Afghan guards seize Iranian explosives ‘hidden in potato truck’

Border guards in southwestern Afghanistan have seized about 1,800 kg of explosives allegedly smuggled into the country from neighboring Iran in a truck. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 November 2020

Afghan guards seize Iranian explosives ‘hidden in potato truck’

  • Officials accuse Iran of “destabilizing” the region and funding and arming the Taliban
  • Figures from the US military and Afghan officials in the southwest have in the past alleged that Tehran provides arms and cash to Taliban commanders in the region

KABUL: Border guards in southwestern Afghanistan have seized about 1,800 kg of explosives allegedly smuggled into the country from neighboring Iran in a “truck laden with potatoes,” local officials told Arab News on Sunday.
The consignment was seized on Thursday in Farah, one of Afghanistan’s largest provinces, which lies near the border with Iran.
“The discovery was made by the border forces. The explosives were smuggled from Iran’s soil,” Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for Farah’s governor and head of its provincial council, said during a phone interview.
Further details on the matter are being investigated, Mohib said. Officials at the defense and interior ministries in Kabul refused to comment on the matter when contacted by Arab News.
However, Dadullah Qani, head of Farah’s provincial council, said on Saturday that the consignment comprised of “1,800 kg of explosives, hidden beneath a truck laden with potatoes.
“The explosives have been sent to the laboratory for testing,” Qani told Arab News, to determine their type, use, quality and how “sophisticated” the weapons are.
And while the source of the consignment was “unclear,” Qani accused Iran of “providing monetary support to the Taliban for destabilizing the southwestern region,” where the Afghan government is building several “power dams that will deprive Iran of water.”
Qani is the latest official to accuse Iran of funding the Taliban.
Figures from the US military and Afghan officials in the southwest have in the past alleged that Tehran provides arms and cash to Taliban commanders in the region in order to facilitate attacks against Kabul and the coalition troops stationed in the country.
Militants typically use explosives for suicide attacks or vehicle bombs in the country.
The reported seizure of explosives is the first of its kind from Iran, a regional foe of the US.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition in Kabul refused to comment on the incident when contacted by Arab News.
Iran, too, is yet to react to the news.
Hamayoun Shahidzada, a lawmaker from western Herat, which also lies near the Iran border, said: “Iran’s interest is intertwined in the region and the news about the dispatch of explosives could be part of Iran’s support of Taliban groups.
“I do not know about the discovery of the explosives, but there are some Taliban groups who are being protected by Iran,” he told Arab News.


‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told

Updated 13 min 16 sec ago

‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told

  • Lawyers fighting for Shamima Begum’s right to return to the UK to challenge the 2019 decision to revoke her citizenship said her case must be heard with the 21-year-old present
  • Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green, east London, left home to join the extremist group on February 17, 2015

LONDON: A woman stripped of her UK citizenship after joining the Daesh group in Syria may not pose an ongoing security risk to Britain, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.

Lawyers fighting for Shamima Begum’s right to return to the UK to challenge the 2019 decision to revoke her citizenship said her case must be heard with the 21-year-old present.

“What security threat Ms Begum will pose... will inevitably depend on the circumstances of her case (and) an assessment of her, of the risk — if any — that she as an individual poses on her return,” her lawyer David Pannick said.

“It cannot be assumed... that because Ms Begum traveled to Syria and because there is evidence she aligned with Daesh, it therefore follows that she constitutes a continuing threat,” he added.

Britain’s ruling Conservative government has asked the Supreme Court to decide if Begum can return to pursue an in-person appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruled in her favor in July but the interior ministry immediately appealed, insisting she remains “aligned” with the proscribed terrorist organization.

Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green, east London, left home to join the extremist group on February 17, 2015.

She claims she married a Dutch convert soon after arriving in Daesh-held territory. She was discovered, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.

Her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth. Two of her other children also died under Daesh rule.

Then-home secretary Sajid Javid annulled Begum’s British citizenship on national security grounds.

She took legal action, arguing the decision was unlawful as it had made her stateless and exposed her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.

British-born Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage. But Bangladesh’s foreign minister has said he will not consider granting her citizenship.

A lawyer for the government on Monday told the five-judge panel hearing the appeal over two days that allowing Begum to return would expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism.”

“What we submit is that those who traveled (to Syria)... pose a clear and present threat specifically on return,” James Eadie said.

But rebutting the claims, Pannick said security assessments had not advised the home secretary that the risk posed by Begum’s return was “unmanageable.”
He added Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) as well as her potential prosecution, which have been used for other people returning from Daesh territory, could be utilized.

“The court cannot assume, should not assume, that... TPIMs and criminal prosecution are inadequate to protect this country from her when she returns,” Pannick said.

Addressing the arguments that Begum posed a security threat, he added that was not a legal basis for preventing her in-person appeal.

“The requirements of procedural fairness... cannot be overridden by national security without express statutory authority,” Pannick added.