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In Anatomy of an Afghan Bombing, Clues of a Tangled War

Another possibility, according to those aware of the investigation as well as Western officials, is that the presence of the Arabs was communicated back to Quetta but someone like a cook would not have realized how important the visitors were. If the Taliban had come so close to achieving a major victory — they have unsuccessfully attempted to kill General Raziq more than three dozen times, according to him — they may have accepted that some unknown Arabs would be collateral damage.

“We were the target, but the plan was to take out whoever was in the room — whether it’s a minister or an Arab, or anyone,” said Dr. Azizi, the governor.

The Taliban, however, stand by their denial, saying that the attack was the result of an internal political rivalry among Afghan officials.

“We have no problem with the United Arab Emirates,” their spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said by telephone. “And there is no reason that someone who is helping, particularly an Islamic country, should come under attack.”

Afghan officials say that among the leading planners of the attack in Quetta was Hafiz Majeed, a close adviser to the Taliban’s supreme leader. In addition to their ideological differences, Mr. Majeed has also been locked in a rivalry with General Raziq. When the Taliban were in power, Mr. Majeed was behind digging up the remains of General Raziq’s uncle, Esmat Muslim, a ruthless militia commander, from near a holy shrine because he thought his presence was polluting.

Investigators followed the trail to Sayed Mahboob Agha, the cook at the governor’s palace. Mr. Agha was well trusted — his father before him had cooked for dozens of governors in a career that spanned four decades. And just as his father had brought him in as an assistant, Mr. Agha had brought two of his sons with him, one of whom was on duty at the governor’s house around the clock, every day.

Immediately after the attack, Afghan security agencies rounded up dozens of men, among them Mr. Agha and his sons, who were then transferred to Kabul.

Mr. Agha’s brother, Sayed Agha, said it was unfathomable that his brother would do such a thing. Intelligence officers raided their home twice, breaking lockers and wardrobes in search of evidence, and rounded up about 30 members of their extended family — including four men who worked at the presidential palace in Kabul — for questioning. One of General Raziq’s commanders also suspended one of the cook’s sons from a tree in the governor’s yard all night, he said.

Source: NYT > World

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