New tactic: Attacker in Afghanistan hid bomb in body

Afghanistan’s spy chief,Asadullah Khalid,was taking no chances.

Written by New York Times | Kabul | Published: June 11, 2013 2:59 am

Afghanistan’s spy chief,Asadullah Khalid,was taking no chances.

A man had crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan with important information he said he would only deliver personally to Khalid,who had just taken over as the head of the National Directorate of Security.

Khalid’s aides took the visitor to an armoured room in the basement of a safe house in Taimani,an upscale neighbourhood in the capital city,for a security screening. They were no doubt mindful of what happened in September 2011 when a Taliban peace emissary was allowed to meet with a prominent Afghan peace envoy and then killed him with a bomb hidden in his turban.

Watching the man over closed-circuit television,they ordered him to strip naked,which he did. Satisfied,they let him get dressed and took him to see their boss upstairs.

Then he blew up. The suicide bomber killed only himself,but Khalid sustained severe injuries.

Now,months after that attack,on Dec. 6,a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security,Shafiqullah Tahiri,confirmed that the attacker had hidden the bomb inside his rectum.

Two other Afghan security officials confirmed that the bomb had been hidden internally. Officials had earlier been quoted as saying the bomb had been hidden in the attacker’s underwear.

The last time such a bomb was known to be used was in an attempt to kill a Saudi prince with a device thought to be the work of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri,one of the most skilled bomb makers of al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

Afterward,the counterterrorism unit of Europol,Europe’s police agency,warned that airlines might have to tighten their screening procedures because a rectal bomb could escape detection by normal X-ray scanning machines.

“The sensitivity and power of these machines would need to be increased or reviewed,in order to overcome shielding of the device by the human body,” Europol’s report said.

Asiri is also believed to be the creator of underwear bomb,used in an abortive attempt to bring down a US airliner in 2009.

ROD NORDLAND

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