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Afghan forces arrest suspected ISIS recruiter, trio behind Kabul attack that killed 150

Gen. John Nicholson, NATO Resolute Support commander, and his chief of staff, German Lt. Gen. Jurgen Weigt, visit the blast site after a deadly attack May 31, 2017, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Police say they have arrested the Taliban operative who planned the 2017 attack that killed 150 and injured more.

EGDANIS TORRES SIERRA/U.S. NAVY

By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 11, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three men suspected of being responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack in Kabul and another man accused of recruiting hundreds of Islamic State fighters were arrested on Saturday, the national intelligence agency said.

Mohammad Sharif, Mohammad Jawed and Ghulam Mustafa, members of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, were described by the National Directorate of Security as the masterminds of the May 2017 attack outside Kabul’s Green Zone that killed 150 people.

A truck bomb was used in the attack, which destroyed the German Embassy and was felt at the nearby U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters buildings.

The trio was also behind a separate attack in November that killed five employees of a defense contracting company, the NDS said in a statement on Monday. In that attack, Taliban fighters, including a suicide bomber, stormed a compound on the outskirts of Kabul used by G4S, which resulted in an 11-hour battle with the police. Over 30 people were wounded.

“NDS forces are trying their best to target terrorists wherever they are hiding,” the agency statement said. Intelligence officials declined to explain the specific roles each of the detained men played in organizing the assaults.

In a separate incident on Saturday, NDS special operations forces arrested Abu Obaidullah Mutawakil, a former university lecturer, for recruiting militants for the local Islamic State affiliate.

Mutawakil recruited hundreds of young people for the group, which in recent years has become one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, the agency said.

Combating ISIS is at the core of the U.S. counterterrorism mission in the country. Those efforts are separate from NATO’s mission, which focuses solely on training and advising Afghans.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

wellman.phillip@stripes.com

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