Six people were arrested after an alleged al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Afghan officials said Wednesday. Those detained, including Karzai's bodyguard, were found with suicide vests and had trained in North Waziristan.
AFP - Six people including a personal bodyguard have been arrested after an alleged Al-Qaeda plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai was foiled, the intelligence service said Wednesday.
Those detained, who also included two university lecturers and students, were found with suicide vests and had been to North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal belt for training, officials said.
They did not reveal how far advanced the plot was, but the men were arrested a week ago and were said to have carried out training for the attack last month.
The news highlights Karzai's fragile position following a string of recent assassinations of his key allies including peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani last month. Karzai's powerful brother has also been killed this year.
Officials do not believe the plot was linked to the Taliban, leaders of an insurgency targeting Karzai's government and 140,000 foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan.
"A week ago, the National Directorate of Security arrested six people in connection with a plot to assassinate President Karzai," said Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the NDS, Afghanistan's intelligence service.
"These six people were introduced and recruited to Al-Qaeda by Sayed Aqa, a religious teacher at Kabul Medical University."
Mashal added that the "dangerous and educated" group were "very close" to launching their attack and had been able to "find its way inside the palace and recruit one of president's bodyguards."
"This network had close connection with Al-Qaeda and Arabs who are in Waziristan and was receiving orders from them," he said.
Mashal said the Karzai bodyguard implicated in the attack, Muhibullah Ahmadi, came from the same village as Karzai -- Karz in the southern province of Kandahar.
News of the plot was confirmed by the Afghan interior ministry's spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui.
Aqa was in contact with an Egyptian and a Bangladeshi in North Waziristan, Mashal said, adding that all of the group except Muhibullah had visited North Waziristan a month ago.
There they were given suicide vests and received weapons training.
The group also had access to a bank account with around $150,000 in it which was used to transfer money to the Egyptian, named as Saifullah.
Karzai survived an assassination attempt in 2008 at a military parade and now only leaves the closely guarded surroundings of the presidential palace in Kabul relatively rarely.
An Afghan government official speaking anonymously to AFP said the NDS was still hunting for other people allegedly involved in the plot, including teachers, students, civil servants and a journalist.
Karzai's brother Ahmad Wali Karzai was killed by a security guard at his home in the southern city of Kandahar in July.
And senior presidential adviser Jan Mohammad was murdered less than a week later.
Afghanistan's policy for talking peace with the Taliban is currently in turmoil following the killing of Rabbani amid tensions with its neighbour Pakistan over denied allegations that it is linked to militants.
Karzai is on a visit to India, where he has signed a new strategic partnership deal with New Delhi while trying to reassure Pakistan about the alliance with Islamabad's historic foe.
"Pakistan is a twin brother, India is a great friend. The agreement that we signed yesterday with our friend will not affect our brother," Karzai said.
The NDS has charged that Rabbani was killed by a Pakistani and that the murder was planned in Pakistan.
Date created : 2011-10-05