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Inside the Benghazi Anniversary Attack: Local Reports Show Gravity of Herat Consulate Assault

State Department says it was a quick response amid high security, but Afghan reporters say attackers made it in the gates and Special Forces arrived after a two-hour gunbattle.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

September 13, 2013 - 6:30 pm
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It’s the second time the consulate has come under attack since it opened in 2010, Ghafoory noted. A rocket attack damaged part of the building last year.

The Herat consulate is near two popular city parks and Herat University, meaning the early-morning attack wasn’t intended to inflict civilian casualties but gain Benghazi-style entry.

Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported that the car bombs were followed by a third attacker wearing a suicide vest who made it inside the gates before he detonated. “The attackers wore uniforms similar to those of the consulate guards,” the report said, citing the local police chief. “…Helicopters were seen hovering over the consulate after the operation had ended and two copters were seen landing on the consulate premises.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility and extrapolated the damage as they usually do: “A martyrdom attack on the US consulate in Herat city has caused the enemy forces heavy losses. … Following the explosion, 8 other lions of Islam equipped with explosives vests as well as heavy and light weapons penetrated inside the building and took up positions from where they targeted the enemy forces inside as well as those approaching from outside, sparking a three and a half clash during which some 27 foreign invaders were killed and wounded as well as 17 combined hireling troops killed and 35 others wounded besides the enemy sustaining heavy damage including 12 vehicles destroyed.”

“We have proved with this attack that the Americans are safe nowhere,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said in a statement issued to Pajhwok Afghan News.

Herat Gov. Said Fazel Waheed said “the complexity of actions today were beyond the capability of an Afghan.”

Harf wouldn’t say that the Taliban were behind the attack. “I would strongly note how we worked very closely and very well with them to secure this facility and to neutralize the attackers,” she said. “…I would, again, remind everyone that there were no American casualties at this point, and just no American casualties, period, I should say.”

“We are grateful for the quick response of the Afghan and ISAF security forces who secured the facility and kept our personnel safe. We thank the governor of Herat and the government of Afghanistan for their support and ongoing partnership,” Ambassador James Cunningham said in a statement.

There wasn’t much reaction on Capitol Hill over the first strike on a U.S. consulate since Benghazi.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said it showed the need to pass new embassy security legislation.

“Days after we paused to honor four brave Americans killed last year in Benghazi and pledged to move forward with renewed vigor to properly fund and secure our diplomatic posts overseas, we are reminded yet again of the severe challenges our personnel face, especially in high-risk, high-threat facilities,” Menendez said.

“This unconscionable act cannot go unpunished and our forces, working with Afghan counterparts, must track down and strike back against those responsible,” he continued. “At this critical juncture in our engagement in Afghanistan, attacks against our facilities cannot be tolerated by the Taliban or any other insurgent group.”

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
Don't rule out Iran on this. Herat is very close to the Iranian border.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Expect more and worse, now that Obama has signaled unconditional retreat from the Middle East, and abject cowardice ... er, excuse me, smart diplomacy ... everywhere else.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Special Forces arrived after a two-hour gunbattle."

Well at least they sent somebody, unlike Benghazi. They must not have had anything big to coverup and there's no election coming up soon. And they probably didn't ask Obama anyway.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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We can expect increased attacks on American consulates and the Embassy.
If one reads Lady Florentina Sale's "Journal of the First Afghan War," the reader learns that as British forces withdrew from Kabul in the 19th century, the retreat was devastating.
"On January 6, 1842, a force that with its followers of 16,000 marched from Kabul under an illusionary safe conduct, and one week later later Surgeon William Brydon rode alone into Jellalabad - the only British survivor. Men, women, children lad dead long the ninety mile route, some killed by ruthless Afghan enemy, the rest frozen to death in the snow."
Unless the Pentagon is prepared for a protected withdrawal in 2014, the date that Obama has signaled to the Taliban ahead of time, the U.S. will suffer the same fate as the British did in the 19th century.
I am not sure Obama knows much about anything, certainly not about history and military history specifically, but the tune-up response by the agents of death at this Consulate is a warning to those who have ears to hear and minds that understand the fact that history does teach valued lessons. One must read history first and then anticipate the likely response one needs to take, based on past performance in the theater of war.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
You should read William Dalrymple's "Return of a King", a new history of the First Anglo-Afghan War 1838-1842. Uses many more contemporary accounts, including Lady Sale's journal. She survived the Retreat From Kabul only because some officer's wives were taken hostage. When you read about Britain's response, the Army of Retribution, you start understanding why Afghanistan is what it is!

Dalrymple ends his history by retracing the Retreat, and one of his Afghan guides says "Next it will be China's turn"

The Taliban are not indigenous in Herat, not even during the 1990's civil war.
The Afghan Taliban are mostly Ghilzai Pashtuns. Pakistan Taliban is mostly Mehsud Pashtuns (with a longstanding blood fued with the Yousefzai Pashtuns who dominate Pakistan's Swat Valley.

I wish every report today would identify the 'Taliban' tribal afffiliation.

There was a recent report about the difficulties the USA/NATO forces are having in removing supplies, vehicles, etc. Seems the Afghans wanted 70milUSD in 'tariffs' to exit to Peshawar. USA refused to pay. PROOF that no one reads history. The First Anglo-Afghan War started in part when Britain told the Ghilzais they had to take a pay cut. After the disaster that was the Retreat from Kabul, the British learned their lesson: Pay the Pashtuns.

But Herat has always been Persian, not Pashtun.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a silly, nonsensical statement by the State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf.....

"Our security measures here were effective. The attackers were utilized. ...."

How were these attackers ....."utilized"......?

Nonsense like this is why we pay so little attention to what the State Department says about anything.

Out of "Foggy Bottom", indeed.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I noticed "utilized" also. He probably either said or meant neutralized.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well the Obama/Biden regime is in full retreat from the area and we will soon see the helicopters on the roof of the embassy evacuating American personnel. Prepare America to receive millions of displaced Islamic afghans who will be flooding our shores in a short time and adding to the number of democrat voters in future elections. America is doomed and it is time to wake up.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why is everyone in the press so abysmally stupid?
Look at what the governor of Herat said. He said that because he's trying to provide a hint - one which should be EXTREMELY obvious.
These terrorists, and their comrades, are equipped, trained, sheltered, given logistics and intelligence support by.....P A K I S T A N. Specifically, the ISI.
America is now in the same kind of war that India has been fighting in Jammu-Kashmir for 66 years. There is only ONE way out - the afghans need to be trained and motivated to handle their own border and internal security. Otherwise, an American withdrawal will result in a re-occupied Afghanistan that will become a magnificent base for jihadists the world over.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Next time, can we just nuke both AFghanistan and Pakistan and let who-ever's left climb out of the smoking rubble? And *not* rebuild anything. Quarantine the whole region. I know Pakistan is supposed to have their own nukes, but there is such a thing as radiation decay and as far as I know they haven't touched one off in decades, so I refuse to believe that the Paki's are a nuclear power any more.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't rule out Iran on this. Herat is very close to the Iranian border.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Expect more and worse, now that Obama has signaled unconditional retreat from the Middle East, and abject cowardice ... er, excuse me, smart diplomacy ... everywhere else.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another way of looking at this Central Asian enemy Muslim mess is that after a decade of very bloody American and British combat involvement there, supplemented by the horrendous waste of countless zillions of dollars and materiel falling into who knows whose out-of-country bank accounts, and unknown Muslim enemy hands [Pakistani?] because of the impossibility of any effective accounting procedures....why, oh, why should we Americans continue with this folly?

Forget "Obama signaling unconditional retreat form the Middle East"; forget Obama altogether.

Pragmatic common sense say get away from the futility and folly of thinking we have allies in these vipers Karzai and Maliki.

We Americans are being very skillfully used by these Muslim leaders of these artificially bordered entities".

Remember that we could stay inside that arena for decades more, shedding more young American blood......to what end? The Afghanis, Iraqis, and Pakistanis simply aren't worth our blood.

Leave that arena and quarantine it. Let these Muslims cannibalize each other. We'll hold their coats while being offstage, for a welcome change.








44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Harf expressed gratitude for “the quick response of the Afghan and the ISAF security forces who secured the facility and kept our personnel safe.”

The Afghan "security forces" were probably in on the attack.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Special Forces arrived after a two-hour gunbattle."

Well at least they sent somebody, unlike Benghazi. They must not have had anything big to coverup and there's no election coming up soon. And they probably didn't ask Obama anyway.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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