Kabul hotel attack: a warning for America?

June 29, 2011

News broke yesterday of a horrific attack by jihadi terrorists on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul:

Kamel Khan, 32, a businessman, was chatting with two friends on the poolside terrace of the hilltop Intercontinental Hotel Tuesday night when he heard a burst of gunfire and looked up. A man carrying a machine gun, with an ammunition belt across his chest and a knapsack on his back, was standing a few feet away.

“He stared at all of the guests like he wanted to kill us, and he had enough bullets to do it, but for some reason he just turned and kept going,” Khan said. After a moment of shock, Khan and dozens of other guests made a dash for the garden wall and fled downhill, while heavy shooting erupted behind them.

At about the same time, Maulvi Mohammed Orsaji, head of the Takhar Provincial Council, was dining with a judge in the hotel’s formal dining room when several other gunmen entered and started shooting. Both officials were visiting Kabul for a governor’s conference that was scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“I got down and hid behind a pillar, and I stayed there for the next five hours,” the shaken, elderly cleric recounted Wednesday morning. “There was shooting and explosions. By the time it was over, both my guard and my friend the judge were dead.”

“I was a fighter in the [anti-Soviet] jihad when I was young,” Orsaji continued. “But I never saw such a wild kind of attack in my life.”

The siege of the Intercontinental by a squad of Taliban suicide bombers and heavily armed gunmen was one of the most sophisticated and audacious attacks on the capital in years. It took the lives of at least nine civilians, including hotel staff and visitors, and wounded a dozen more, ending only when surviving attackers were shot dead by NATO helicopter gunships during a pre-dawn last stand on the hotel roof.

The Long War Journal identified the probable attackers:

Today’s suicide attack was likely carried out by the Kabul Attack Network, which is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.

The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network.

Note: Our friend and ally Pakistan may well be connected to these goons. Gee, thanks guys! Have another $8 billion!

Analysis of the attack focused on its timing, coming soon after Obama announced a bug-out hard timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan and while a meeting was taking place at the hotel to discuss the handover of security responsibilities for Kabul. Opinion is that two messages were being sent: one to Obama (“We’re still here and unbeaten!”) and one to non-Taliban Afghans (“When the Americans leave, we’ll be back in power. You are secure nowhere, even in your capital!”)

But there’s another message here, too, not deliberately aimed at us by the Brave Knights of Allah swine who perpetrated this attack, but there nonetheless: this kind of attack can all too easily happen here, too.

While TLWJ pointed out that this was part of a series of attacks against hotels in Kabul, the antecedent we should be aware of is the terrorist raid on Mumbai, India, in late November, 2008. Back then, a suicide squad of jihadis attacked downtown Mumbai, before seizing a hotel and going room to room, looking for foreigners to kill. A separate group hunted Jews, capturing a Chabad House and torturing and killing a rabbi and his pregnant wife.

We’ve known for a while that bin Laden was interested in launching Mumbai-style attacks in the West, and that al Qaeda and the Taliban, contrary to common wisdom, are very closely intertwined — almost inseparable. They’ve worked together on attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pakistani jihad-terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which launched the Mumbai assault, has been described as “al Qaeda junior” and trained the Times Square bomber.

They have the desire, they have the means, and they’ve been practicing. Mumbai and Kabul may be on the other side of the planet, but what’s to say a dedicated band of jihadis who love death as we love life couldn’t do the same thing in New York City, or Seattle, or Los Angeles, or… ?

That then is the other message of yesterday’s attack in Kabul: that what happened there could just as easily happen here. And that is why we must be aggressive in hunting these men —and killing them— rather than playing defense, which only guarantees that more innocents will be killed in these maniacs’ quest for Paradise.

RELATED: Michael Yon provides photos from the fighting at the hotel: Cheering for Mass Murder.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)