Threat from within: U.S. military braced for surge in Taliban ‘insider’ attacks

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The infiltration operations will be targeted on gaining access “inside the enemy’s centers.”

Insider attacks are carried out by Afghan security and military personnel who are influenced by the Taliban, or who are double agents dispatched or converted while in the Afghan security forces. The terrorists pose as members of the Afghan National Security Forces or Afghan police and then carry out shootings against coalition forces or Afghans working for the central government.

The goal of the spring offensive is to gain “liberation of the remaining regions of the country” from domination by “infidels” and the establishment of a government based on Islamist Sharia law, the statement said.

Last year’s statement on the spring offensive did not mention insider attacks or collective martyrdom operations. It said the group would seek to expand Taliban influence rather than reaching a concluding victory.

“The threat of insider attacks is very real and creates deep distrust at time when training the Afghan forces is critical to the way ahead,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“These attacks add an extra dimension to the security mission that existed previously, but maintaining the right security procedures and precautions are absolutely critical,” Hunter said. “At this stage of the Afghan mission, it’s important that we stay on offense.”

Hunter stated that the growth of insider attacks is “alarming” in a letter last August to Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) calling for hearings on the threat.

Then-U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. John R. Allen said the use of the terrorist tactic had made him “mad as hell” in September.

“We’re going to get after this,” Allen told CBS “60 Minutes.” “It reverberates everywhere across the United States. We’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”

A conference was held in January on the insider threat at Grafenwoehr, Germany where the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Insider Threat Mitigation Working Group met.

Australian Brig. Adam Findlay, chief of the Working Group, told reporters that the Taliban’s use of insider killings has two objectives: “Drive a wedge amongst the coalition countries for political pressure back home, and to try to drive a wedge between us and the Afghan forces.”

U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Walsh, deputy commander of the Insider Threat Mitigation Working Group said the insider attack “is emerging as a signature weapon of this conflict.”

According to Speaks, the Pentagon spokesman, some of the insider attacks were linked to personal grievances by Afghans or were the result of cultural “misunderstandings.”

“The insurgency, with its continuing decline and inability to dissuade the Afghan population from the course of a secure and peaceful Afghanistan, is seeking to exploit the effects of these attacks, and those contributing factors that cause others to commit these attacks, to claim success falsely,” he said.

Speaks said more Afghans were killed in insider attacks than U.S. and allied forces.

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