Murphy's Law: July 28, 2003


Command Detonated Mines continue to be popular terrorist weapons in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Taliban trainer "Mr. Jan" is an instructor, holding classes in how to make command detonated mines in places like the refugee camp at Chaman in south-western Pakistan. Jan boasted that he taught recruits how "to make explosives, how to make and detonate remote control bombs. You don't need any high quality instrument or gadgets to make a remote control bomb. You can use the timers of washing machines or even fans." 

Jan is constantly moving to avoid detection, traveling across the porous Pakistani border and always plotting a violent return to Afghanistan. His targets are Americans and any Afghans who support them. Mullah Malang is another Taliban instructor who has set up mobile training camps in Pakistan's border provinces, where new recruits learn how to use dogs and donkeys fitted with explosives to attack coalition checkpoints. Turned loose nearby, the terrorists watch until the animal wanders close enough to a checkpoint and then detonate the bomb by remote control. 

Suspected Taliban fugitives have carried out scores of attacks against Afghan soldiers and U.S.-led coalition forces in the violent Khost province, where an Afghan patrol from a special unit working with coalition forces to monitor regions that border Pakistan was hit on the 18th. Eight Afghan soldiers were killed when their vehicle was blown up by a remote-controlled mine.

Political undesirables are targets as well, no matter who else gets in the way. On 31 June, a remote-controlled bomb blast ripped through a mosque in Kandahar as worshippers gathered for the final prayer of the day, wounding 16 people (four seriously). No one took responsibility for the explosion, but Mullah Abdullah Fayaz blamed the former ruling Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. Fayaz is head of Kandahar's religious council (aligned with President Hamid Karzai's government) and two months prior, had issued a fatwa (or religious edict) condemning the Taliban's interpretation of Islam. 

Sometimes the good guys get lucky. On June 17th, Afghan police officers with the help of International Security Force peacekeepers, defused a remote control bomb concealed in a spent tank shell. The bomb was lying on a road across from a technical school in a western neighborhood of Kabul. At the end of May, a remote-controlled bomb was detonated near a vehicle carrying US special forces along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, but no casualties were reported. The device went off as the troops were conducting a reconnaissance patrol at a border checkpoint near the eastern town of Khost.

But these attacks are successful enough that their tactics are worth careful scrutiny. Pakistani police believe the June 14th bomb blast outside of American consulate that killed 10 and wounded 51 others was planted in a Toyota Corolla belonging to a local driving school without the knowledge of the four women who were in it when it exploded. 

Police did not check the car as it was carrying women and the students drove at a slow pace, keeping to the extreme left and always taking the same route. Those who planted the bomb either followed the car or waited for it to reach the consulate and exploded the bomb using a remote device. Simultaneously, a kid carrying a cell phone was seen asking a local journalist about the US consulate location and whether the offices were on the right or left side of the building when entering the consulate complex. The women were expendable, of course, because they were doing something treacherously western - learning to drive. 

The blast took place minutes later, shattering windows, destroying a boundary wall and several nearby vehicles and leaving a three-foot-deep crater. A previously unknown militant group called "Al-Qanoon" claimed responsibility for a bombing. 

A successful Command Detonated Mine attack is a great way to get noticed, if you're new to the game. Another car bomb was detonated in Kabul on June 7, killing four German peacekeepers. Malang attributed this attack to Arabs and Uzbeks, although reports at the time suggested it was a coordinated effort by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Hizb-i Islami. - Adam Geibel 


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