Officials would later learn that the quiet, willowy boy was also working for the insurgency.
As U.S. troops depart from Afghanistan, American military strategy increasingly hinges on small teams of advisers who live and work with Afghan soldiers and police officers. But those teams — like the one that Aynoddin attacked last week — put themselves at the mercy of often-shoddy Afghan security standards, which permit individuals to live on shared bases without proper scrutiny.
There have been 28 so-called “insider attacks” this year, resulting in the deaths of 39 coalition troops — a full 13 percent of those killed in Afghanistan in 2012. Among the dead are 23 Americans. The attacks continued Friday, when an Afghan Local Police officer shot and killed two U.S. troops during a training exercise in the western province of Farah.
NATO officials have long claimed that the majority of such attacks are the products of personal disputes. But last week’s shooting was believed to have come from a different, more troubling source: a young Taliban convert who exploited his access to carry out what insurgent leader Mohammad Omar boasted Thursday is a deliberate plan to drive a wedge between foreign and Afghan forces.
Aynoddin should never have been on the base in the first place, because Afghan and U.S. security standards would not have allowed it. But those standards are often violated — especially by the country’s nascent police force.
“We have to have better leadership out of our Afghan leaders. There are some things they need to step up to the plate and do now better than they’ve done,” said Marine Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, the top U.S. commander in southwestern Afghanistan. “They need to be looking in the eyes of their subordinate commanders and holding them accountable for these people who are in and out of police stations.”
Aynoddin, who, like many Afghans, uses only one name, was in high school when he started work for Garmsir’s police chief, Sarwar Jan, in the southern province of Helmand. He spent his days cooking for Jan and cleaning up after him. Both Afghans and Americans knew him as the boss’s “tea boy.”
At 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 10,, three weeks after he arrived at a joint U.S.-Afghan base called Delhi, the boy stole a Kalashnikov rifle that was lying in an unlocked barracks, according to police officers on the base. He walked to a gym where four unarmed Marines were exercising and held down the trigger until no bullets were left. When he was finished, three Marines were dead and one was badly injured.