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Before Kabul attack, car-bomb plot with Pak 'link' was aborted

Before Kabul attack, car-bomb plot with Pak 'link' was aborted

Author: Pranab Dhal Samanta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 1, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/343190.html

As India and Afghanistan investigate the suicide bomb attack on the Indian mission in Kabul, it's learnt that on four occasions, both sides had specific prior information of attacks on Indian assets in Afghanistan. Of these, one was foiled at an advanced stage in 2006 and two terrorists were also arrested who, in their interrogation, are said to have revealed links with Pakistan.

Similarly, a rocket attack was planned against the Indian consulate in Jalalabad four years ago, where again a terrorist was arrested who had Pakistan links. Both these cases, along with details of the current case, sources said, will be crucial evidence of Pakistan's role in the blasts when the issue is formally discussed.

It's reliably learnt that on August 7, 2006, the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) issued an advisory following inputs from Afghan agencies that an attack was planned on 'India House', residence of the Indian Ambassador in Kabul, targeting the Ambassador on the eve of Independence Day.

What is not known is that based on this, a Pakistani national Zahir Shinwari was caught near Pul-e-Charkhi in Kabul on August 14 with 10 kg explosive material packed in cooking oil containers.

His interrogation led to a second arrest of one Ahmad Shah, resident of Khogyani, Nangarhar province, who was picked up from Bagram near Kabul with a Ford Datsun vehicle stolen from an Afghan general and bearing the number LTB 1394.

In his interrogation, Ahmad Shah revealed that he was raised by one Sher Agha, a police officer in Jalalabad, who was linked to ISI. On Agha's instructions, Shah had taken up the job of a contract driver at the Afghan National Army Academy in March 2006. He had stolen the Ford Datsun from one General Sharif Khan.

According to the interrogation, he was to meet Shinwari and help load the car with explosives for an attack on 'India House'. Sources said Afghan security forces subsequently arrested Sher Agha too in Jalalabad and incriminating documents revealing links with Lashkar-e-Toiba cadres were also recovered from him.

In fact, this along with several other inputs, later established Lashkar's presence in Afghanistan and served as one of the reasons for US to blacklist Lashkar founder Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed.

Earlier, in July 2004, a terror alert of a possible rocket attack on Indian consulate in Jalalabad led to the arrest of one Hafizullah of Kunar province in August first week, 2004, while he was on his way to Pakistan. Photographs of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad were recovered from him.

His interrogation by Afghan security officials revealed that he had surveyed the India consulate - to launch rocket attacks - with four other accomplices, Qazi Nurullah, Yar Padshah, Commander Shamali of Kanda Gul in Kunar and Abdul Hadi, ex-Taliban governor of Kunar province. Hafizullah and Padshah had contacted one Ibrahim who had agreed to carry out the attack with two other men.

Hafizullah was on his way to Pakistan to have the plan cleared by one Mullah Ghulamallah when he was arrested.

Two other alerts that did not lead to any arrests, but allowed stepping up security and in a way possibly deterring the planned attacks were:

o November 2007: RAW, jointly with Afghan security agencies, issued an alert following reliable inputs that one Barat Khan, trained at Chaman Madarsa in Quetta, was tasked to carry out a suicide car attack near the main gate of Indian consulate in Kandahar. He was to use a 1996 model Toyota Corolla.

o September 2004: A warning was issued that a car bomb attack was likely at Indian consulate, Jalalabad, using two cars with Nangarhar license plate numbers 5527 and 4423 or 4432.

The stepped-up security, sources said, may have forced these terrorists to postpone or cancel their plans. But on July 7, the bombers with their car managed to reach close to the Indian embassy in Shahr-e-Nau, Kabul and rammed into an embassy vehicle, blowing up just outside the entrance killing 41 persons.

Here again, there was an alert and because of which security was very tight, perhaps the reason why the car could not enter the embassy premises.

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