In the midst of the 18-hour siege of the Afghan capital city of Kabul, during which virtually every heavily defended site in the city was struck at least once, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for an investigation into how such a massive, coordinated attack could be carried out entirely by surprise.
In his statement, Karzai faulted his own intelligence agency, but said that the failure was “especially for NATO,” which of course has a much larger presence in the country. Not only was NATO caught unawares; it was issuing statements about the attack being over in the middle of the fighting.
Early on NATO was largely absent from the fighting, leaving the Afghan forces and the guards for the respective embassies on their own. Overnight, however, NATO attack helicopters began strafing the area around the British and German embassies, apparently trying to flush out militants hiding at a nearby construction site.
In the end NATO issued largely the same statements that it did when the fighting was still ongoing, praising the Afghan Army for handling the conflict more or less by themselves. Whether 18 hours of combat in the most heavily defended part of the country amounts to “handling” the situation is less apparent, however, and there seems to be serious doubt over security in the capital going forward.
Afghan officials say the attack wasn’t even carried out by the Taliban itself, reporting that they arrested a “facilitator” for the strike and he implicated the Haqqani Network, a Pakistani based faction with ties to the Taliban, but which operates more or less independently of it.