A deadly attack on American and Afghan civilians would be a catastrophe not only for the United States, but also for the Taliban, who are preparing to consolidate their control over Kabul. The Taliban and the Islamic State have been enemies, fighting on the battlefield for control of parts of the country.
Understanding the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid the unrest following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as leaders.
Western counterterrorism analysts say that a high-profile ISIS attack during the evacuation would most likely increase the group’s fortunes, recruitment and prestige.
A United Nations report in June assessed that “Islamic State’s territorial losses have affected the group’s ability to recruit and generate new funding.”
Although the ISIS affiliate is believed to still have between 1,500 and 2,200 fighters in small areas of Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, the report states that “it has been forced to decentralize and is made up mostly of cells. and small groups across the country, acting autonomously. while sharing the same ideology.
While the group suffered military setbacks from the summer of 2018, the report concluded that since June 2020, under its ambitious new leader, Shahab al-Muhajir, the subsidiary “remains active and dangerous” and seeks to increase its size. ranks with disgruntled Taliban fighters. and other activists.
“Since ISIS-K and the Taliban are enemies, this will be a challenge for ISIS-K,” Mr. Clarke said. “Nonetheless, the Taliban now have their hands full to rule, which will consume considerable bandwidth within the organization.”
Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator in the Trump administration, said on Sunday that if the ISIS affiliate was able to attack Kabul airport, “it suggests that the Afghanistan after the US withdrawal will be a permissive environment for all kinds of terrorist groups, even those hostile to the Taliban.