Acts of violence need to have a political context in order for them to be officially classified as a terrorist attack, if not their just criminal.   However within a conflict or post conflict environment such as Afghanistan, the lines between the differing of categories of attacks can get so blurred that they often cease to exist. But for someone who conducts acts of violence for personal gain does that make them a terrorist or thief?

Rear of the tanker showing the neat hole from the magnetic IED
Rear of the tanker showing the neat hole from the magnetic IED

Take a look at these picture’s. They were taken on the outskirts of Jalalabad, and show a tanker that had been burnt out as the result of an explosion caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). The magnetic IED was attached to the back of the tanker, the round hole where it detonated clearly visible.

It has all the hallmarks for inclusion into the acts of terrorism category, the target being the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – the NATO derivative – that desperately needs a constant supply of fuel so it can carry out its operations. But at closer inspection a different narrative can be found, a far simpler one that involves greed and dishonesty.

The tankers journey started in the Pakistani port or Karachi, where it was filled with its lucrative load before being put in to a convoy and sent on its 1,500km trip to Kabul.

If the tanker had been full of fuel there would have been nothing left of the lorry
If the tanker had been full of fuel there would have been nothing left of the lorry

During the many stops the trucks driver decided to take advantage of the moneymaking load of diesel began to syphon it off. The result, the tanker becoming emptier and emptier as it trundled towards its destination. The driver now has a dilemma. He’s going to get in to trouble for an empty load, so he looks for someone to help him. In this instance, the help came in the form of a magnetic IED.

The result of this incident was that it was logged as a Taliban attack, a SIGACT (significant action) to use the military term, the outcome being that the driver gets to keep his illicit cash, with the bonus prize of a new truck, courtesy of Western taxpayers.

But who might the perpetrators? I can hear you ask. This is the $64m question, the one that the intelligence operators would love to know, or know and are not allowed to say.

In a country that pays it’s law enforcement members less than $200 a month, and where the unemployed will join the Taliban for $10 per day as there is no other way for them to provide for their families, there is no wonder that there are men with the necessary know-how, queuing up to do the dirty work for people who are only too quick to take advantage of their position.

Common practice tankers burning, this time in Northern Afghanistan, terrorist or thief's
Common practice tankers burning, this time in Northern Afghanistan. Terrorist or thief?

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