• Colonel (Ret.) Natan Paz

Fugitives – The Taliban’s Version


An unprecedented terror attack of the Islamic State Organization against a prison in Jalalabad, located in the Nangrahar Province, Afghanistan, resulted in 29 fatalities and dozens of wounded. Thanks to the fatal attack, over 1,000 prisoners succeeded in escaping from that prison. The attack which lasted for over 20 hours and included a timed attack of 8 terrorists at least, began by blowing up a car bomb at the entrance to the prison. Isis – the never-ending story.


The obituary that came a little too soon


Afghanistan, the land of the Taliban, has already experienced its fair share of heavy fighting and bloody assaults on government centers. The country, known by the Taliban’s reign of terror, has found itself in the past two decades in the midst of a guerilla war between the forces of the west which support a democratic regime and the attempts of the Taliban, El-Qaeda, and Isis to regain control and impose a Muslim Shariah law in the country.


The mighty explosion of last Sunday shook the large prison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. More than 1,790 prisoners and staff members found themselves in a horrific scenario of a deadly and carefully timed attack by Isis. The prison contained mostly Taliban people and Isis warriors. So far, most of the prisoners who escaped were captured, but the hunt for about 300 prisoners who managed to escape continues. It is believed that this attack was designed to bring about the release of the Islamic State’s warriors and leaders who have been imprisoned there for quite some time.


The county’s prison spokesperson reported more than 1,020 inmates who had escaped and apprehended and around 430 prisoners that were rescued by the prison authorities during the attack. He also reported 50 prisoners who suffered various degrees of injury. Escape attempts and attacks on prisons in Afghanistan are nothing new. Isis is trying for some time now to make a comeback to the center of the arena and to awareness in Afghanistan and Iraq, and this is happening after commentators and “experts” had already eulogized it. The truth is that the organization is very much alive, present, and kicking in this arena too, as well as in the Sinai, and Syria regions, which makes announcing their demise a little premature.


Spectacle


The current terrorist attack is looking like one of the most organized and perfectly timed attacks so far. The calculated timing of at least eight terrorists, a car bomb blast with a powerful charge, and a killing spree of 20 hours is not something to be taken lightly. The event symbolizes more than anything else, the daring and upgrading of Isis’s attacks compared to past events. The organization is learning, researching, and is creating valuable tactical operational intelligence which enables it to generate surprise and raise fear in the heart of the Afghan regime.


In this manner, the organization is trying to return to center stage and consciousness after a long period of defeat in the battlefield opposite the coalition and the local government. In the past two years Isis had managed to create underground foot soldiers who are being assimilated into the population and in fact, maintain active terror cells in Kabul and Jalalabad thus challenging the central regime and the coalition. This attack came in perfect timing with an additional attack on Egyptian forces in the Sinai by the Sinai Isis forces.


All of this was intended to create a spectacle of force together with a message to the west and the local authorities that Isis is still alive and well. Isis is renewing the ranks of its leaders and we must not degrade the message that they are sending throughout the world both to the forces of the west as well as to their potential recruits around the world.


Undermining peace efforts with the Taliban


Isis’s attack on the prison comes at a point in time when the authorities and the coalition forces lead by the United States are attempting to reach agreements with the Taliban. As part of the three-day truce set between the fighting forces, an effort was made to reach an understanding that will bring about an end to the persistent fighting in the country and perhaps a better future. Hope was lost with the conviction of the terror attack on Sunday.

In light of the severity of the event, the Taliban’s spokespersons rushed to deny any connection to the attack and announced that they are not involved in the planning or the execution of the attack as it was done by Isis. Before the attack, the intelligence department of the state announced the elimination of one of Isis’s senior leaders in the country, Asad Ullah Orakzai. The man was killed near Jalalabad and is credited for planning and executing dozens of terrorist acts and harming members of the security forces in the country.


The Nangrahar Province was considered to be one of the strongholds under the control of Isis over the past few years. In the past couple of years, the county’s government declared the defeat of Isis and that they have lost control of Nangrahar Province. Reality proves otherwise. Isis managed to create a shadow rule and sleeper-cells which were assimilated into the population and under the authority of government leaders. All that was needed was the order to execute, and sure enough, it would be executed. The province which has experienced bloody events prior to this attack fails to produce the severing of the organization’s capabilities.


This was the case in the severe attack the organization managed to execute on the 12th of May this year, in which 32 people lost their lives in the attack of one suicide bomber at the funeral of one of the senior officers in the county’s police force. The true tragedy of the current attack is that prior to the attack a press conference was held in which festive photos of the new prison staff headed by the newly appointed prison warden were uploaded. The entire event was also shared on social networks.


The Islamic State in the facilities of the Israel Prison Authority


The incident in Afghanistan, therefore, demonstrates the capabilities of the murderous terror organization. The civil war in Syria and the fighting by the Egyptian forces headed by President Al-Sisi may have weakened the organization but it is far from vanished. It is still too early to determine who sent the terrorists who attempted to place the explosive device on the Syrian border and were eliminated, but it is possible that all the assessments according to which the Hezbollah is responsible are too immature and perhaps Isis is involved as well. Time will tell.


What’s certain is that the leaders of the organization are keeping an eye on the State of Israel and will never cease their attempts to carry out terrorist attacks within our borders as well. Isis terrorists are held in Israeli prisons too, and it is only appropriate for these referenced scenarios of scheduled attacks on prisons to be studied by us as well, and not to underestimate the issue by arguing that it is happening far away and unlikely to happen here.


The most significant effort to have, both in the intelligence and inside prisons, pertains to the intentions of escaping and harming prison security as well as collecting strategic intelligence about the organization’s intentions in every location it may be found.

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