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Afghanistan intelligence has foiled a plot hatched in Pakistan to assassinate President Hamid Karzai. An Afghan government spokesman identified six Afghani citizens — including one of Karzai’s bodyguards — who were recruited by two Arab nationals based in Pakistan, to carry out the attacks. The men confessed that the Haqqani network was behind the plot.
Computers seized by authorities also revealed the group planned several other attacks, including targets in Kabul, Europe, and the US. And the revelations come on the same day that President Karzai signed a surprise security pact with India, further complicating relations with Pakistan.
The UK Telegraph is reporting that the Afghan intelligence agency, the NDS, was tipped by a source in Pakistan. The men arrested were a university professor, three university students, a Kabul resident and an employee of the presidential palace, believed to be a presidential bodyguard. They planned to attack Karzai on one of his frequent trips to the provinces.
This is the third serious assassination plot against President Karzai. In 2002, another presidential bodyguard opened fire on Karzai but missed him, killing two others and wounding an American special operations member who was guarding the president. And a 2008 attack by Haqqani during a military parade Karzai was attending came close to succeeding when several bystanders near the president were killed.
The revelations regarding the plot come on the heels of charges made by the governments of Afghanistan and the United States that the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has close ties to Haqqani, as well as other charges made by Afghanistan tying the Haqqani network specifically to the assassination of the government’s peace envoy to the Taliban, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Several other high profile assassination attempts in Afghanistan have succeeded recently, all tied to either the Taliban or Haqqani. In addition to the death of Rabbani, which has resulted in the suspension of peace talks with the Taliban, the president’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed by his own bodyguard in July. Less than a week later, Jan Mohammad Khan, a senior aide to the president, was killed in an attack on his home in Kabul. The Taliban is suspected of having a hand in both assassinations, with the possible knowledge of the ISI.
And as if the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan couldn’t get any rockier, President Karzai’s surprise trip to India on Wednesday to sign a security pact with New Delhi, will no doubt roil the already tense relationship with Islamabad. According to the Washington Post, the pact will “step up cooperation in counterterrorism operations, training of security forces and trade.” The pact will also increase cultural and political exchanges as well as offer assistance to Afghanistan in stabilizing the country.
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