Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Attack on Kabul's American University in Afghanistan ends after two gunmen are killed.

Afghan police on scene at Kabul's American University. Reuters. 

A terrorist attack on the American University in Kabul, Afghanistan is over after two gunmen are killed. Reuters. The attack is confirmed to have killed one security officer and wounded 21 people, six of them critically. The attack started with a car bomb and then gunmen entered the university. Over 500 people were rescued by Afghan security forces. Students reported hiding in their classrooms or jumping out of 2nd floor windows to escape from the terrorists. The gunmen were able to enter the University despite armed guards and watch towers. No one has taken credit for the attack but both the Taliban and ISIS are possible suspects. The university has been targeted in the past. Two teachers there, an American and an Australian were abducted on August 7th.   

My Comment:
I followed this story this morning and I have to say that I am relieved. From what it sounded like then, I thought this attack was going to result in way more then one death. We have seen these kinds of terrorist attacks before and they usually end in a blood bath. It's a tragedy that one person was killed and 21 more were wounded, but I was expecting way worse. Still, those numbers could be preliminary in nature.

EDIT: Shortly after posting this the Afghan government released updated casualty figures. 7 people are dead in total, with 30 wounded. That's way worse then was initially reported, but still not as bad as I was expecting. Hopefully, the casualty figures don't go up again. 

Radical Islam has had a long history of hating western style education. They tend to see schools and universities not under their control as indoctrination centers. There is a bit of truth to that, but that doesn't justify the hatred that radical Muslims have for education. Remember, there is a terrorist group who's very name, Boko Haram, means that western education is forbidden/a sin. 

I'm not sure who is responsible for this attack. The typical suspects are al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban. I think we can dismiss al-Qaeda. Their operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been greatly curtailed and they are a shell of their former selves. It is possible that they are responsible but I think it is very unlikely. I only include them for the sake of completion. 

ISIS is another possible choice, but again, I don't find that too likely. For one, they do not have that many forces in Afghanistan. ISIS's attempts to gain ground in Afghanistan have largely failed. Also, I think if it was ISIS, the death count would have been way higher. ISIS doesn't screw around and if they were going to attack a target like the American University, they would have killed dozens. 

That leaves the Taliban. They are obviously very active in Afghanistan and have taken back much of the country. They have also conducted attacks like this before. The Taliban have a long history of targeting schools and universities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also tend to have some standards and don't go all out when it comes to terrorist attacks. ISIS is way more brutal then they are, so given the low casualty count in this attack I think it is likely that they are the ones responsible. 

Afghanistan itself is kind of a basket case these days even without this terrorist attack. The Taliban has taken back much of the country and ISIS is at least trying to expand there. But the media coverage there is largely non-existent. I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, but in my defense, I use the American and Western media to find my sources. If they don't cover it, it's hard for me to do so.

Why is this the case? Well for one, there are other, larger wars going on right now. Syria, Iraq and Libya have more things going on and have the added bonus of contributing to the massive migration crisis that Europe is undergoing right now. Afghanistan is involved in that as well, but not to the same extent. ISIS is getting all the headlines so the Taliban's advance in Afghanistan is going to be ignored.

Another major factor is that the presidential election is dominating the news cycle. Amazingly enough, Afghanistan never seems to come up even though we have troops still deployed there. One of them even died this week, but I didn't hear any of the candidates talk about it. Indeed, I have watched the election since coverage started and the only time I remember anyone talking about it was during on of the Democratic debate when Bernie Sanders was asked about Afghanistan. He totally flubbed the question and looked like he forgot that we were even still in Afghanistan. To be fair to Sanders, it seems like everyone has forgotten about Afghanistan... 

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