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Islamic State branch claims attack on Afghan military academy

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an assault near the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul. Amaq News Agency, one of the so-called caliphate's propaganda arms, has released several short statements since the attack on the "military academy" began earlier today. At least 11 Afghan service members were killed, according to initial casualty reports.

It appears that the raid was yet another inghimasi operation involving several jihadists. Inghimasis are generally well-trained guerrilla fighters who are prepared to die in battle. They are different from traditional suicide bombers in that they don't detonate their explosive belts or vests at the outset of the fight, but instead first battle their enemies with light arms or other weapons. They "immerse" themselves in the battle before killing themselves.

Dawlat Waziri, the spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense, told the press that at least five jihadists carried out the attack. Citing Waziri, the Associated Press reported that two fighters blew themselves up, two others were killed during the firefight, and the fifth was detained. The tactics described by Waziri are generally consistent with an inghimasi operation.

Amaq claims that the jihadists "also targeted an American base" affiliated with the Marshal Fahim National Defense University.

The same military academy was struck by a Taliban suicide bomber in Oct. 2017. Fifteen Afghan recruits were reportedly killed when a Taliban "martyr" blew himself up near the facility. The Taliban included the operation in its year-end round-up for 2017, boasting that "a self-sacrificial attack was carried out on a vehicle carrying workers of Marshal Fahim military academy near Qambar square in the heart of Kabul." The bombing inflicted "heavy losses and casualties on the stooge military officials," the Taliban's Voice of Jihad website claimed.

The Islamic State's Khorasan "province" (also known as Wilayah Khorasan, and ISIS-K) has conducted similar operations in Kabul in the past. In Mar. 2017, for instance, another team of five fighters broke into the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital, killing and wounding dozens of victims.

The Afghan capital has been hit hard in the past eight days, as jihadists have struck three times. Two of the attacks were conducted by the Taliban and the third, earlier today, was claimed by the Islamic State.

On Jan. 20 and 21, a Taliban assault squad raided the Intercontinental Hotel. Afghan security forces finally ended the siege after more than 12 hours. At least 22 people, including several Americans, were killed and others wounded. It was the second time the hotel had been targeted in such a manner, as another jihadist team invaded the hotel in 2011.

On Jan. 27, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated his vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) – an ambulance packed with explosives – at the second gate of the old ministry of interior building in Kabul. The death toll from the bombing has climbed to more than 100 victims.

And now the Islamic State claims that its representatives were responsible for the killings in Kabul earlier today.

The Islamic State's Khorasan also claimed the Jan. 24 suicide assault on a Save the Children charity office in Jalalabad, Nangarhar.

Amaq News has reported on a series of smaller attacks throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent days. For example, Amaq says that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's loyalists: killed an "Afghan police commander and one of his bodyguards" in Jalalabad, assassinated two militiamen who were loyal to the Afghan government in Nangarhar, killed five members of the Afghan Army in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a vehicle traveling in Nangarhar, and detonated another bomb at a Sufi shrine in the same eastern Afghan province. In addition, Amaq says that an Islamic State gunman assassinated a policeman in Quetta, Pakistan.

These are only a few of the operations recently claimed. On some occasions, there is confusion as to the identity of the jihadists responsible for any given operation, as defectors move back and forth between organizations and the Taliban is not always eager to claim credit for its attacks.

[Source: By Thomas Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, Fdds, NJ, 29Jan18]

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