Two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan – both aimed at foreign workers or military forces, left at least 14 civilians dead and three U.S. troops wounded on Tuesday, according to Afghan officials.
The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan, ISAF, confirmed only that a suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest attacked in the Kunar province’s Watahpur district, wounding three foreign troops.
A senior Afghan security official tells CBS News that the bomber walked into a group of American soldiers and local residents who had gathered for a ceremony launching work on a new bridge. He said the ISAF troops wounded were Americans, and an Afghan civilian was also killed in the blast.
Earlier Tuesday, a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital, killing at least 13 people in an attack that a militant group said was revenge for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad.
A senior Kabul police official tells CBS News the dead include eight South Africans, four Afghan nationals and one person from Kyrgyzstan. Many of the victims were employees of an aviation company, including pilots. Two sources have told CBS News separately that the victims of the attack worked for a company contracted to fly U.S. State Department staff within Afghanistan, Aviation Charter Solutions (ACS),
Information about the slain interpreter was not available.
WASHINGTON — A U.S. government aid worker killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan was a former master planner for Prince George’s County.
Forty-three-year-old Ragaei Abdelfattah was killed Wednesday in the eastern Kunar province along with three coalition service members and an Afghan civilian.
The Washington Post (http://tinyurl.com/8ow2c7k ) reports that Abdelfattah was a native of Egypt and a naturalized American citizen who came to love the United States. He was married and had two teenage sons from a previous marriage.
In addition to his work for Prince George’s County, Abdelfattah spent five years with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
His wife, Angela Ruppe, says Abdelfattah was fulfilled by the development work he was doing in Afghanistan.
Huffington Post August 10, 2012
A suicide bomber in eastern Afghanistan killed three troops, a U.S. aid worker and an Afghan interpreter on Wednesday, CNN reported.
According to the Department of Defense, the attack occurred when an insurgent detonated a suicide vest in Sarkowi, Kunar Province.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffith, 45, the senior enlisted soldier of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colo., died in the explosion. Also killed were Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y., Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., and USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah.
Several troops were also injured in the attack, but details were not released.
A 24-year Army veteran, Griffith had been deployed to Afghanistan in March after serving three tours in Iraq. He was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Kennedy joined the Army in 2000 and also received the Bronze Star. At the time of his death, he was serving on his third deployment, including two tours in Iraq.
Gray was an Air Liaison Officer and flight commander attached to Fort Carson through the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. Although commissioned as an officer in 1997, he was previously an enlisted Airman and one of the Air Force’s first career Air Liaison Officers.
Abdelfattah recently began his second voluntary tour in Afghanistan to continue supporting the country’s stability and long-term development.
“With the work of people such as Ragaei, the civilian surge we launched in Afghanistan in 2009 has made a tremendous impact, strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government and laying a foundation for long-term sustainable development. Though we are shocked and saddened by this loss and will miss Ragaei, our efforts will continue,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Information about the slain interpreter was not available.
Associated Press at Sacbee August 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says a U.S. government aid worker was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned Wednesday’s attack by two men wearing suicide vests in the eastern Kunar province.
Clinton’s statement said USAID foreign service officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, three coalition service members and an Afghan civilian were killed. A State Department diplomat was injured.
Posted : Friday Jun 29, 2012 13:05:27 EDT
Volatile security conditions have forced the State Department to continue to employ a large number of contractors to protect personnel in Iraq after the shift from a military to civilian-led mission, several senior federal officials told a House committee Thursday.
“It is accurate our personnel have security concerns,” said Mara Rudman, U.S Agency for International Development assistant administrator for the bureau for the Middle East. Rudman spoke at a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s national security subcommittee. “The security environment in Iraq is improving but is still not a normal security environment.”
The last American troops left Iraq in December, but the U.S. maintains a large presence in the country.
There are 16,000 personnel in Iraq employed by the State Department and other agencies, said Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management in the State Department. About 14,000 are contractors from the U.S. or other countries who take part in daily missions such as security for personnel and air transport of supplies and people in need of medical care.
About 6,500 of those 14,000 contractors are responsible for the security of American personnel in Iraq, Kennedy said. The high number is needed because of the still-volatile security situation in Iraq.
Washington Post with Bloomberg May 21, 2012
American contractors risk losing business under a U.S. plan to double the share of international aid awards given to overseas entrepreneurs and governments.
The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded $2.12 billion, or 15 percent, of its foreign assistance budget to the overseas groups last fiscal year, compared with $1.94 billion, or 12 percent, in fiscal 2010. The agency has set a goal of spending 30 percent of that aid on such entities by 2015.
The shift may reduce awards to U.S.-based contractors, which received 59 percent of USAID’s $14.5 billion in foreign assistance spending in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The remaining 26 percent went to other institutions, including universities and vocational schools.
Rajiv Shah, the agency’s administrator, says boosting direct investment in developing countries will save money and strengthen foreign institutions. “We became far too reliant on contractors,’’ he said in a March 7 speech.
The agency wants to work with local entrepreneurs and developing countries’ governments “instead of costlier Western consultants and contractors,’’ Shah said.
Syrian government forces continue to attack opposition forces, civilians, and aid volunteers, preventing the international community from getting emergency aid to the Syrian people, USAID has detailed in a series of internal reports obtained by The Cable.
In its latest “humanitarian update,” written at the end of April, USAID reported in detail the extensive attacks perpetrated by Syrian Arab Republic Government (SARG) troops, despite an ongoing U.N. monitoring mission and in direct violation of the “cease-fire” there. The USAID report, marked “sensitive but unclassified,” sourced its findings to U.N. representatives in Syria as well as representatives of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), and other aid groups on the ground.
“U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan expressed concerns regarding reports of SARG reprisal attacks in areas where Syrian civilians met with U.N. observers, including in Hamah and Damascus governorates,” the report stated. “The observers report that SARG forces have not withdrawn heavy weapons from urban centers — a condition of the U.N. and Arab League supported ceasefire and peace plan that went into effect on April 12.”
Although the U.N. Security Council has authorized the deployment of 300 monitors, the report could only confirm that “at least 11” U.N. monitors had arrived in Syria as of April 24. (Additional monitors have reportedly arrived since then.)
Associated Press March 18, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan government is giving companies extensions ranging from a few weeks to 90 days to change from private security guards to a government-run force, officials said Sunday.
The reprieve comes just three days before the March 21 deadline that the Afghan government had set for the majority of companies to start using government-provided security.
Private development companies have said the move is threatening billions in U.S. aid to the country because companies would delay projects or leave altogether because they didn’t feel safe using strictly local security over whose training and procedures they have little control.
President Hamid Karzai has railed for years against the large number of guns-for-hire in Afghanistan, saying private security companies skirt the law and risk becoming militias.
It’s been part of Karzai’s larger push for more control over the way his international allies operate in Afghanistan, as seen most recently in his call for NATO troops to pull back from village outposts and to hand over security responsibilities to Afghans more quickly.
Karzai said in 2009 that he wanted private security firms abolished and eventually set the March deadline for all companies except military or diplomatic facilities to use government guards. The ban would effectively end the wide-scale presence of foreigners acting as security contractors, an industry that boomed after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The New York Times March 11, 2012
WASHINGTON — The management at a company that does aid and development work for the American government knows that some of its employees in Afghanistan are keeping weapons in their rooms — and is choosing to look the other way. At another company in the same business, lawyers are examining whether the company can sue the United States Agency for International Development for material breach of contract, citing the deteriorating security in Afghanistan
An Afghan government plan to abolish private security companies at the end of this month, along with the outbreak of anti-American demonstrations and attacks in the past month, has left the private groups that carry out most of the American-financed development work in Afghanistan scrambling to sort out their operations, imperiling billions of dollars in projects, officials say.
That, in turn, threatens a vital part of the Obama administration’s plans for Afghanistan, which envision a continuing development mission after the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014.
The main U.S. foreign aid agency is preparing to switch from private security contractors in Afghanistan to Afghan government-provided security this month under a new policy mandated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, raising concern in Washington that this could put U.S. civilians at greater risk.
U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah says the agency may be able to negotiate waivers from the policy for some major infrastructure projects so that they could continue to have access to private security.
But U.S. AID officials also said this week that only 25 percent of U.S.-funded development projects in Afghanistan require security guards, suggesting the changeover to Afghan government-provided security this month that Karzai has ordered may not be so dramatic.
“Seventy-five percent of our assistance portfolio does not require private security contractors today. So a lot of our partners, and a lot of the way we are doing business is not affected by this at all,” Alex Thier, Shah’s assistant for Afghanistan and Pakistan programs, said in an interview.
Private security contractors working for foreign companies, who have numbered in the thousands, are no longer allowed on aid and development programs after March 20 under Karzai’s decree. If these programs want armed escorts or guards for their compounds, they are supposed to contract with a branch of the Afghan police, the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF).
Karzai has long been critical of private contractors and other “parallel institutions” in Afghanistan and wants them under the control of the Afghan government.
Yet it’s far from clear that the Afghan Public Protection force can provide the same level of security.
Defpro News March 8, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan | The Afghan Public Protection Force signed its first contracts for security service today with three companies, marking an important milestone in the ongoing transition from Private Security Companies to the APPF.
The Minister of Interior, Bismullah Khan Mohammedi, presided over the ceremony and thanked APPF leadership, the NATO International Security Assistance Force, and the U.S. Agency for International Development for their support in executing the transition to APPF-led security services.
“From this day on, the responsibility for security services will transition from private security companies to the APPF, one after the other,” said Minister Mohammedi.
APPF Deputy Minister Jemal Abdul Naser Sidiqi signed three contracts with International Relief and Development (IRD), one with Louis Berger – Black and Veatch, and another with AFGS. IRD and Louis Berger – Black and Veatch are both USAID implementing partners performing development projects around Afghanistan.
“We welcome this security transition as a natural step for Afghanistan,” said Bill Haight, representing the Louis Berger – Black and Veatch joint venture.
In August 2010, President Hamid Karzai ordered private security companies to be disbanded, and the APPF was identified to take over security responsibility from these companies. The APPF is focusing now on taking over security responsibility for development projects, convoys and commercial businesses. By March 2013, all security for ISAF bases and construction sites is scheduled to transition to the APPF
Update: An Albanian soldier was killed, and three other troops were injured, including two Albanians and an American, according to the provincial government in Kandahar, where the shooting took place.
Winnipeg Free Press February 20, 2012
TIRANA, Albania – Suspected Afghan police opened fire on Albanian and other foreign troops in the war-wracked country’s south Monday, killing two Albanian soldiers and prompting the arrest of 11 Afghan policemen, authorities said.
The deaths were the first for Albanian troops in Afghanistan. Another international soldier was wounded.
The shootings appeared to be the latest in a growing number of attacks by Afghan police or army soldiers on foreign forces, a trend that has raised concerns about the vetting of Afghan recruits and threatened the international military commitment to the country. Last month, France suspended its training program and warned it may withdraw its forces a year ahead of schedule after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French soldiers.
Monday’s shooting occurred in the village of Robat, in the southern district of Spin Boldak near the Pakistani border, Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq said. The troops were accompanying a USAID team for a meeting about opening two schools and a health cente, Albania’s defence ministry said.
AP IMPACT by Desmond Butler Associated Press February 12, 2012
Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.
The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.
The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.
Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.
The prosecution could hardly have been better designed to provoke an American backlash. Although the charges against the 19 Americans are part of a broader crackdown on as many as nine nonprofit groups here, its most prominent targets are two American-financed groups with close ties to the Congressional leadership, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. Both are chartered to promote democracy abroad with nonpartisan training and election monitoring.
The New York TImes February 5, 2012
CAIRO — Egypt’s military-led government said Sunday that it would put 19 Americans and two dozen others on trial in a politically charged criminal investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has shaken the 30-year alliance between the United States and Egypt.
The decision raises tensions between the two allies to a new peak at a decisive moment in Egypt’s political transition after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. Angry protesters are battling security forces in the streets of the capital and other major cities. The economy is in urgent need of billions of dollars in foreign aid. And the military rulers are in the final stages of negotiations with the Islamists who dominate the new Parliament over the terms of a transfer of power that could set the country’s course for decades.
MinnPost.com January 26, 2012
A kidnapped American aid contractor is alive and in good health, being held by a Pakistani Al Qaeda affiliate that’s likely to use him as a bargaining chip, according to militants, security officials, and analysts.
Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, is in the custody of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants in North Waziristan, a ranking Pakistani militant told McClatchy. The militant said he’d seen Mr. Weinstein last month and at that point “his health was fine.”
“He is being provided all available medical treatment, including regular checkups by a doctor and the medicines prescribed for him before he was plucked,” the militant, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said last week in an interview.
Weinstein, who’s from Rockville, Md., spent several years as the Pakistan country manager for J.E. Austin Associates, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development. Reportedly in ill health, he’d packed his bags and was within hours of leaving Pakistan for good on Aug. 13 when militants kidnapped him from his home in the affluent suburb of Model Town.
Free Speech Radio News December 28, 2011
More than 2, 500 people have been released from prison in Cuba, after a mass pardoning by the federal government
An upcoming visit by the Pope was among the reasons for the release.
Several foreign prisoners were included in the release, but US contractor Alan Gross was not among them.
Gross is serving a 15 year prison sentence, after being convicted of crimes against the Cuban government earlier this year.
A contractor for USAID, Gross was arrested for bringing communications equipment into the country without a permit and has now been detained in Cuba for more than 2 years.
His imprisonment is at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Washington and Havana.
Human rights organizations have criticized the Cuban government’s prison policies, the regime currently imprisons an estimated 70 to 80 thousand people
Kabul: Three UN employees were killed on Monday along with three others when a Taliban truck full of explosives was detonated near a compound housing UN offices in Afghanistan’s Kandahar city.
Two Afghan civilians and a policeman were also killed in the early morning attack that also involved gunmen, Xinhua reported.
The terror attack “resulted in the death of three UNHCR employees at our compound and the wounding of two other staff members”, said a statement issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kabul.Though the statement did not disclose the nationalities of the victims, a police official told Xinhua all three were Afghans. The Kandahar administration said one of the wounded men was a Nepali who was the security guard of the UNHCR office.
KGO Newstalk October 31, 2011
(KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN) – The regional office of IRD, a USAID subcontractor, was targeted Monday morning in what’s being called a major attack; a suicide attacker driving a pickup truck began the attack, severely damaging the building. The explosion was followed by small arms fire.
According to Kandahar governor’s media office, the attackers took position inside a veterinary clinic in the area and continued to fire on security forces.This was described as a major attack because it targeted both the UN and the USAID contractor in Kandahar city.
foreigners were targeted, none were killed. However, this attack does mark the second major attack on foreigners in Afghanistan in three days. According to UN, US and Afghan police officials, the UN building suffered severe damage from the truck bomb, and four civilians and one policeman were killed. Four individuals were injured, including one Nepalese guard at the UNHCR guesthouse.