Afghan who killed U.S. general had no known Taliban ties, probe finds

Afghan who killed U.S. general had no known Taliban ties, probe finds
The body of Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene arrives at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Aug. 7. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

A rogue Afghan policeman who shot and killed an American two-star general in Afghanistan in August had no known links to insurgents and apparently took advantage of an unplanned opportunity to kill American and coalition officers, a military investigation has concluded.

The policeman, identified only as Rafiqullah, killed Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene and wounded 18 other coalition and Afghan soldiers, including a German general, during a so-called insider attack during an Aug. 5 briefing at an Afghan military training center in Kabul.


Greene is the highest-ranking American officer killed in an overseas combat zone since the Vietnam War.

The investigation by the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan concluded that Rafiqullah was not part of any planned insurgent plot. It said he happened to encounter a team of high-ranking military officers as he returned from a security patrol.

"It may be that the shooter was self-radicalized, or that he suffered from some sort of psychological condition," according to the investigative report released Thursday. The shooting "was not premeditated, and the shooter simply took advantage [of] a target of opportunity provided by the close gathering."

The report added: "The subsequent investigation did not identify any clear links between Rafiqullah and the Taliban or other extremist groups. Although there have been many leads, nothing has yet materialized that conclusively links the shooter to any plots, plans or persons of interest."

Greene and other Western and Afghan officers were on a briefing tour of Marshal Fahim National Defense University when they made an unscheduled stop behind a military police barracks. Rafiqullah made his way to a bathroom window inside the barracks and fired up to 30 shots from a U.S.-issued M-16 rifle, targeting 58 people gathered outside, the report said.

The shooter was shot and killed by two coalition soldiers providing security for the officers.

The investigation concluded that appropriate security precautions were taken for the visit, and it found no negligence on the part of the event planners or officers who took part in the visit.

"This incident could not have been reasonably foreseen or prevented, appearing as an isolated act of a determined shooter without indicators or warnings," the report said.

The report praised the actions of the security team protecting the officers, calling the soldiers' response to the attack and their first-aid assistance "superb."

Over the years, U.S. and coalition forces have been killed or wounded by insider attacks, known in the military as "green on blue" assaults, at the hands of their nominal Afghan security force allies. The attacks reached a peak in 2012, when 64 coalition troops were killed and 102 wounded in 48 assaults.

In 2013, the number dropped sharply to 15 attacks that killed 17 and wounded 39.  The Pentagon has attributed the decrease to improved security efforts and training, including the use of armed "guardian angels" who protect coalition troops whenever they are near Afghan security forces.

There have been seven insider attacks in 2014, including the attack on Greene. Four coalition troops have died and 23 have been wounded, according to Capt. Frank Hartnett, a coalition public affairs officer in Kabul.

Greene, 55, was the deputy commander of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan. He is survived by a wife and two children.

Twitter: @davidzucchino