View Full Version : Taliban Suicide Bombing Patterns

01-21-2006, 07:45 AM
20 Jan. Associated Press - Afghan Bombings May Be Shift in Tactics (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/20/AR2006012000919.html).

... The U.S. military calls it a sign of desperation, but it's spooking other NATO countries as they prepare to deploy thousands of troops to the volatile south of the country to take over from American forces. Political opposition in The Netherlands is so strong it has led to a parliamentary debate on whether to approve the planned deployment and threatened to topple the government...

Suicide bombings used to be rare in Afghanistan. There were none in 2002, two in 2003, four in 2004 and four from January 2005 until late September, when the recent spate of 20 started, according to information provided by the U.S. military, NATO peacekeepers and Afghan officials...

U.S. military spokesman Col. James Yonts said the recent attacks appear timed to intimidate the international community ahead of two key events: an aid donors' conference in London later this month and the switch by midyear from U.S. forces to NATO troops in the south...

03-01-2007, 07:17 PM
The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor:

Cheney Attack Reveals Taliban Suicide Bombing Patterns (http://www.jamestown.org/news_details.php?news_id=222)

...Iraqi suicide bombers from such jihadi groups as Ansar al-Sunnah and al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia frequently seek to inflict high casualty rates by attacking soft targets, such as crowded markets. Their objective is to cause as much bloodshed as possible, incite sectarian violence and destroy U.S. efforts to construct civil society in Iraq. Afghan suicide bombers, on the other hand, appear to have different objectives and have focused almost exclusively on hard targets (government, police, military). In 2007, for example, the Taliban have attacked foreign or Afghan military/police targets in 16 of their 22 bombings (in three cases the target was undetermined).

This in-depth analysis of 158 Afghan suicide bombings since 2001 shows that this is no anomaly and demonstrates an important point: in only eight of the 158 suicide attacks from 2001-2007 did civilians appear to be the direct target of Afghan bombers. Further scrutiny of these eight civilian attacks reveals an important fact. In two of these instances, the Taliban apologized for inflicting civilian casualties and in one case a Taliban spokesmen actually denied involvement. In four other cases the suicide bombers seem to have been targeting passing military convoys or governmental representatives in crowds; therefore, the high civilian casualties appear to have been unintended "collateral damage." In only two instances were civilians clearly the target of Afghan suicide bombers.

These findings tell us volumes about the Taliban's overall strategy in employing suicide bombing as a tactic. Far from imitating Iraqi insurgent tactics, the Taliban are trying to avoid losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by needlessly killing civilians....

03-01-2007, 09:50 PM
Interesting article. Shows how the war in Afghanistan differs greatly from Iraq in that the Afghan struggle has not yet turned into a sectarian struggle as it largely has become in Iraq. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the Taliban are still largely fighting on their own ethnic homeground in the south and east, among fellow Sunni Pashtuns --- unlike Iraq where suicide bombing is principally aimed at intimidating civilians and leadership of another sect. Suicide bombings of Sunnis by Sunnis in Iraq are rare.

Smitten Eagle
03-01-2007, 11:16 PM
One thing that has interested me in the past is the rise in suicide bombing among the Taliban. I seem to recall that in Rashid's book ("Taliban"), that, at the time of the book's publication, the Taliban were opposed to suicide bombing on religious grounds. Now apparently the tactic is up for grabs.

On a related note, there have been other shifts in Taliban moral/religious sensibilities: Years ago, they were opposed to electronic media in all its forms due to prohibitions on using images of humans. Now they are quite amenable to use of electronic media for propaganda purposes.

03-02-2007, 12:11 AM
Not the first of their many tactical shifts --- witness their many opinions on the legality of opium, for instance.

Smitten Eagle
03-02-2007, 01:12 PM
Indeed, their odyssey of thought on Opium has shifted even more, given their history before the US even became involved in that wretched country.

03-02-2007, 03:49 PM
As-Sahab Video of Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan
By Evan Kohlmann

The beginning is typical rubish (my opinion) and talk of US, but gets much deaper once the idiots no longer talk :D
The video goes into great detail, right down to making the large IED.

Al-Qaida's central media wing, known as the As-Sahab Media Foundation, has released a new video depicting a recent suicide car bombing attack in Afghanistan. The video includes a recorded "martyrdom" will by the bomber, footage of the creation of the bomb, and the execution of the actual attack itself. The video also features an excerpt from an interview with Taliban supreme military commander Mullah Dadullah, in which he endorses suicide bomb operations as a key weapon in confronting heavily-armed "superpowers."


03-02-2007, 04:47 PM
A timely comparison of LTTE and Taliban terrorism is now available here:
http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/03/compare_contrast_taliban_and_t.php (http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/03/compare_contrast_taliban_and_t.php) (which in turn references the not time specific link ttp://www.profilesinterror.com/updates/ (http://www.profilesinterror.com/updates/) )

This week saw two terror attacks that apparently came close to high-level officials: the Taliban suicide bombing at Bagram Air Force Base while Vice President Cheney was staying there, and the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) mortar attack on an aircraft (http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/4713) carrying U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake, along with the Italian and German Ambassadors. In Afghanistan, the Taliban insist that they were targeting Cheney, while U.S. officials claim that the Taliban do not have the capability. In contrast, the LTTE insists that it was not targeting the international diplomats, but the Sri Lankan government claims that they were. It is unlikely that either attack expressly targeted the officials. But the difference in the claims about the attack illustrates the differences between the two conflicts and between pre-9/11 and post-9/11 terror.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban apparently claimed that Cheney was the target of the attack on Bagram. However, the Taliban had little notice of Cheney’s movements and suicide bombings take some time to prepare. Besides the logistics the bomber has to be completely prepared psychologically – at the same time, an indoctrinated bomber cannot be kept waiting, otherwise the bomber may have second thoughts. It is conceivable that the Taliban had a suicide bombing in the works and shifted it to Bagram when they learned that Cheney was there. But changing plans quickly increases the likelihood of being intercepted if the new plan takes the bombers to an area that has not been carefully reconnoitered. Also, the bomber made no effort (and really had no chance) of penetrating deeply into Bagram.

Merv Benson
03-02-2007, 05:22 PM
The Taliban are religious bigots who imposed and would impose again an extreme form of Islam. While the resistance to their efforts may not have the same dynamic as the Sunni Shia divide in Iraq, it is hard to get away from the religious aspects of their efforts. They are murdering barbers and attacking people who shave based on some weird reading of the Koran. They are destroying schools that teach women, because of some weird religious belief. The government forces resisting them have a different take on what Islam requires, so I think it is fair to say it is a sectarian civil war.

03-02-2007, 06:16 PM
There is one story that showing that in better detail…

Some time before September 2001, Ayman al-Zawahiri approached to Mullah Omar asking him to let Afghani women get trained in military skills (handling the weapons and basic training, not suicide attacks), but Taliban leader blow him off. Al-Zawahiri tried 3, 4 times to get to Omar to talk to him, but at no veil. Finally, Mullah Omar got very upset hearing for such request. Al-Zawahiri was told it is better to back off of training the women. On the end, al-Zawahiri did it anyways. He formed camp to train women, in big secrecy and far away of eyes of Taliban.

(from book: The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader by Peter Bergen)

03-03-2007, 04:50 AM
Thats interesting; i was in southern Afghanistan from July 05' to July 06', and although i didn't see it personally, i was on a mission where we were ambushed and some of the ANA who were with us reported seeing women firing at them during the fight. Here's an article that outlines the incident, albiet from the point of few of only some of those on the ground.

...“There were little villages all along 611, every time we hit one it would start up again, every little village opened up on us.”
The Afghan soldiers said even women were firing at the column. They’d never heard of that before. The insurgents fired from buildings constructed from thick mud-brick walls, impervious to small arms...

05-28-2007, 07:27 PM
Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 24 May 07:

A Report from the Field: Gauging the Impact of Taliban Suicide Bombing (http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373426)

The following study is based on field research carried out in the summers of 2003, 2005 and the spring of 2007 in 15 Afghan provinces including: Paktia, Nangarhar (Jalalabad), Panjshir, Balkh (Mazar-i-Sharif), Takhar, Bamiyan, Kabul and Herat. Specific assistance was granted by the United Nations, the U.S. military, Hekmat Karzai’s Center for Afghan Peace Studies as well as numerous NGO members and average Afghans who chose to remain anonymous....

06-18-2007, 07:20 AM
18 June Washington Post - Kabul Blast Shows Taliban Capability (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/17/AR2007061700109.html) by Griff Witte and Javed Hamdard.

Since winter, the Taliban had been promising a spring offensive. It didn't come. Instead, NATO and U.S. forces have pounded the group's positions and killed its senior leadership.

But with summer well underway in Afghanistan, the radical Islamic movement showed on Sunday that it is still capable of mounting one of the most devastating insurgent strikes the country has seen.

In the single deadliest suicide attack since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, a bomber hopped on a packed bus in downtown Kabul and triggered his explosives, killing 24 to 35 people and wounding dozens more. A purported commander for the Taliban asserted responsibility for the attack...

06-19-2007, 05:15 PM

"MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan - Explosions at a suspected militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border on Tuesday caused casualties, the army said.

Three missiles fired from Afghanistan destroyed a training facility in Pakistan, killing 17 militants and wounding 10 others, according to an intelligence official in North Waziristan. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media."

06-23-2007, 01:24 AM
Children as young as six are being used by the Taliban in increasingly desperate suicide missions, coalition forces in Afghanistan claimed yesterday.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to which Britain contributes 5,000 troops in southern Afghanistan, revealed that soldiers defused an explosive vest which had been placed on a six-year-old who had been told to attack Afghan army forces in the east of the country.

The boy was spotted after appearing confused at a checkpoint. The vest was defused and no one was hurt.


Merv Benson
06-23-2007, 01:51 AM
This post (http://prairiepundit.blogspot.com/2007/06/taliban-ambush-school-girls.html) has the story of the attack that killed two, a 10 year old and a 13 year old girl. Three others were wounded.

We probably have not yet mined the depths of depravity of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Both this story and the one on the six year old human bomb attack came the same week the Taliban used children as human shields while provoking a bombing attack.

07-01-2007, 03:36 AM
In Kabul, the burial of a suicide bomber occurs at a secret time in a secret place, the forgettable end to what most here consider an unforgivable act.

30 Jun 07 New York Times - World - Asia Pacific (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/world/asia/01afghan.html?ex=1183867200&en=44f053ebcf97b2db&ei=5065&partner=MYWAY)

07-20-2007, 01:44 PM
The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 19 Jul 07:

The Taliban Fedayeen: The World's Worst Suicide Bombers? (http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373562)

Suicide bombing statistics from Afghanistan alarmingly demonstrate that, if the current trend continues, 2007 will surpass last year in the number of overall attacks. While there were 47 bombings by mid-June 2006, there have been approximately 57 during the same period this year. Compounding fears of worse carnage to come, Afghanistan's most lethal single suicide bombing attack to date recently took the lives of 35 Afghan police trainers near Kabul. When considering the expanding use of IEDs and the discovery of the first Iraqi-style Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP) in Afghanistan in May (i.e. a more deadly form of IED that has killed high numbers of soldiers in Iraq), it is understandable that critics of the war in Afghanistan discuss it in alarmist tones. Approximately 80% of U.S. casualties in Iraq come from IEDs, and members of the U.S. and Afghan military who were interviewed for this study believed that the absence of mass casualty suicide bombings and EFPs were the two factors that made Afghanistan less dangerous than Iraq. A deeper investigation of the wave of suicide bombings that have swept the country in 2006 and 2007 paints a less bleak picture....

Rex Brynen
09-09-2007, 01:20 AM
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001-2007), 9 September 2007.

This study presents the main findings of UNAMA’s comprehensive inquiry into the phenomenon of suicide attacks in Afghanistan. This study places suicide attacks in Afghanistan in the context of their occurrence in other countries and eras, identifying ways in which suicide attacks in Afghanistan differ from attacks elsewhere. It details available information about the backgrounds of the attackers and the sources of support they enjoy, both in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan. This report describes the human cost borne by civilian victims and identifies several policy implications as well as mitigating strategies.

Full report here (http://www.unama-afg.org/docs/_UN-Docs/UNAMA%20-%20SUICIDE%20ATTACKS%20STUDY%20-%20SEPT%209th%202007.pdf).

09-10-2007, 08:43 PM
Check the article on The Croissant, a French site specialising in North Africa, which has this short story:


Unable to comment on accuracy.

01-24-2008, 08:18 PM
Suicide Bomber Falls Down Stairs and Blows Himself Up (http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,23101330-5007061,00.html)
A would-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.

It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Yesterday's blast was in a busy market area of the eastern town of Khost, a deputy provincial police chief said.....

Rex Brynen
01-24-2008, 08:40 PM
Suicide Bomber Falls Down Stairs and Blows Himself Up (http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,23101330-5007061,00.html)

I guess all that SOF "tie their shoe laces together when they're not looking" training is paying off...

01-24-2008, 08:42 PM
Suicide Bomber Falls Down Stairs and Blows Himself Up (http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,23101330-5007061,00.html)
Damn, you beat me to it! See that on Fark? :D

There's some sound history and reasoning behind having a pin in a grenade, a fuse on your artillery round, and a safety on your IED :D
IED = the zip gun of the ordnance world*. :D
* YMMV. Front towards Enemy. Have all contraptions inspected by a competent Jihadi before use.

01-24-2008, 08:45 PM
Damn, you beat me to it! See that on Fark? :D

There's some sound history and reasoning behind having a pin in a grenade, a fuse on your artillery round, and a safety on your IED :D

Tom Odom
02-01-2008, 08:47 PM
I guess all that SOF "tie their shoe laces together when they're not looking" training is paying off...

I had visions of a "Life Alert" commercial...

"I have fallen downstairs and pieces of me are stuck on the ceiling..":D

02-08-2008, 01:23 PM
Further operator error:

Three NATO soldiers were wounded in one of the incidents and, in another, three civilians were hurt when a suicide vest detonated as it was being strapped to a would-be attacker in the southwestern province of Nimroz, the provincial governor said.

The man trying to put on the vest and someone helping him were killed in the explosion, which took place in a small grocery store, Nimroz governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad said.

"The shop collapsed and three civilians outside were wounded, two critically," he said. The owner of the store may have been working with Taliban insurgents, he added.