Anand Gopal – Wall Street Journal January 3, 2010
A senior commander connected to the Afghan Taliban and involved with the attack against the CIA that left eight people dead said Saturday that the bombing was retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
"We attacked this base because the team there was organizing drone strikes in Loya Paktia and surrounding area," the commander said, referring to the area around Khost, the city where the U.S. facility was attacked. The commander, a prominent member of the Afghan insurgency, spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The suicide attack, which dealt the biggest loss to the agency in more than 25 years, killed a woman who was the station chief along with six other CIA officers and one private security contractor.
"We attacked on that particular day because we knew the woman who was leading the team" was there, the commander said.
The claims could not be independently verified late Saturday night and the CIA was not available for comment.
Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for attacks in the past that Western officials have later rejected.
Some drone strikes had been coordinated from the base, Western officials said. The strikes were to target senior leaders of al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and an Afghan group called the Haqqani Network. The CIA operatives located on Forward Operating Base Chapman, which is near the Pakistani border, were involved in cultivating informants to target insurgent leaders using ground raids and drone strikes.
A number of key leaders of these three groups have been killed by the strikes, which mostly occur on the Pakistani side of the border. Al Qaeda and the leadership of the Haqqani Network are believed to have bases in this area. The strikes have caused considerable anger in the tribal border areas triggered by claims that civilians have also been killed.
U.S. officials maintain that the strikes are necessary to target insurgent leaders who use the border area as a sanctuary.
Last updated 06/01/2010