The National Directorate of Security (NDS), the intelligence agency in Afghanistan, accused Pakistan, considered a willing terrorist safe haven, and the Haqqani Network, a terrorist group affiliated with allies al-Qaeda and the Taliban, of being behind the recent carnage in Kabul.
“These terrorists once again proved they don’t represent any religion and they only carry out such coward attacks to please their Pakistani masters which is against all Islamic and human rights principals [sic],” states a statement from NDS, according to Foreign Policy (FP).
Moreover, the NDS has admitted that it knew of the attack beforehand.
“We knew about a possible attack targeting the Wazir Akbar Khan area as far back as May 21,” an NDS official told FP on condition of anonymity, later admitting, “But we weren’t expecting a truck bomb — we were looking for a Corolla or a similar car carrying explosives. We failed to identify the threat.”
“Such a truck would also require a clearance document to be able to enter that area,” noted the official. “We are currently investigating if the insurgents used a fake clearance card, or if they managed to get access to an original from one of the embassies.”
On Wednesday, the explosive-laden septic truck killed about 90 people and injured more than 400 others, including 11 Americans, marking one of the worst attacks in Afghanistan since the U.S. invaded in the country in 2001.
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.
Pakistan and the Taliban, apparently speaking on behalf of the Haqqani Network, have denied the NDS allegations, which have ruled out the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) as the culprit.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid reportedly said the NDS claim that the Haqqani Network is responsible for the Kabul blast is an attempt to “hide failure, incompetency, and conspiracies of their foreign masters.”
The Taliban has also denied any involvement in the assault.
Soon after the suspected jihadist detonated the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, several Afghans took to the streets to protest the failure of the government to keep people safe in Afghanistan.
Some Afghans also demanded that President Ashraf Ghani’s administration hangs Haqqani network leader Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Siraj Haqqani, chief of the jihadist group.
Islamabad dismissed the NDS claims that Pakistan is responsible for the attack as “baseless allegations.”
“The accusatory approach is unhelpful towards efforts for peace. It is disappointing that some elements, who have no interest in peace in Afghanistan and want to damage Afghan-Pakistan relations, have been maligning Pakistan for their own agenda,” declared Nafees Zakaria, a spokesman for the Islamabad-based foreign office.
However, referring to the NDS allegations, FP notes that Pakistan’s ISI agency has been affiliated with the terrorism in the past.
Neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan continually blame one another for terrorist attacks within their respective borders.
Although ISIS has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack, pro-ISIS platforms on social media had celebrated the attack.
NDS insists ISIS had nothing to do with the massacre.
“As for Daesh [ISIS], we are confident it wasn’t their doing. They tend to wrongly take credit for any attack against the Afghan state,” noted the anonymous NDS official.