Islamic state has deteriorated in Afghanistan but still poses a threat

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) —Tribal elder Dawlat Khan has a nightmare about a fighter from a local affiliate of the global Islamic state terrorist network that struck him and other villages in eastern Afghanistan five years ago. I still have it.

Radicals, including Afghans, Pakistanis, Arabs, and Central Asian men, immediately imposed reign of terror. They kidnapped locals who worked for the Afghan government and dropped the later decapitated corpses into public places. In one example, villagers were summoned to the headline that some were faint and some were frozen when looking in horror.

Since then, Islamic State group militants have been driven to the mountains by bombing the United States and Afghanistan and fierce ground campaigns by Afghanistan’s own armed forces, the Taliban. The Taliban are eager to expand their domestic political power and promised the Trump administration last year to prevent attacks on the west from Afghan soil after foreign troops left.

The recent success in the containment of the IS is at the heart of President Joe Biden’s calculations, which decided to withdraw all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by the summer earlier this month. Biden argues that the threat to the West, whether by IS or by the remnants of the al-Qaeda network, can be eliminated from a distance.

But in the potential turmoil of Afghanistan after the withdrawal, IS “will be able to find additional space to operate,” said Seth Jones, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Said.

Some have pointed out that it took more than three years to expel and degrade IS fighters. Most of them are Pashtuns in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghans in northeastern Nangarhar and Kunar. The retreating militants left behind mined roads and fields.

Tribal leader Khan fled the village of Pananzai with his six brothers and their families during the height of the fight against IS. Despite a family of 63 packed in nine small rooms in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, they haven’t rushed home.

“I’m worried they’ll be back,” Khan, a 12-year-old father, said of the IS fighter.

Biden said he would hold the Taliban responsible for their commitment to not tolerate the threat of terrorism from the Afghan soil to the United States or its allies. The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago after the Taliban-sponsored al-Qaeda militants launched a terrorist attack on September 11.

In recent years, the Taliban has come to see the Taliban as a cross-border, unambiguous army, according to US defense officials who spoke on condition of regulatory anonymity.

Familiar with remote mountain caves and dirt roads, the Taliban is a useful ally to IS, seen by the United States as the greatest threat emanating from Afghanistan, officials said.

In justifying the withdrawal decision, Biden said the threat of terrorism “has spread around the world” and “fixed thousands of troops to one country at the expense of billions of dollars each year. And staying focused makes little sense to me and our leaders. “

The withdrawal is underway and the final phase will begin on Saturday. By September 11, the United States has withdrawn its last 2,500 to 3,500 troops, with approximately 7,000 Allied troops from NATO following the same schedule.

However, there are concerns about the revival of the IS, especially if the Taliban and the Afghan government are unable to conclude a power sharing agreement. Peace talks within Afghanistan are at a standstill, despite the US’s rush to start.

The ongoing fighting between the Taliban and the government can cause significant casualties every day and further demoralize more than 300,000 security forces in Afghanistan, which is plagued by widespread corruption. It is unclear how the military can become a breakwater against new terrorist threats.

At the same time, the IS continues to recruit between radicalized college students and the disgruntled Taliban, a former Afghan security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

IS has also resumed a killing campaign targeting minority Shiite Muslims, many of whom are Hazara, women’s rights activists, and media workers. Last year, they alleged attacks on two educational facilities, including Kabul University, killing more than 50 students. Washington accused IS of a brutal attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul’s predominantly Hazara district last year. Infants and pregnant women were killed.

In March, seven Hazara people working at a plaster factory in the eastern city of Jalalabad were killed in an attack claimed by IS. The perpetrator tied the victim’s hand behind his back and shot each with a single bullet behind his head.

Some residents there are afraid to point their fingers at the IS, fearing they may be targeted next.

IS operatives are said to occupy the entire neighborhood near the central roundabout. According to taxi driver Saida Yang, they have infiltrated the electric rickshaw business and are using vehicles for targeted killings.

For some time, terrorist consultant Evan Kohlmann said the presence of IS in and around Afghanistan seemed “almost dead”, but the group’s activities “restarted in earnest”. It was.

“They represent a serious terrorist threat, but their tactics remain in the realm of assassination and sabotage,” he has worked with the Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation, which emerged after the FBI and the attacks on the United States. Coleman said.

“They don’t seem to be in a strong position to conquer and hold the territory,” he said.

The Taliban say they have fulfilled their promise to the United States by ordering fighters to keep non-Afghans away from their ranks and al-Qaeda to leave the area. Some analysts say they are not convinced that the Taliban are far from groups like al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, US officials have acknowledged that the withdrawal would reduce Washington’s intelligence gathering capabilities, even if IS and al-Qaeda are not in a position to attack US targets from Afghanistan.

Asfandyar Mir of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation said the United States could continue to eavesdrop on technology, but on-site intelligence gathering would be further weakened.

“The US campaign in Afghanistan is notorious for being well-informed and not good at being performed by rent-seeking actors. The cost is borne by innocent civilians in attacks and strikes. “There is,” Mir said.

“As the U.S. military withdraws and cannot provide security to potential informants, existing sources will diminish and malicious individuals will have more opportunities to deceive the United States,” he said.

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