At 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, the Afghan capital of Kabul shook as a massive explosion rippled across the city. A septic tanker loaded with explosives had been triggered at a major traffic junction in Wazir Akbar Khan, the diplomatic area, in the middle of rush hour. At least 85 people were killed and more than 650 injured, making the attack the worst in Afghanistan since 2001, when the Taliban regime was toppled with the help of the United States.
The numbers are still rising. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country’s intelligence agency, took responsibility for failing to prevent the assault, with one official admitting to Foreign Policy that the NDS had prior intelligence that it would occur. But even as nobody has yet claimed credit for the bombing, the NDS has pinpointed a culprit.
Just hours after the explosion, the NDS pointed to the Haqqani Network, an insurgent group in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands that shares close ties with the Taliban, as the perpetrators. But Afghan intelligence lay ultimate blame with their Pakistani counterpart, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which it claimed had planned the blast.
It’s an extraordinary accusation, but a plausible one. ISI has been accused of involvement in other terror attacks, including the assault on Mumbai, India, in 2008 carried out by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. ISI was also complicit in the establishment of the Taliban, supporting and funding its founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, in the 1990s.
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