US's interest (and not Pakistan's) to stoke sectarian strife as in Iraq. General Caldwell, the Afghan National Army (ANA) trainer, has been touting the ANA's size and ability to take over as the US phases out. But the truth is that the ANA is a paper army, and that was even highlighted in a recent Pentagon report.

from the DOD report:
* "The ANA has grown dramatically over the past two years and the majority of this force was fielded without receiving any professional training at the branch schools."
* "The ANSF [army & police] continues to require enabling support, including air (both transport and close air support), logistics, ISR, and medical, from coalition resources to perform at the level necessary to produce the security effects required for Transition."
*"Although recruiting and retention are continuing at a strong pace, if the high levels of attrition seen during this reporting period continue, there is a risk that the ANA will not be able to sustain the recruitment and training costs currently incurred to achieve the October 2012 growth goal."

The ANA -- no professional training, no combat support or combat service support capability and high attrition -- even before entering combat. And Afghanistan isn't Iraq -- it's more difficult. All the fuel to US outposts has to be flown in, for one example, because the roads are too dangerous. The mostly illiterate ANA will never be able to do that. Never, never.

So there has to be another strategy that forces a change in US strategy that can be defended -- sectarian strife, stoked by Black Ops. Divide and rule.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 8 2011 1:26 utc | 30

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