THREE AMERICANS were among the 21 victims of a brutal attack Friday by the Taliban at a popular restaurant in Kabul frequented by foreign workers from nongovernmental agencies. How the Obama administration responds militarily to the deadliest attack against foreign civilians since the war began 13 years ago will speak volumes.
The Islamic extremist Taliban, ousted from power in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion, has kept up a campaign of death and destruction aimed not only at the coalition forces under NATO, but the government of President Hamid Karzai. The Islamists have the blood of thousands of Afghans on their hands, which is why each act of terror raises concerns about the ability of the Afghan government to stay in power after U.S. forces leave this year.
The three Americans killed in the La Taverna du Liban attack were Alexis Kamerman and Alexandros Petersen — educators working for the American University of Afghanistan — and Somali-American Basra Hassan, a UNICEF nutrition specialist.
The Taliban wasted little time in claiming responsibility, saying it was in reprisal for an Afghan military operation earlier in the week against insurgents in eastern Parwan province, which the insurgents claimed killed many civilians. The Taliban frequently provide exaggerated casualty figures, according to the Associated Press.
“The target of the attack was a restaurant frequented by high-ranking foreigners,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement. He said the attack targeted a place “where the invaders used to dine with booze and liquor in the plenty.”
He described the “revenge attack” as having delivered a “heavy admonitory blow to the enemy, which they shall never forget.”
The Obama administration strongly condemned the attack, saying, “There is no possible justification for this attack, which has killed innocent civilians, including Americans. We call again on the Taliban to put down their arms and begin peace talks, which is the surest way to end the conflict in a peaceful manner,.”
Such a statement is to be expected, but President Obama can’t believe that words alone will persuade the Taliban militants and other terrorist groups operating in and around Afghanistan to lay down their arms and participate in peace talks.
When they were in power, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist. Executions of perceived enemies were commonplace, and Sharia law ensured an adherence to Islam. It was against this backdrop that Osama bin Laden was able to set up training camps for his al-Qaida terrorists. Most of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers of America’s homeland came from the camps.
That’s why anything less than a hard-hitting military response to last week’s attack in Kabul will be viewed as a victory for the terrorists and simply embolden the Taliban and other such organizations. The Obama administration has had great success in taking out most of the key leaders of al-Qaida, including bin Laden. It should use the same strategy in going after the Taliban.
It is widely known that the Islamic militants operate from camps inside Pakistan and are being protected by tribal lords in the mountainous areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Obama should order drone attacks in that region to be stepped up and should also consider military operations similar to the one that resulted in bin Laden being killed by Navy SEALS deep inside Pakistan.