NIGHTWATCH: 12 Years of War, Pakistan’s Two Fertilizer Factories Still Producing Many Bombs, Some of Them Very Big…

04 Inter-State Conflict, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism

Afghanistan: Government security forces recently intercepted one of the largest truck bombs ever built, a massive “vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,” or VBIED, packed with some 61,500 pounds of explosives. The Hino heavy cargo truck was stopped as it crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan south of Peshawar. Hino Motors is owned by Toyota.

According to the press accounts, Afghan and US sources claimed the truck belonged to the Haqqani network which is responsible for almost all major bombings in Kabul and in the eastern provinces that border Pakistan, where the Haqqani syndicate is based.

The news sources suggested that a likely target was the US military’s Forward Operating Base Goode near Gardez City. According to Afghan sources, the driver was a Pakistani who set off a grenade in the cab of the truck. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he detonated a suicide vest and killed himself, officials said.

News sources reported no other casualties from the detonations.

Comment: News analysts reported that this truck bomb was 12 times greater by weight of the explosives than the Oklahoma City bomb in 1995 and six times greater than the amount of explosives used in the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing. Like the Oklahoma City bomb, the primary explosive agent was ammonium nitrate fertilizer, according to the press.

The audacity of the attempt is more impressive than the fact that authorities discovered the truck. This attempt is significant for several reasons. First, it is a monumental act of defiance of Afghan security. Second, the truck could not have come as close as it did to Gardez without significant help by Pakistani and Afghan border guards or paramilitary forces. The truck was stalled on the side of the road, apparently, when the Afghans found it.

Finally, only two fertilizer plants in Pakistan make ammonium nitrate fertilizer. These are the same two plants that have been making it throughout the duration of the US and NATO intervention in Afghanistan, the past 12 years, with impunity. Afghanistan has no fertilizer factories and only the Taliban and drug growers use this fertilizer because it is more expensive than the alternatives. The Afghan government has outlawed imports of ammonium nitrate fertilizers, but they continue to pour in.

Despite 12 years of NATO operations and ostensibly elaborate cooperation with the Pakistanis, the Haqqanis continue to operate with impunity and apparently still enjoy the protection of Pakistani military intelligence.

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