April 27, 2011: Afghan air force pilot attacks US soldiers in Afghanistan

On April 27, 2001 the Taliban claimed an attack by an Afghan air force pilot in which eight US troops and a US contractor were killed.

KABUL AIRPORT, AFGHANISTAN – There cannot be much worse than having an army officer/terrorist kill you when you are there to help train him and his colleagues to combat terrorism.

In the wake of 9/11 there was a tendency to see counter terrorism (CT) primarily as a military-led objective. This was a shift from the pre-9/11 days where security intelligence and law enforcement agencies were at the pointy end of the stick. It did not help when then US President Bush called CT a ‘war on terrorism‘ (psst, Mr. President! Declaring wars on common nouns is rarely a good idea. War on drugs, anyone?).

As a consequence the US sent hundreds of thousands of troops to Afghanistan to find and punish the perpetrators of that heinous attack on New York and Washington and, less than two years later, a similar number to Iraq to…to what exactly? Neither ended well, whether we are talking about the effect on terrorism or on the local population.

Part of the raison d’etre was also to provide training to Afghan/Iraq forces to do their CT work, allowing the invading forces to leave. There, too, the results were mixed. Sometimes, those troops themselves were attacked by the very soldiers they thought were on their side.

There isn’t a common noun we can’t fight! (Photo: By Sergeant Joseph R. Chenelly, United States Marine Corps, Public Domain)

On this day in 2001

Eight US troops and a US contractor were killed by an Afghan air force pilot at Kabul airport. While there were allegations that the pilot may have had mental health issues, the Taliban claimed he acted on their behalf.

Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started. After the shooting started, we saw a number of Afghan army officers and soldiers running out of the building. Some were even throwing themselves out of the windows to get away.

Spokesman for the Afghan Air Corps, Col Bahader

During the Afghan mission there were those who feared that rapid recruitment into the Afghan military would open the door to Taliban infiltration into the police and army. It looks like that fear was justified.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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