Chinese hotel attacker resurfaces for suicide attack on Kabul military airport
The alleged suicide bomber, Abdul-Jabbar, was identified by AW investigators as one of the two attackers of the Kabul Longan Hotel last month, who was seen escaping by climbing down the hotel's balconies during the hotel attack.
9 Jan 2023
On January 1, 2023, an attack near the Kabul Military Airport resulted in at least seven visually confirmed [WARNING: GRAPHIC] casualties. A Taliban government source, contacted by Al-Jazeera, claimed the explosion resulted in 14 dead and 18 injured. AW investigators geolocated the attack near one of the gates of the military section at Kabul airport, along 80 Metre Road in PD15, Kabul.
The initial graphic images were accompanied by claims the attack was caused by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). However, analysis of the graphic footage by AW investigators shows no indication of an VBIED and the damage appears to be minor, likely caused by a suicide vest. This was also later claimed by ISKP.
On January 2, 2023, ISKP claimed the attack at the Kabul military airport in a message shared on their Telegram channels, stating: “With the grace of Allah Almighty, one of the knights of martyrdom, brother Abdul-Jabbar, may Allah accept him, went towards a gathering of the apostate Taliban militia in front of the gate of the military section at Kabul airport yesterday. And that was while they were carrying out the procedures for checking the cards before entering the military section when the martyrdom detonated his explosive belt in the midst of their crowd, which led to the death and injury of about 50 Taliban members, and praise be to Allah.”
Along with the statement, Aamaq News, an Islamic State publication, shared a photo of the perpetrator of the attack, who was identified as Tajik by the Islamic State magazine ‘Al Naba’. AW investigators identified the alleged suicide bomber as one of the two attackers of the Kabul Longan Hotel on December 12, 2022, likely one of the four individuals seen escaping the hotel during the incident. The perpetrator was identified climbing down the balconies based on his clothing, which matched an image and video [shared by Aamaq News] taken in the hotel, while the perpetrator [along with his co-conspirator] claimed this attack. He was recorded climbing down at least three hotel floors using the balconies until he reached the roof of a nearby structure.
In the footage showing the likely perpetrator of both attacks climbing down the hotel balconies, no weapons or munitions are seen on his person. However, he wears new clothes and weapons in the image shared after his alleged second attack at the Kabul Military Airport. This likely indicates the perpetrator has a hideout in Kabul, and possibly other cell members provide him with the explosives needed to conduct his second attack.
The image below provides a comparison between a photo of one of the hotel attackers (left), an image of the airport attacker shared by Aamaq News, along with the claim of the attack (top right) and the clothing items of the man filmed climbing down the hotel (bottom right).
After the December 12, 2022 attack on the Kabul Longan Hotel, the Taliban's official statement claimed three attackers were killed. However, as mentioned above, only two ISKP members were involved in the incident, and one escaped. It is unclear whether or not the Taliban misidentified two individuals or deliberately provided false information. The Taliban has not officially commented on the attacker’s role in both the hotel and airport incidents.
Background: Previous attacks along the 80 Metre Road
The 80 Metre Road has seen previous suicide attacks. On May 22, 2022, ISKP claimed a suicide attack against Taliban members in Kabul. The explosion occurred as the Taliban commemorated the anniversary of the death of the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. The attack was geolocated in front of the Istqlal wedding hall, approximately 1500 meters from the suicide bombing along the 80 Metre Road on January 1, 2023.
On October 5, 2022, an explosion occurred at a mosque inside the Ministry of Interior compound along the 80 Metre Road, 1500 meters away from the suicide bombing on January 1, 2023. The explosion remains unclaimed. Emergency NGO, a Kabul-based hospital, [WARNING: GRAPHIC] claimed that they received 20 patients from the mosque bombing, two of whom died on arrival.