There were other reasons for concern. In August, according to the memo, Afghan security forces uncovered a “sophisticated surveillance operation against the consulate, including information about plans to breach the consulate site.” In December, four people were killed in a bombing at the Blue Mosque, less than an eighth of a mile from the prospective consulate.
The attacks and threats, Kelly wrote, “are symptomatic of a real, measurable uptick in the threat stream.” The hours-long attack in September on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from a nearby building under construction renewed concerns about the vulnerabilities of the Mazar-e Sharif site.
“The entire compound is surrounded by buildings with overwatch and there is almost no space on the compound that cannot be watched, or fired upon, from an elevated position outside the compound,” Kelly wrote.
Responding effectively to an emergency at the consulate would be next to impossible, Kelly noted, because the facility does not have space for a Black Hawk helicopter to land. It would take a military emergency response team 11/2 to 2 hours to reach the site “under good conditions,” he said.