CIA Money for Hostage Release. It appears that Afghanistan - if news reports can be trusted - has given al Qaeda $1 million for the release of an Afghan diplomat. The ransom in total was $5 million of which $1 million came from the CIA. Abdul Khaliq Farahi was the Afghan consul general in Peshawar, Pakistan when his was kidnapped in 2008. He was released two years later after ransom was paid. Read more in "Afghanistan gave CIA money to al Qaeda for diplomat's ransom - NYT", Reuters, March 14, 2015.
Nancy Lindborg of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) writes from Kabul about the efforts of young people in Afghanistan to turn the country from one of war to one of peace. The USIP is helping in this effort. Read "Letter from Kabul: Afghans Show Hope and Grit", USIP, March 13, 2015.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) thwarted a suicide bombing plot in Kabul city recently. The members who would have conducted the attack were part of the Haqqani Network. (Khaam Press, Mar 14, 2015).
The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John Brennan, recently spoke at a panel discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. A prepared transcript of his opening remarks and the 1 1/2 hour long video of the presentation and panel discussion are available on the CIA website. Brennan mentions Afghanistan only once but as part of a number of other nations that is seeing continued focus by the CIA. He has some interesting comments on the new cyber organization within the CIA, the use of social media by terrorists and insurgents, and the technological changes that affect the intelligence gathering mission.
President Ghani is visiting Saudi Arabia for a few days. Perhaps they will chat about the benefits of Saudi-financed madrassas in Pakistan that teach Taliban . . . oh, never mind.
Children Killed in Nangarhar. A roadside explosion killed three children in eastern Nangarhar province on late Saturday afternoon. Six civilians were also injured. (Khaama Press, Mar 14, 2015).
Afghan Pictures. The Daily Beast posted some very nice pictures of Afghanistan on March 14, 2015.
ISIS along Afghan Border. Some news reports indicate that the Islamic State is expanding its reach beyond the Middle East and North Africa. Certainly Central Asian states to the north of Afghanistan are worried and seeing early signs of ISIS. Afghanistan is also observing the beginnings of ISIS affiliated groups in northern Afghanistan as well as Helmand province. To further add to the problem it appears that China is seeing Uyghurs joining the Islamic State. Many Uyghurs live in Xinjinag province - located to the east of Afghanistan where there is a short border with China. Read more in "Chinese Official: Uyghurs joining Islamic State", The Diplomat, March 12, 2015.
Educational Shura in Parwan Province. Afghan educators and Task Force Solid held an 'educational shura' to discuss ideas on how to improve education and security in Parwan. Read more in a news article by Army.mil on March 14, 2015.
Dakota Meyer and Bristol Palin. A Medal of Honor recipient, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan, is engaged to the daughter of former governor Sarah Palin. (Military Times, March 14, 2015).