Welcome to my Kabul-based crime blog. I will post analyses of real life crimes that highlight the connections between crime and politics in Afghanistan. I will also link to articles that shine a light on the dark side of life in the Afghan capital.

In addition to this I will also review both contemporary and vintage crime fiction mostly revolving around random books I am able to buy or find. As ever I welcome your comments and analysis.

DTK Molise.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Suspicious Activity - Reconnaissance for Future Attacks?

KABUL CITY, October 2010.  Two men were observed acting in a suspicious manner in an area surrounding a supermarket and restaurant popular with internationals and wealthy Kabulis in Wazir Akbar Khan.  The two men appeared to be conducting reconnaissance of the area around the two businesses, though the behaviour and dress of the two men made them stand out.  The men were seen exiting the supermarket with a bag of meat at 1220.  From there, the men walked to a Toyota Corolla and deposited the meat in the vehicle.  The men then spent approximately 20 minutes walking around the immediate area, in a manner that suggested they were mapping the side streets.  At 1240, the men entered the restaurant, though they were not seen to place an order for food.  At 1300, the men returned to the Toyota.  One of the men took the bag of meat and handed it to a female Afghan and then the men left the area in an unknown direction.  

In a separate incident two men were observed acting suspiciously in the area of a popular international hotel in the central Shar-E-Now district.  A blue Toyota Corolla with a driver and one passenger pulled into traffic behind a Private Security Company (PSC) Toyota Land Cruiser.  The passenger in the Corolla immediately pointed a video camera towards the Land Cruiser and appeared to be filming the vehicle.  The passenger put his video camera away when he realised that he had been seen by the PSC personnel in the Land Cruiser.  The driver of the blue Corolla took the next available turning in an apparent attempt to get away from the PSC vehicle.   It is likely that the men were conducting a form of crude surveillance against the PSC vehicle, possibly attempting to identify the way PSC personnel operate in the city.

According to international analysts these activities are to be regarded as being particularly suspicious given the recent increase in reporting regarding insurgents intent to carry out a VBIED or SVEST attacks in Kabul City Centre.  During October there has been an increased amount of suspicious activity reported, particularly in areas heavily frequented by foreigners.   

Monday, 8 November 2010

Afghan Book Review on Pulp Curry

Andrew Nette, an Australian crime writer, who blogs at the excellent Pulp Curry website asked me to review a couple of crime fiction books set in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately I couldn't seem to find any that were suitable so instead I ended up reviewing two Afghan-set action thrillers: A Hostile Place by John Fullerton and The Network by Jason Elliot.  

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Beginnings of Progress, Chinese Style?

The Western media is notoriously focused on highlighting death and destruction in Afghanistan.  Whether it is reporting the latest military casualty figures or the latest suicide attack in an urban area violence, murder and terrorism is never far from the surface.  One area that gets very little focus is the role of China, that great, silent power, in a region that they border.

It would seem that China have very little involvement in the wars of the Western Democracies but if you scratch the surface there they are...involved, working, silently building their connections through trade, business deals, and most crucially infrastructure development. China does not tend to do diplomacy through the media and moral pronouncements.  This has been noted before with regards to its continued involvement in pariah states like Sudan.  However the same is true of their involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Silently the Chinese go about their business, courting favour with the leaders of Af-Pak.  Islamabad is full of Chinese restaurants where beer is freely sold, something similar is also happening in Kabul.  In the northern areas of Pakistan, around Gilgit, Chinese engineers wander around fixing and maintaining the wondrous Karakoram Highway.
Recently we have seen another example of this growing influence in Afghanistan.  On the 22nd of September The GIRoA and China Metallurgical Corporation Group formally signed an agreement to construct a railway corridor in Afghanistan.   The corridor will extend from Aynak Copper Mine in Lowgar Province to the eastern Torkham border town in Nangarhar and Hairatan border town in the northern Balkh Province.  A specialised company will conduct an extensive survey and study process, which is expected to take upwards of two years, prior to the commencement of any construction.

So whilst the USA and UK continue to fight insurgents, and carry out pointless impact assessments for crop irrigation and the like, the Chinese are going about building transportation links to the central areas of Afghanistan that are known to contain numerous minerals and metals.  It is debatable whether this project will go ahead due to the increasing insurgency in the areas that this survey will take place but you have to give the Chinese credit...they certainly know how to the play the game of currying favour with their strategic neighbours.