The majority of the suspects were members of the Hezb-e-Islami, a hard-line Islamic group opposed to Karzai’s interim government. The group is headed by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Pashtun warlord known for his anti-Western beliefs.
“They were planning to explode bombs in Kabul,” Din Muhammad Jurat, director general for security at the Interior Ministry, told reporters. “They wanted to complicate conditions for the interim government. We finally decided that we had to arrest them.”
The terrorist campaign, the most serious threat to date against the interim Afghan government, included plans to detonate bombs throughout Kabul and assassinate Karzai, former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah, and other prominent Afghan figures. Afghan officials also said they found evidence that the suspects planned to attack foreigners in the country.
“They wanted to launch a coup d’etat against the government,” Mohammed Naseer, the security director at the Kabul governor’s office, said.
Naseer told reporters that he suspected the militants wanted to undermine the authority of the interim government and disrupt the Loya Jirga, the Afghan grand council scheduled to select a permanent government in June.
Interior Minister Yunus Qanooni said authorities had not yet determined the exact goal of the suspects, or all the details of their alleged plot, but confirmed only that the detainees were planing acts of “terrorism, abductions, and sabotage.”
Qanooni said police arrested more than 300 people in connection to the plot, and another 160 were being held for questioning. A Western official in Kabul told the Associated Press only ten of the detainees were linked to substantial terrorist activities.
Afghan police seized evidence such as explosives, remote control devices, and “written documents indicating that they would carry out these acts,” Qanooni said.
Officials did not say which agency made the arrests, but a spokesman for the international peacekeepers in Kabul told reporters their force was involved.