What Mark Taylor could be prosecuted for

If Mark Taylor manages to get from captivity in Syria to Turkey, and then back to New Zealand – the Government nor anyone else seems to be rushing to help him come back here – he is likely to be taken into custody pending prosecutions. What he might face is yet to be determined, but there’s a variety of possibilities.

Stuff – Mark Taylor: The potential legal case facing the ‘Kiwi jihadi’ if he makes it home to New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said “Kiwi jihadi” Mark Taylor would face the full force of the law if he returned to New Zealand, so what would that look like?

Ardern made clear “it is unlawful to join and fight with a terrorist organisation as Taylor has done”, so there would certainly be legal consequences.

Is it Ardern’s call to make? Prime Ministers wouldn’t usually get involved in prosecutions, politicians are supposed to get a separation between them and the administration of the law.

If Taylor manages to make his own way to consular assistance – the closest available is in Turkey – and return to New Zealand it’s likely he will be picked up at the airport by authorities and brought to prison awaiting criminal prosecution.

That seems like a given. It would be alarming if this didn’t happen.

In 2015, police took “further security measures” after Taylor posted a YouTube video urging Islamic State followers in New Zealand to launch attacks on Anzac Day.

This week police told Stuff if a New Zealand citizen suspected of associating with a terrorist group were to return, they would be investigated under New Zealand law.

Police were working closely with domestic and international partners as part of its efforts to ensure the safety and security of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

“The circumstances of these individuals is highly complex and any investigation or possible judicial proceedings would be considered on a case by case basis. Police does not discuss matters regarding specific individuals.”

So what is Ardern giving her opinion for then?

Legal experts say Taylor’s social media and video postings would like see him charged under the Crimes Act, Terrorism Suppression Act and possibly the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act.

He would be refused bail but would avail the rights offered to every citizen in the criminal justice system and his case would likely be long and drawn out through the courts.

The prosecution would not necessarily be a slam dunk with much of the case dependent on proof.

It’s normal for just about any legal case to depend on proof.

Dr Bill Hodge from the University of Auckland law faculty…

“As I understand it, he wasn’t shooting but acting on guard duty but that in itself is routine military exercise. Even if he wasn’t shooting or beheading, he was enabling others to do those things.”

“I think he’d be faced with a maximum possible sentence of 14 years, on the outer limits.”

That must surely depend on what he is charge with.

Professor Alberto Costi​ from Victoria University, who specialises in armed conflicts and international criminal law, said it was not clear what Taylor really done but he had boasted about what he was involved in.

There were provisions in the Crimes Act for threatening to kill as well as the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity.

John Ip, senior law lecturer at the University of Auckland, said Taylor could be charged with several crimes.

War crimes were a possibility.

He cites a case from Sweden, where a former rebel was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes – more specifically, involvement in the execution of captured Syrian government soldiers.

However, it’s more likely Taylor would face prosecution under the Terrorism Suppression Act. It states any person who even joins a designated terrorist organisation, is liable on conviction to imprisonment for up to 14 years.

That’s where the 14 year maximum comes from, but that’s just one possible charge.

Another possibility under the same act, was to commit a terrorist act, punishable by up to life imprisonment, he says.

Ip and other legal experts agree, the most likely offence would likely be section 13 of the act; participating in a terrorist group, which would not require proof of specific wrongful conduct such as executing prisoners and killing civilians. The law describes the participation in a designated terrorist entity.

But Ip says there is no guiding case law on what terms like “participation” mean.

“The sections have never been used and sitting moribund since the aborted prosecution in relation to the Operation Eight raids in 2007.”

Whatever Taylor ends up being charged with it would be a test case and is likely to be challenging to both prosecute and defend.

Would it go before a jury? It could be hard to find 12 people in new Zealand who don’t think he’s an idiot who deserves to have the legal book thrown at him.

It’s possible that with untested law he gets off on a technicality.

Another possibility is some sort of charge and plea agreement. Taylor has already claimed or admitted quite a bit. He might find it simpler and less risky to cooperate and accept a moderate sentence.

Problems for Mark Taylor, and for New Zealand if he gets here

Mark Taylor created major problems for himself by joining ISIS in the war in Syria.

After finding life with ISIS ‘unbearable’ (they are largely defeated) Taylor handed himself over to Kurds in Syria, probably one of his safer options. But his problems don’t end there.

Somehow Taylor needs to cross from the Kurds into Turkey (who oppose the Kurds), get to the New Zealand Embassy in Ankara, get an emergency passport (even if he hasn’t destroyed his passport as claimed it will have expired), and pay for plane tickets back to New Zealand. He may not have much money, nor an easy way of getting any.

If Taylor does manage to get back he enters a situation with more problems.

Going by comments here and elsewhere he may just about enter a lynch mob mentality. He is likely to be arrested and held in custody, and that may be for his own safety. But he may need to be protected in prison too.

Unlike some (it seems many in Taylor’s case) I oppose capital punishment, but I expect he will be charged appropriately, and if his own claims about what he has done are true he should be sentenced to far more than the couple of years in prison he said he was expecting or hoping for. It looks to me like he has earned something like a life sentence with a long mandatory non-parole period.

If he has to spend that in isolation for his own protection then he only has himself to blame. Going to fight for ISIS is one of the more reprehensible things anyone could have done. He is lucky not to have been killed by opponents in Syria, and also by others in ISIS.

If he is lucky enough to get back safely to New Zealand I hope we are lucky enough to be fully protected from him.

‘Kiwi Jihadi’ fled ‘unbearable life’ with ISIS

New Zealand has it’s own problem with what to do about someone who got involved with ISIS in Syria. In the first instance, apparently nothing, although Mark Taylor is a New Zealand citizen so we may end up being stuck with him.

RNZ: ‘Kiwi Jihadi’ in Syria will have to find his own way out – Ardern

Nicknamed the ‘Kiwi Jihadi’, Mark Taylor told the ABC he fled the Islamic State group in December and surrendered to Kurdish forces because life had become unbearable.

In 2009, he was arrested in Pakistan for trying to gain access to Al Qaeda.

In 2010, he was deported by ASIO after he was assessed as being a security risk. Taylor had lived in Australia on and off for 25 years.

In 2015, the US government declared Taylor a global terrorist after he encouraged attacks in Australia and New Zealand and appeared in an IS propaganda video.

Taylor said he would be surprised if New Zealand did not take him back.

“If they do take me back, most probably I’ll be spending a couple of years in jail,” he said.

Is that optimism? I don’t know what he could be charged with if he comes back to New Zealand.

And he had an apology, of sorts, for his home country.

“I’m sorry for causing too much trouble and being a bit hot-headed and flamboyant in my approach… I don’t know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day it’s really something I have to live with for the rest of my life.”

Joining and fighting with a  group with a despicable war and human rights record is a bit more than “a bit hot-headed and flamboyant”.

Ms Ardern and Justice Minister Andrew Little would not be drawn on the specifics of the case at a post-cabinet press conference today but said they had warned New Zealanders of the risks.

“New Zealand has made it very clear from the outset that New Zealanders should not travel to Syria. Further, it is clear that it is unlawful to join and fight with a terrorist organisation as Mark Taylor has done.”

His actions in joining IS and travelling to Syria to fight for them has created potential for legal ramifications in New Zealand, she said.

“As with any New Zealand citizen overseas, if they wish to return to New Zealand then a journey specific emergency travel document can be issued under Section 23 of the Passports Act 1992.”

The absence of New Zealand diplomatic representation in Syria meant the ability of the government to assist any citizens there was “severely limited”, Ms Ardern said.

She said Taylor would probably have to travel to Turkey to get the documents he needed.

“We have consistently told Mark Taylor that we cannot help him obtain a travel document, he would need to make his own way to a country where New Zealand has consular representation, something that in his current situation will be difficult to do.”

Taylor only had a New Zealand citizenship and the government had an obligation not to make people stateless, she said.

More from RNZ:  Call for NZ to take ‘Kiwi jihadi’ Mark Taylor likely

New Zealand can shortly expect demands from Kurdish officials to take the imprisoned Kiwi IS fighter, Mark Taylor, off their hands.

Mr Taylor was arrested in December, and told the ABC’s Middle East correspondent Adam Harvey he had turned himself over to Kurdish forces when he realised life under Islamic State wasn’t what he had anticipated it would be.

He said his life had become unbearable, with no food or money, and that basic services had collapsed.

Life has been unbearable for many people as a result of what ISIS has done, and that he has been a part of – inluding encouraging attacks on New Zealand.

Mr Harvey told Morning Report that Kurdish authorities wanted nothing to do with the western fighters now scarpering from the terrorist group – and that includes Mr Taylor.

“They’ve expressed to us their desire, that that’s what needs to happen with these foreign fighters and the IS families, the people in the camps,” he said.

Mr Harvey said Mr Taylor also told him he had spoken with New Zealand representatives since his arrest in December.

“He said shortly after his arrest he was spoken to by New Zealand intelligence officials on the ground here.”

“I have no idea when a formal request will be made. We’ll be speaking with the Foreign Minister of Kurdistan in a couple of days so we might get some more information then.

“But I think it’s safe to say that they want Mark Taylor out of here as soon as possible. He’s just a burden to them.”

He’s likely to be a burden to New Zealand if he ends up here, but we may have no choice.

 

Citizenship confusion for ISIS bride in Syria

Shamima Begum left London as a 15 year old in 2015 to join ISIS in Syria. She was recently found in a refugee camp in Syria after (reportedly) leaving the last stronghold of ISIS. She wants to return to the UK, but her citizenship may determine where she can go – if her citizenship can be determined.

She claims she has only UK citizenship.

BBC – Shamima Begum case: I have one citizenship, says IS bride

Shamima Begum – the teenager who fled London to join Islamic State – has said she only has “one citizenship” and it was wrong for the UK to revoke it without speaking to her first.

The 19-year-old told BBC News she had hoped the UK would understand she made a “very big mistake” by joining IS.

She gave birth to a son at the weekend and now wants to return home.

It is only possible to strip someone of their UK nationality if they are eligible for citizenship elsewhere.

It is thought Ms Begum has Bangladeshi citizenship through her mother. But the Bangladesh foreign ministry said the matter had nothing to do with the country.

Ms Begum’s mother is believed to be a Bangladeshi national which means under Bangladesh law she would be too.

But Ms Begum told the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville: “I wasn’t born in Bangladesh, I’ve never seen Bangladesh and I don’t even speak Bengali properly, so how can they claim I have Bangladeshi citizenship.

“I have one citizenship… and if you take that away from me, I don’t have anything. I don’t think they are allowed to do that.

“I was hoping Britain would understand I made a mistake, a very big mistake, because I was young and naive.”

She said she changed her mind about IS after they imprisoned and tortured her Dutch husband – an armed jihadi.

Escape was impossible, she claimed: “They’d kill you if you tried.”

She added that she understood the anger about her wanting to come home.

“I understand why you don’t want to be sympathetic because of everything IS did… and claiming it’s all for the sake of Islam… it’s really not,” she said.

Her citiizenship is disputed by politicians.

Mr Javid said the power to deprive a person of citizenship was only used “in extreme circumstances”, for example, “when someone turns their back on the fundamental values and supports terror”.

“We must put the safety and security of our country first,” he added.

But shadow home secretary Diane Abbott accused him of breaching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “no-one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality”.

What is the legal situation on citizenship?

Under the 1981 British Nationality Act, a person can be deprived of their citizenship if the home secretary is satisfied it would be “conducive to the public good” and they would not become stateless as a result.

Ms Begum has the right to challenge the Home Office’s decision either by tribunal or judicial review, said former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Carlile, but would have to prove the home secretary had acted disproportionately.

He said it was a “complex issue” which “could run for a very long time through the courts”, and Ms Begum could stay where she is “for maybe two years at least”.

Lord Carlile said her baby may be entitled to British, Dutch and Bangladeshi nationality.

Is Shamima Begum entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship?

Under Bangladesh law, a UK national like Ms Begum who is born to a Bangladeshi parent is automatically a Bangladeshi citizen. That means that such a person would have dual nationality.

However, their Bangladeshi nationality and citizenship lapses when they reach the age of 21, unless they make active efforts to retain it.

So, it is Ms Begum’s age, 19, that is likely – in part – to have given Home Office lawyers and the home secretary reassurance there was a legal basis for stripping her of her UK citizenship.

Her Bangladeshi citizenship remains intact until she reaches 21, even if she has never visited the country or made active efforts to retain her citizenship.

Politics again:

Former Conservative Home Secretary Ken Clarke said refusing Britons who joined IS the right to return would be a “great boost for jihadism” as the “hundreds of foreign jihadis stuck in camps in northern Syria” would be further radicalised.

And MP Joanna Cherry, the SNP’s spokeswoman for justice and home affairs, saidthe home secretary’s actions were “more about his leadership ambitions than security issues or due process”.

Mr Javid told MPs earlier this week that more than 100 dual nationals had already lost their UK citizenship after travelling in support of terrorist groups.

In an interview with the BBC on Monday…

…Ms Begum said she never sought to be an IS “poster girl” and now simply wished to raise her child quietly in the UK.

‘Quietly’ may be difficult for her after all this publicity.

She hasn’t helped her case with comments she has made, especially justifying a terrorist attack in Manchester- see Shamima Begum: Manchester Arena bombing ‘justified’ because of Syria airstrikes, Isis teenager says

But where she ends up living looks likely be determined by lawyers.

 

Two international terrorist attacks

There have been two terrorist attacks reported over the weekend, one in Paris and the other in Indonesia.

It is very difficult to defend against small and single person attacks.

BBC – Paris knife attack: Suspect ‘French citizen born in Russia’s Chechnya’

The suspect in a deadly knife attack in central Paris on Saturday evening is a French citizen born in 1997 in Russia’s republic of Chechnya, sources say.

Named by media as Khamzat Asimov, he was on a French watch list of people who could pose a threat to national security, the sources said.

Police shot dead the attacker in the busy Opéra district after he killed a man and injured four other people.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack.

France has been on high alert following a series of attacks. More than 230 people have been killed by IS-inspired jihadists in the past three years.

Islamic terrorism has been a major problem in France.

Indonesia is predominately Muslim and has it’s own problems with terrorism – Surabaya church attacks: One family responsible, police say

A family of six, including a nine-year-old girl, were behind a wave of blasts targeting three churches in Indonesia’s second city of Surabaya, police say.

At least 13 people died in Sunday’s bombings, which the Islamic State group has claimed.

The mother and two daughters blew themselves up at one church, while the father and two sons targeted two others.

The family had recently spent time in Syria, according to the police.

The bombings are the deadliest

Police chief Tito Karnavian said the family belonged to an Indonesian IS-inspired network, Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

There has been a rise in radical Muslim activity, in part due to the influence of ISIS.

In recent years women have become increasingly active in terrorist cells in Indonesia but this would be the first time children have been used.

Indonesia had been widely praised for its sustained anti-terrorism crackdown following the 2002 Bali bombings. It has managed a seemingly successful combination of arrests and killings, alongside a de-radicalisation program that focused on changing minds and providing alternative incomes for released terrorists.

But the rise of IS overseas has invigorated the loosely constituted jihadi networks.

There has also been rising intolerance in recent years in this once tolerant, pluralist, majority-Muslim nation, which has made minority groups increasingly uncomfortable.

Terrorism is a significant problem. Terrorist attacks get a lot of media attention these day, but are responsible for a relatively small number of deaths:

Global Death Toll of Different Causes of Death - Oxfam0

https://ourworldindata.org/terrorism

There is no easy way of preventing terrorism, nor of reducing radical religious movements.

Claims of defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Iraq claims to have driven ISIS out of the country, and Russian claims to have defeated ISIS in Syria.

Reuters: Islamic State completely ‘evicted’ from Iraq, Iraqi PM says

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

The Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria, state television quoted Abadi as telling an Arab media conference in Baghdad.

Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in the coming days.

“Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi announces that Iraq’s armed forces have secured the western desert & the entire Iraq Syria border, says this marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq,” the federal government’s official account tweeted.

In a separate tweet later, Abadi said: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border. We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

New Zealand has helped with the training of Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh: Announcement of New Zealand Defence Force personnel being deployed in a non-combat training mission to Iraq

On 24 February 2015, the government announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will deploy to Iraq in a non-combat training mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Up to 143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were approved by Cabinet to deploy on a training mission, with the main body of the deployment expected to deploy in May 2015. The training of Iraqi security forces at Taji will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills so that Iraqi security forces can eventually assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes.

Extension of the Iraq Deployment

On 20 June 2016, the Government decided to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the Building Partner Capacity mission to 30 November 2018.

The Minister of Defence’s press release regarding the extension.

Rudaw: Russia declares Syria ‘completely liberated’ from ISIS

Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.

“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”

Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.

The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.

On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.

These are major victories and will have significantly reduced the power and influence of ISIS, but I doubt it will be the end of ISIS related terrorism, which may now be be one of it’s only ways of trying to continue their aims.

Charged with possessing Isis propaganda, child sex abuse videos

This sounds like someone who may have some wide ranging problems.

NZH: NZ man charged with possessing Isis propaganda, ‘terrorist’s handbook’

A 19-year-old Dannevirke man appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday after being charged with possessing terrorism propaganda.

Jordayne Evan Thomas Madams faces 10 charges of possessing objectionable material consisting of child sex abuse videos and images, and terrorism material.

He made no plea when he appeared in court and a police spokesperson said he was due to appear in court on December 7 – where he would be required to enter a plea.

According to court documents, that included a text file of The Terrorist’s Handbook, which gives instructions on how to assemble bombs and explosives, as well as Isis beheading videos.

It was also alleged Madams had videos showing Isis, a jihadist militant group predominantly operating in Syria, executing a captured soldier with a machinegun and carrying out a beheading.

The child sex abuse material involved photos and videos of preteen and teenage boys and girls in suggestive poses or taking part in sex acts, according to court documents.

No indication of whether he was a terrorism risk, or was just someone who, allegedly, was attracted to gross and illegal material.

Trump reaction to New York terror attack

The vehicle terror attack in New York has not surprisingly been used by President Trump to promote tougher immigration restrictions, but he has also tried to blame a Democrat Senator.

NBC: Trump: ‘Terrorist’ Attack, Suspect ‘Deranged,’ ISIS Stay Out of U.S.

Police said the driver of a rental truck deliberately drove onto a bike path on the west side of lower Manhattan hitting bicyclists and others before getting out of the vehicle and being shot by police, law enforcement officials and witnesses said.

At least eight people were killed and 11 injured. Saipov is hospitalized and in police custody.

A law enforcement official told WNBC that a note found in the suspect’s truck claimed that he carried out the attack for ISIS.

This is the first ISIS claimed vehicle attack in the US but not the first vehicle attack.

President Donald Trump called the murderous spree by a rental truck driver in New York City on Tuesday “another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” sent condolences to victims of what the president referred to as a “terrorist attack,” and pledged to step up extreme vetting of those seeking to enter the U.S.

Later, Trump tweeted, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

The problem here is that this attacker was already living in the US – Saipov entered the United States in 2010 on a diversity visa and had become a lawful permanent resident.

Another problem is Trump’s diversion in trying to lay some blame on a Democrat Senator for the attack – Reuters: After New York attack, Trump blasts senior Democratic senator

In Twitter posts, the Republican president linked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to a visa program under which Trump said the man suspected of Tuesday’s attack, an Uzbek immigrant, entered the United States.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer responded that Trump should stop “politicizing and dividing America” at times of national tragedy.

Trump reprised what has been his stance as a White House candidate and as president – that tougher immigration laws should be a first line of defense against terrorism.

He said the suspect entered the country through the so-called diversity visa program, which was created by Congress in 1990, to provide a path to U.S. residency for citizens from a range of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based”.

In another post, Trump cited an analyst who appeared on a Fox News Channel program, writing, “‘Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems’ said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!”

But:

Schumer helped create the program in 1990 when he was a member of the House of Representatives, but he was also a member of a group of lawmakers who crafted a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that would have done away with the program. That bill was passed by the Senate but was killed by the Republican-led House.

Schumer responded:

“Instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, (Trump) should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution, anti-terrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget.”

Sad to see a terror attack being used in political bickering.

Stopping the diversity lottery and stepping up the Extreme Vetting Program won’t address problems already in the US. The division stoked by President Trump is probably as big a risk as anything.

Can you separate Muslims from ISIS?

ChristiansKKK

Are all Muslims complicit with wars in the Middle East?

Are all Christians complicit with the KKK?

Are all Christians responsible for the terrible act done by James Alex Fields Jr. in Charlottesville?

Are all Christians Nazi sympathisers like Fields?

Are all white male Americans white supremacists? All white Americans?

Are all white males Nazi sympathisers?

Some people blame everyone who they think aren’t like them, or all of a group they don’t like.

Are all Muslims responsible for ISIS terrorist acts?

All 1.6 billion Muslims? Why not all 3.75 billion males? Or all 7.5 billion humans?

Afghan attack, and arms supply

At about the same time a huge terrorist bomb went off in Kabul a top US general has confirmed that Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban.

Newshub: Kabul in mourning after fatal bomb blast

Kabul is mourning the victims of a truck bomb that killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds amid growing public anger at the government’s failure to prevent yet another deadly attack in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Wednesday’s blast, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ripped through a traffic-clogged street packed with people on their way to school or work during the morning rush hour, causing hundreds of casualties in an instant and sending a tower of black smoke into the sky.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a televised address late on Wednesday, calling for national unity in the face of the attack, which his National Directorate for Security blamed on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, but he faces an increasingly angry public.

“For God’s sake, what is happening to this country?” said Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast.

“People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family.”

There has been no claim of responsibility but Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security blamed the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate directly integrated into the militant movement, and said it had been helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service.

The Taliban have denied involvement.

Regardless of whether the Taliban were responsible the murkiness of the perpetual civil war in Afghanistan was highlighted by this from the Washington Post: Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms

The general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan appeared to confirm Monday that Russia is sending weapons to the Taliban, an intervention that will probably further complicate the 15-year-old war here and the Kremlin’s relations with the United States.

When asked by reporters, Gen. John Nicholson did not dispute claims that the Taliban is receiving weapons and other supplies from the Russians.

“We continue to get reports of this assistance,” Nicholson said, speaking to reporters alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “We support anyone who wants to help us advance the reconciliation process, but anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw two days ago in Mazar-e Sharif is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.”

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

“Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, speaking during his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary. He added that it would have to be dealt with as such.

In the past, Nicholson has criticized Russia’s contact with the Taliban, saying that it has given “legitimacy” to a group that has undermined the elected government in Kabul.

New American: Kabul Bomb Blast Could Be Used to Justify Increase in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb hidden inside a sewage tanker truck exploded during the morning rush hour in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on May 31, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds more, and damaging nearby embassy buildings.

Some have speculated that this bomb attack might influence U.S. policy on increasing troop strength in Afghanistan.

A few days agoGovernment considering sending more troops to Afghanistan at request of US

A decision on whether to send more Kiwi troops to Afghanistan at the request of the United States will be made in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Bill English confirmed at his weekly media briefing on Monday that the US on behalf of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has asked that New Zealand send an additional two personnel – taking the total team to 12 in the region.

A 20% increase in NZ troops! Only two more, not many, but one has to wonder if Afghanistan can ever be fixed. Peace is unlikely to to be able to be imposed by outside countries.