Suicide bomber that killed four Americans, wounded 17 was hired to work at Bagram Airbase

Sgt. Daniel S. Kennedy, from Tuttle, Okla., who serves with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, and an Afghan Uniformed Policeman provide security during an Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Program (APRP) shura May 2, 2013 in Takhteh Pol district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The APRP is a nation-wide Afghan program that provides insurgents with an opportunity to peacefully and permanently rejoin their communities. (U.S. Army photo)

Four are dead and 17 wounded after a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up just north of Kabul at Bagram Airbase.

Two U.S. military service members and two U.S. contractors were killed, and 16 other U.S. service members were wounded, along with a Polish soldier who was part of the NATO mission, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement.

The attacker was identified as Qari Enayatullah, a resident of Laghmani village in the Bagram district, district governor Haji Abdul Shukur Quddusi said on November 13 as reported by BBC.

It’s believed Enayatullah re-entered Afghan society in 2008 under the Afghan reconciliation program, which is designed to make peace with former Taliban extremists. It is also being reported he gained access to the installation, which is claimed to be one of the most secure installations in the world, because of current or past employment at the base.

The bombing is one in a string of attacks in which the radicals are using momentum to make significant gains in their stronghold of the region.

The attack at Bagram follows an attack on the German consulate two days prior in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif that killed four people and wounded more than 100 others. The Taliban is taking responsibility for both attacks and said the bombing in Mazar-i-Sharif is in response for recent airstrikes in the northern city of Kunduz that they claim killed more than 30 civilians.

These bombings raise several questions. How was Enayatullah able to access the installation, and how was he able to gain employment on the base even though it’s reported he had previous ties to the Taliban?

Enayatullah was an ex-Taliban fighter who joined the Reconciliation program in 2008, reported The Daily Caller. The program’s vision is to achieve a just and durable peace by reaching a political solution to the conflict, promoting dialogue and taking measures to reintegrate armed opposition groups back into society.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) has reintegrated 1,965 former insurgents and reports these ex-fighters have acquired marketable skills through APRP-funded vocational training programs.

In an interview the National Public Radio, Douglas Keh who is the country director for the U.N. Development Program in Afghanistan said, the basic APRP assumption was that it was, indeed, economic factors that were driving the conflict and that would therefore be able to lead many of these fighters away from the fighting force.

When asked if the program is sustainable, he said in all development work, the basic idea is to use initial financial support as a catalyst. But also focus on the long-term market-driven factors that can create jobs for the long term. He believes if given the chance to do this all over again, he would focus much more on seeing what could be done in the absence of a peace agreement that would be sustainable.

According to an Afghan news report in 2015, the program has set aside 782 million US dollars but has achieved little gains -claiming conflict has further intensified.

Although programs like APRP are in place, it’s yet to be seen if anything can help to erase the Taliban’s extremist view of the west or the radical ideology that leads its followers to strap bombs to children to further its narrative of hate.

U.S.-backed Afghan Security Forces have suffered 15,000 injuries in the first eight months of 2016, with 5,523 ending in death, according to the Daily Caller.

“I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress in September. A senior U.S. administration official went further and termed the overall Afghan situation as an “eroding stalemate.”

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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