ISIS-K in Afghanistan poses terrorist threat to Kabul evacuation
“The Taliban, the Haqqani network and Al Qaeda operate as a triumvirate, and whoever is part of the same militant network, they work together hand in hand,” said Colin P. Clarke, anti-terrorism analyst at Soufan. Group, a New York-based security consulting firm.
These three entities are inextricably linked, Mr Clarke said, and in fact have come together over the past decade, a trend that is expected to continue after the US withdrawal, especially as they are closing ranks against adversaries like ISIS-K and the growing number of resistance movements in northern Afghanistan.
On the other side of the jihadist ledger is ISIS-K. The group is one of many subsidiaries that ISIS established after invading northern Iraq from Syria in 2014, and creating a religious state or caliphate the size of Britain. A campaign led by the United States crushed the caliphate, but more than 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, and ISIS affiliates like the Sahel or the Sinai Peninsula are thriving.
But ISIS-K has never been a major force in Afghanistan, let alone globally, analysts say. The group’s ranks fell to around 1,500 to 2,000 fighters, about half of its peak levels in 2016 before US airstrikes and Afghan commando raids wreaked havoc.
As of June 2020, however, under the leadership of an ambitious new leader, Shahab al-Muhajir, the branch “remains active and dangerous” and seeks to swell its ranks with disgruntled Taliban fighters and other activists, the report concluded. of ONU.
“They haven’t been a leading affiliate of ISIS, but with the demise of the Afghan commandos and the US military, does that give them leeway? It is possible, ”said Seth G. Jones, Afghanistan specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
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.
Even though the group’s general ranks have declined in recent years, Mr Jones said, ISIS-K has maintained cells of underground fighters who have carried out terrorist attacks.