Archive for May 2010
Squatting on a concrete floor with nails, wires and a plug socket scattered around his feet, Naimatullah goes carefully about his business.
“This is the detonator for the bomb,” he says in a soft voice, a small object in his hand. Then he scoops up some white powder, packing it into a plastic drinks bottle. “These are very tasty explosives, very strong,” he says.
The camera tracks Naimatullah’s hands as he crams nails, fertiliser, petrol and lime into a yellow bucket. The bomb he is making is designed to explode with a lethal burst of shrapnel, slicing through the flesh of British and American soldiers in Afghanistan. The petrol will set fire to their “infidel tanks”, he adds.
The 25-year-old Pashtun, with a neatly trimmed beard, is one of the Taliban’s bombmaking masterminds. Last week, in an interview with The Sunday Times, he displayed the video, filmed on a mobile phone, showing himself at work. It will soon be used to help train other bomb makers.
Every year Naimatullah crosses the border into Pakistan and spends a couple of months at a Taliban camp, teaching his deadly art to the next generation of bomb specialists.
The toll is heavy. Last Wednesday Corporal Stephen Curley, 26, a Royal Marine, became the latest British casualty following a blast in Helmand province. In total 181 British servicemen and women have been killed by bombs since mid-2007. Last year nearly 400 Nato troops died in explosions and 1,800 were badly wounded.
On the same day that Curley died, Naimatullah described how he operates. “I enjoy killing foreign soldiers,” he said. “I am serving my God and my nation and I am training others to do the same.”
He boasted that he had killed “lots” of American troops only a fortnight earlier by detonating a bomb under a US armoured vehicle. That attack took place in Khost province in southeast Afghanistan, where he leads a 10-man explosives unit. But his expertise has been passed on to Taliban cells operating across the entire country.
Among the victims in Helmand have been four of the most highly trained British bomb disposal experts, including Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid. Last week it emerged that their chief, Colonel Bob Seddon, has resigned, citing concerns about the amount of pressure that his men are facing in Afghanistan.
In 2007 there were 2,600 attacks using homemade bombs. In January alone this year there were 1,000 bomb attacks. Faced with such an onslaught, have Britain and its allies underestimated their enemy? And what can they do to counter bombers such as Naimatullah?
SITTING cross-legged on the floor of a safe house in Kabul, Naimatullah appeared far from threatening when I met him last week. Despite his relative youth, he was already going bald. “It is because I normally wear a turban,” he explained, smiling. Read the rest of this entry »