USA has killed Aslam Farooqui, ISIS-K Chief, alleged to be the mastermind of Kabul Airport terrorist attack, through a drone attack on his suspected hideout in Nangarhar, on the intervening night of 27/28 August 2021. Was it a drone strike, or a missile attack? Question is where was the drone flown from? Does the USA still have bases in Afghanistan?
Was it taken from the Taliban on loan? But why would the Taliban do it, who had released him from Jail, just a few days back? However the possibility cannot be ruled out. If it is accepted, then it exposes the secret deal between the USA and Taliban, despite hostile posturing towards each other.
Well! It could be as much from a base in Pakistan. In the past, the USA had its bases in Pakistan. The American military has good relations with the Pakistan military. It can do so. In that case, what happens to Imran Khan boasting of "Absolutely Not"? If the Pakistan military had allowed it, there would be serious repercussions. It can be ruled out though not improbable.
If the drone was flown from its aircraft carrier in the Persian gulf or even from a military base in Diego Garcia — could the drone cover around 2,000 kms or more? This is a very valid question. One would rule out the use of drones because it is out of the range of US Reaper drones.
Firstly, it had to fly over Pakistan airspace. Did Pakistan allow it? Maybe or maybe not. Secondly, the maximum range of the well known US drone, Reaper, is around 1,850 Kms. So, how could it be flown from the Persian Gulf and strike at Nangarhar, which is outside its range?
How was the target designated or was it pre-fed coordinates of the hideout? It immediately implies that the USA had known about this hideout. If so, why didn't the USA pre-empt the Kabul airport terror attack to save the lives of around 170 people including 13 US Marines. It is sad.
Is it a missile attack? The deep pit created at the point of strike, betrays the drone attack theory. The payload of a Reaper drone might not have a capability to create such a big hole. It had to be a missile attack, as did the state of ground zero of strike. What more, a missile attack does not need Pakistan permission to fly over its territory.
The USA had been harping about the possibility of an ISIS attack before it happened on 26 August 2021. what is the use of such an intel, if it is not acted upon? Was the USA worried about the Taliban blaming it for the breach of the deal, which had forbidden the Taliban from attacking US forces till 31 August?
What was the purpose of the CIA director meeting Mulla Abdul Gani Brader? Did he tell Brader of the likely ISIS-K threat? Or was it the other way around? Whatever, if the whereabouts of ISIS head were known, he could have been eliminated much earlier to stall the impending terror attack. The only inference is that the so-called superpower was hesitant of breaching the deal, even at the cost of its soldiers' lives. Aren’t these signs of a declining power?
Care-taker president, earlier VP of Afghanistan, Mr. Amarulla Saleh of Afghanistan, now in Panjshir valley, has stated that ISIS-K and Taliban have definite links. There is quite a possibility. He goes on to expose Pakistan-Taliban-ISIS links too.
Reports appear that the Taliban might have known about this attack too. Taliban guards are reported to have told people at the airport to go away from the place, as an attack was imminent.
Was the Taliban complicit in this terrorist strike? If the Taliban knew it, how could the Pakistan military be unaware of this? Why had Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa met Mulla Abdul Gani Bradar st Dohs on 10 August 2021. The other day, Pakistan army DG ISPR, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhiar, had stated that it would help the Taliban if it wanted its help, as it had done in the past too? What does it indicate?
Another theory doing rounds suggests that the USA and Taliban are in league with each other? According to this, the Kabul terrorist attack was with the connivance of Pakistan to teach a lesson to Taliban for hobnobbing with the USA. The outward posturing of the USA and Taliban might be a farce. And so is Pakistan ‘annoyance with the Taliban.
Was ISIS-K boss, Aslam Farouqi not let out of jail by Taliban from Bagran jail, just a few days back? He was a Pakistani. Even the suicide bomber who blew himself ip was a Pakistani. There are games within games in Afghanistan. Human lives seem to be pawns on the chessboard of Afghanistan.
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')