21:08 GMT05 July 2020
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    US military items, including uniforms, continue to be sold openly in the Afghan capital of Kabul despite a terrorist attack Wednesday in which assailants wore US-style gear.

    Hundreds of vendors reportedly operate at "Bush Bazaar," a black market in Kabul that sells everything from Meals, Ready to Eat (commonly known as MREs) to knockoff American military apparel. The market's name is derived from former US President George W Bush, who made the call to invade the country some 17 years ago in October 2001, just a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

    "Some of the uniforms and accessories seem genuine or are very good knockoffs," Stars and Stripes reported after paying the market a visit. The outlet reported that it only costs about $60 to obtain most components of a "convincing" uniform.

    Wednesday, seven militants traveling in a captured Humvee set off a suicide bomb and then open fired on the Afghan Interior Ministry. Gen. John Nicholson, the highest-level US commander in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon over a video call that guards at the building noticed that the uniforms worn by the attackers resembled older versions of those used by US soldiers.

    It isn't known for sure whether the Taliban or the local Daesh affiliate were behind the attack, although one of the assailants was captured, according to Nicholson. The Daesh affiliate, called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — Khorasan Province, claimed responsibility, but Nicholson said that the tactics were more in line with the Taliban's Haqqani network, a unit within the Taliban that is considered its most dangerous.

    "We have seen [US] uniforms used in the past," Nicholson said, noting "it's been well over a year since we've seen that." 

    Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid would not confirm whether they were responsible for the attack, but the spokesperson told Stars and Stripes that the group is "very rich when it comes to military uniforms."

    According to the Mujahid, some were easily obtained from markets, but most had fallen into their hands after insurgents raided government buildings and stores. "We don't use them much, so we have plenty," Mujahid said.

    It only took Stars and Stripes about 30 minutes to find such a uniform at Bush Bazaar, where they purchased a "used set" for $35 from a shop run by an 18-year-old and 11-year-old. Uniforms in US soldiers' present style were far easier to come by. 

    Other items that appeared to have been pilfered from the US military included "nearly every type of drink found in military dining facility coolers," Stars and Stripes reported. Boots similar to those worn by soldiers, US military- and Afghan military-style patches, and even MREs containing pork — which is forbidden in Islam — were also available for purchase.

    Officials at Resolute Support, NATO's mission in Afghanistan, were unable to say for sure how many of its shipments are lost or stolen each year. In 2012, the rate was 1 percent — about 800 truckloads worth of goods.

    However, US troops have also been caught making orders for extra goods, which they'd then sell to Afghan vendors. In April, the US military admitted in a report to having lost a whopping $154.4 million in fuel meant for the Afghan government over the years, Sputnik News reported. Corruption in the Afghan government was partially blamed in the report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, but like the other supplies, servicemembers had also stolen a good deal of the fuel themselves.


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