The details of the Taliban's nearly six-hour attack on Kabul's six-story luxury Intercontinental Hotel are beginning to come into focus and they make for a gripping tale. For starters, it's now clear that this wasn't some spontaneous operation. Taliban commander Qari Talha tells The Daily Beast that the group had spent the past week planning the attack and that Taliban officials kept in touch with the assailants from an "operations room" in Kabul as the raid unfolded. He suggested that the Taliban had "sympathizers" in the hotel who fed the group information about the building's layout and vulnerabilities, and added that "one or two" insurgents actually stayed in a hotel room as guests for three days and smuggled weapons into the facility before meeting the other assailants on Tuesday night. While the Taliban is claiming responsibility, Fox News and ABC's Nick Schifrin are reporting that the Taliban-affiliated, Pakistani-based Haqqani network is in fact behind the attack
How did the raid go down? Several reports explain that at around 10 p.m. in Afghanistan, on the eve of a conference in the capital about transitioning security to the Afghan government, eight or nine militants armed with explosive vests, automatic rifles, anti-aircraft weapons, and grenade launchers managed to get past checkpoints, police guards, intelligence officers, and metal detectors at the hotel, where around 70 guests--including provincial governors in town for the conference--were staying (Afghan officials are still investigating how the insurgents infiltrated the building, saying only that they believe there was a "loophole in security"). Some of the attackers "carried tape recorders playing Taliban war songs and shot at anyone they saw," according to Reuters. They "used different floors of the hotel as positions for shooting guests who were in the garden," according to the Times, and even fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, according to journalist Bette Dam.