The three most recent insurgent strikes in Kabul--attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel, the British Council, and the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters--have all followed a similar pattern: The Taliban claims responsibility for the coordinated assault, the U.S. instead blames the Pakistani-based, Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, and news reports reflect the ensuing confusion. Today, for example, headlines like "Fear in Kabul After 20-Hour Taliban Siege" mix with "US Blames Haqqani Network for Kabul Attacks." So what's going on? Which group represents the true threat to stability in the capital of Afghanistan?
The Haqqani network, the BBC explains, has morphed over the years from a CIA-backed anti-Soviet group into an anti-Western militant organization led by an Afghan named Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin. The group has sworn allegiance to the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, and is one of the main factions fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan from across the border in Pakistan's tribal region (the Pakistani government has long dismissed speculation that its security agents are secretly supporting the militant group). On Wednesday, General John R Allen, the commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, said he believed the Haqqani network was behind yesterday's assault "by virtue of the complexity of the attack and the way it was executed."