How badly are things going in Afghanistan? The top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. John Allen, told reporters it was "good news" that Afghan authorities had arrested 160 people in the last few months for plotting so-called "green-on-blue" attacks by Afghan security forces on their NATO-led international partners.
Allen was describing how the alliance and the government in Kabul have responded to a spate of deadly insider attacks. He cited "an eight-step vetting process" to screen new members of the Afghan armed forces. He said Afghan "counterintelligence elements" watch over recruiting and training centers. And he hailed "unprecedented cooperation" between NATO and Afghan authorities.
"Now, there's a good-news story here, and that is that the Afghans have arrested more than 160 individuals in the last several months that they believe could have been in the throes of planning for an attack on ISAF forces," Allen said Sunday.
International Security Assistance Force officials did not return a request for information regarding arrests in previous periods, without which it is impossible to gauge whether the figure represents an increase. And they also did not answer the question of how many of the 160 people posed serious threats in the alliance's eyes.
But a U.S. official did not dispute a reporter's contention that the figure might be read as more alarming than reassuring.
"The process is working," Allen said. "It's not perfect. Any time we have one of these it's a tragedy, but I also make sure everyone understands that every case where one of these occurs, that same day there are tens of thousands—tens of thousands of interactions between the Afghans and ISAF forces that don't go that way, and in fact, strengthen the relationships and deepen our partnership."
Allen also said that fewer than half of the perpetrators of insider attacks were "Taliban infiltraters." "So it's important to understand and be able to recognize the nature of that self-radicalization in the ranks. "
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