The Taliban Prison Break…And It’s Aftermath

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Close to five hundred captured Taliban are now free once more to fight another day:

In one of the most elaborate prison breaks in recent Afghan history, the Taliban managed to free hundreds of inmates from Kandahar’s central prison in the early hours of Monday morning through a 1,180-foot tunnel.

The mass escape – reportedly not discovered until hours after it was over – has further shaken Afghans’ faith in their government, and intensified concerns that the freed prisoners will bolster the insurgency in Kandahar.

The escape is a particular blow to NATO and Afghan forces who have ratcheted up their campaign against the Taliban during the past year and hoped to expand their gains this summer. While NATO forces captured many of the Taliban fighters who were being held in the prison, the escape cast doubts on the ability of Afghan forces preparing to take more responsibility for providing security.

“I would call this a shameful incident for the Afghan government,” says Ahmad Shah Khan Achakzai, a former member of parliament in Kandahar. “It is impossible for the Taliban to get 500 men out of prison without anyone’s help. I believe there are some people from the prison or the government who gave the Taliban support.… It’s now clear to everyone how corrupt the government is.”

The reactions by the Afghan population have been quite angry:

…Military analyst Abdul Hadi Khaliq warns that the escapees are “radicalized, ready-to-fight, and extremist” fighters. “This shows that the Kandahar government is paralyzed or has made a deal with the enemy. Either way, major changes need to be made in Kandahar. The Kandahar authorities must be punished, not rewarded as in the past,” Khaliq argues, referring to a previous Taliban prison break in Kandahar three years ago.

Cheragh Daily also alleges that local authorities were complicit in the jail break. “Even if digging the tunnel was not a scenario to free the terrorists from prison as concessions to [Taliban] leaders, we cannot rule out involvement of powerbrokers and influential hands in the incident.” Ridiculing Hamid Karzai’s conciliatory approach to the Taliban, the paper asks the president to explain whether the escapees were “foreign elements” or “dissatisfied brothers.” The paper warns that all escapees will “return to their trenches and continue to kill defenseless Afghan people and troops.” Afghan daily Hasht-e Sobh writes that the escape of Taliban fighters could “boost the morale of the Taliban and weaken the confidence of security forces.”

…Mohammad Sarwar Usmani, a lawmaker from Farah Province, also implicates local authorities and warns that the enemies’ growing infiltration into the security forces is dangerous. Usmani calls on the Karzai government to stop releasing Taliban prisoners through the High Peace Council. The council has recently asked the United States to release Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo jail, including top Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhah. “If Khairkhah wants to make peace, we will welcome him. We will make contacts and discuss his release,” Karzai told journalist in Kabul recently. Usmani, however, argues that Taliban fighters freed from jail rejoin the terrorists and their release has had no effect on the prospect for peace.

And we’re left to ponder a few things. First, how in the hell can the coalition even think about relying on THIS government to disengage from the conflict. Second, wouldn’t it been better if these 400+ terrorists had no longer existed in the first place?

In the end it matters little from the vantage point of Taliban fighters in the countryside. As I have observed before, given the catch-and-release program, the radicalization of half-way insurgents in these prisons, and the reflexive reversion to capture rather than kill, ISAF operations that capture insurgents are becoming a literal joke among the Taliban (see prior articles). I pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to ISAF press releases that begin with “Taliban fighters detained …”

If this is offensive to sensibilities, if this causes an outcry over advocacy of harsh rules of engagement, if this causes moral preening over the rules of war, then so be it. Withdraw from Afghanistan and end the campaign now. In either case, prisons do not work in counterinsurgency. Kill them or let them go, but putting them into a fake justice system is a worthless enterprise.

The restrictions put on our soldiers fighting in either war is ridiculous and will be the undoing of any success we’ve had in the wars.

Oh, btw, had to throw this out there since it’s related to the War on Terror….more evidence of the ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

17 Responses to “The Taliban Prison Break…And It’s Aftermath”

  1. 1

    Dave Brickner

    And we are taking prisoners why???? Ask the WW II vets about taking prisoners on Okinawa. Haven’t we learned anything about fighting fanatically religious suicide troops since Japan???

  2. 2



    We are being sold out on several fronts here at home we are being sold out by Obama to Socialism by a guy who keeps his past under tighter control than our top secret military and diplomatic papers, by our wimpy Republican leadership, and in Afghanistan by the Afghan politicians who seek to get rich from our war effort and by capitulating to the Taliban. We have a chance over here, but unless we get radical in Afghanistan, there is no possible victory with a corrupt ruling class. We can’t fight and ask our troops to sacrifice to perpetuate corruption. Clean up the situation and fight the war to win or bring our troops home.

    Our own blatant corruption at home, will need to be dealt with as well.

  3. 3


    If it was up to me, there would have been NO prisoners taken- these are not rehabilitatable people- they are ignorant tribesmen who have a culture radically different than ours, and a time-out just won’t do.
    What WOULD DO would be carpet-bombing the Tora Bora with thermobaric and “Daisy- Cutter” bombs, until we ran out, then bring our forces home- but not before telling the Afghan people we would certainly be glad to come back and repeat the lesson if they hadn’t learned it the first time.
    And, one might think, Pakistan might get the message also, even if they have nukes- they could hurt us, but we could DESTROY them.

  4. 4

    Old Trooper 2

    Is it time to leave? Under the current ROE and Politically Correct approach I reckon that it is. Have We made a difference? Undoubtedly in some regards but not where it counted. Did we win a few hearts and minds? Too few to justify the continued half measures of the PC approach and continued full sacrifice of America’s Second Greatest Generation. What I refer to as the Pakistan Factor unfortunately made a difference.

    Afghan officer fires on US troops, kills 9

    Now lets review the events…

    _On April 18, an insurgent managed to sneak past security at the heavily fortified Afghan Defense Ministry compound in the capital and killed two Afghan soldiers and an officer.

    _Two days before that, an Afghan soldier walked into a meeting of NATO trainers and Afghan troops at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan and detonated a vest of explosives hidden underneath his uniform. The blast, the worst before Wednesday’s shooting, killed six American troops, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.

    _On April, 15, a suicide bomber dressed as a policeman blew himself up inside the Kandahar police headquarters complex, killing the top law enforcement officer in the restive southern province.

    _In northwest Afghanistan, a man wearing an Afghan border police uniform shot and killed two American military personnel on April 4 in Faryab. The gunman was upset over the recent burning of the Quran at a Florida church, according to NATO intelligence officials.

    _In February, an Afghan soldier, who felt he had been personally offended by his German partners, shot and killed three German soldiers and wounded six others in the northern province of Baghlan.

    _In January, an Afghan solider killed an Italian soldier and wounded another in Badghis province. The two soldiers were cleaning their weapons at a combat outpost when an Afghan soldier approached them with an M16 rifle and asked to use their equipment to clean his gun. The Italians saw that the Afghan soldier’s rifle was loaded and asked him to unload it, at which point the Afghan soldier shot the two Italians and escaped from the base.

    Before the airport shooting, the coalition had recorded 20 incidents since March 2009 where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in these type of incidents.

    According to information compiled by NATO, half of the 20 incidents involved the impersonation of an Afghan policeman or soldier. The cause of the other 10 incidents were attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons. NATO said that so far, there is no solid evidence — despite Taliban assertions — that any insurgent has joined the Afghan security forces for the sole purpose of conducting attacks on coalition or Afghan forces.

  5. 6

    Old Trooper 2

    @ Dink Newcomb, The “Whack – A Mole Factor”. Missions flown by Pilots at Nellis AFB like video games.
    Drone Warfare leaves no boot prints but has an enormous benefit, it totally impersonalizes killing. But the collateral damage issue remains. Giving this tool and instrument of high tech weaponry to Pakistan is in my point of view irresponsible and not warranted. Wait until the Paks use them on India.

  6. 7

    Dink Newcomb

    @Old Trooper 2 #6:
    Sorry Troop. I am still somewhat green to blogging and the inability to make a statement without my voice dripping with scorn and incredulity seems to need another look for some updates. You stated my point almost exactly! The link I cited was to an Indian paper and they are understandably concerned with the Pakis having one more weapon against them. I have to give them credit— they are in a pretty crappy situation there, yet they largely keep their mouths shut about the Afghan/Paki situation. In my news reading, I frequently go to the Indian papers to get a different slant on politics. Politically, its not safe and sane there either.

  7. 9


    Funny, but Afghanistan was not always the way it is today. The once culturally diverse Afghanistan has been going downhill for some time before the US arrived. Not even the massive Bamiyan Budah (the largest known Budah) could remain.

    Now if this was any indication of what was yet to come…

    The ROE are unacceptable. That being said; I don’t believe launching a million daisy cutters will cure our terrorist problem.

    Looking at the layout of Afghanistan; the Pashtun tribes make up quite a bit of the population and seem to be rather secluded in the mountain areas, maybe if we could charm our way in we would make some diplomatic headway, win some strategic ground.

    The rules could change in 2012, I don’t know if that’s soon enough. But anyway, I try not to be to vocal on certain issues.

  8. 10

    stan karamol

    I have been to Afghanistan and fought there. Just nuke the whole *&^%$#@ country and be done with it we will never win there hearts and minds.

  9. 14

    Dink Newcomb

    Has anyone else gotten any email disguised as a new comment reply from Flop. Aces, showing [email protected] as the sender of a comment by thesexylingerie but was really spam from ???
    I got one email on this thread and one on another thread tonight. When I click the read more link it takes me to the FA thread page but the spam comment is not posted. Has FA been hacked somehow orr has my email address being used maliciously

  10. 15



    Dink and Bees… occasionally spam makes it thru the spam filters and ends up on a thread. In that case, it’s sent to you, just like any other comment. When one of we authors logs in and sees the spam, we delete it… which is why you don’t necessarily see the comment after you come to FA and that thread.

  11. 16

    Dink Newcomb

    Thanks for your prompt reply Mata. I do not have a whole lot of faith in the “goodness” of humanity and when stuff like this happens I suspect the worst. I could not figure out how it came to me as a reply but didn’t show up on the thread. Very understandable.
    I also sent an alert to you folks via your contact email.

  12. 17

    Percy Wells

    I am in Afganistan right now, the ROE is for making them feel good while they are killing us. Diplomacy in the mountains?! They will kill you, and you can’t shoot back or even insult them.

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