- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2012

A top Afghan official said Thursday that he has believed for years that most insider attacks on foreign troops have resulted from the Taliban’s infiltration of Afghanistan’s security forces — an assessment that contradicts Pentagon conclusions.

The insider attacks — in which Afghan soldiers and police turn their weapons on their international coalition trainers — have killed more than 50 foreign troops this year, and frayed trust between NATO and Afghan forces.

The Pentagon for months has attributed the majority of such attacks to personal grievances and cultural clashes between Afghan and coalition forces.

“I think it’s absolutely a majority of it is a terrorist infiltration in the ranks,” Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Jawed Ludin said Thursday at a press briefing at the Afghan Embassy in Washington. “We’ve always believed this.”

Yet as recently as Aug. 23, Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, told reporters that only 25 percent of insider attacks have been carried out by Taliban infiltrators.

Mr. Ludin called claims that the killings have been due to personal grievances “unfounded,” and pointed out that coalition and Afghan troops have been working together for a decade.

“Some people who think this is essentially a cultural thing vastly overstate and actually really ignore the fact that we’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and this really has come in the last six months,” he said.

Mr. Ludin said that Taliban infiltrators among Afghanistan’s security forces had been overlooked in the rush to meet NATO recruiting targets in the last few years, as the international coalition moves to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014.

“This is really in the last … two to three years when we had to go out and do a very large scale recruitment because we had to really meet the targets, the recruitment targets set for us by the transition process,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry official said.

“I suppose what happened in that process is that we perhaps overlooked some of the crucial screening requirements, and as a result, the enemy used that as an opportunity to infiltrate,” Mr. Ludin added. “Infiltration has not been a new phenomenon.”