Fears rising over Taliban infiltrating Afghan police, army

Afghan soldier

The Afghan police and military are scrambling to find ways to root out insurgents lurking within their ranks.

Screening of new recruits and soldiers has been intensified following fears over Taliban infiltration in the Afghan national security forces.

Insurgents dressed in Afghan military uniforms attacked three heavily secured government locations earlier this week.

The latest attack came Monday on the Defense Ministry's headquarters in downtown Kabul and killed two Afghan soldiers.

According to the New York Times, the attacks have caused concern among Afghan officials, who are uneasy about their own safety and the fate of a country whose military and police forces they worry might be infused with enemy insurgents.

Some Senate members on Wednesday called for the resignation of the Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, calling him incapable of defending his own ministry, much less the country.

Intelligence officials have gathered no evidence to suggest that infiltration is widespread, as the Taliban claims, according to the officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of their positions advising Afghan forces.

Nonetheless, officials know that Taliban claims of infiltration breed distrust and are hard to disprove.

"Their goal is to separate the coalition from the Afghan National Army, and this is a great tool for them, whether they've done it or not," one of the officers said.

Infiltration or not, the recent attacks have exposed other security concerns, including the rigor of identification checks and body searches at checkpoints and entryways, and the easy availability of official-looking uniforms and military equipment in shops and bazaars throughout Kabul and the provinces.

Investigators are also examining whether any guards took bribes to let the insurgents through.

Concerns over sleeper agents still run high among NATO and Afghan officials.

Afghan counterintelligence agents are being actively trained to identify possible insurgents among Afghan forces and to look for signs of service members who, acting either out of financial or personal stress or because of threats to their families, might fall under Taliban influence.

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