ISIS Poses a Growing Threat to New Taliban Government in Afghanistan

1 month ago 55

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Aref Mohammad’s warfare against the Islamic State ended earlier this autumn erstwhile his portion of Taliban fighters was ambushed by the violent radical successful eastbound Afghanistan. A slug shattered his femur, leaving him disabled and hardly capable to walk, nevermind fight.

But for the Taliban question helium served under, present the authorities of Afghanistan, the warfare against the Islamic State was conscionable beginning.

“If we knew wherever they were from, we would prosecute them and destruct them,” Mr. Mohammed, 19, said from his infirmary furniture successful Jalalabad, the superior of Afghanistan’s eastbound Nangarhar Province wherever the Islamic State has maintained a beingness since 2015.

In the 2 months since the Taliban took power of the country, the Islamic State affiliate successful Afghanistan — known arsenic Islamic State Khorasan oregon ISIS-K — has stepped up attacks crossed the country, straining the caller and untested authorities and raising alarm bells successful the West astir the imaginable resurgence of a radical that could yet airs an planetary threat.

The attacks person been aimed mostly astatine Taliban units similar Mr. Mohammad’s, and astatine Afghanistan’s Shiite minorities. Suicide bombings successful Kabul, the capital, and successful important cities including Kunduz successful the northbound and Kandahar successful the Taliban’s confederate heartland person killed astatine slightest 90 radical and wounding hundreds of others successful the span of conscionable respective weeks. And connected Tuesday, Islamic State fighters carried retired a coordinated attack with gunmen and astatine slightest 1 termination bomber connected an important subject infirmary successful the capital, sidesplitting astatine slightest 25 people.

This has placed the Taliban successful a precarious position: After spending 20 years warring arsenic an insurgency, the radical finds itself wrestling with providing information and delivering connected its hallmark committedness of instrumentality and order. This has proved particularly challenging for the Taliban arsenic they effort to support themselves and civilians successful crowded cities against astir regular attacks with an service that was trained for agrarian guerrilla warfare.


Aref Mohammad, a 19-year-old Taliban fighter, successful  a infirmary  successful  Jalalabad past  period  aft  being wounded successful  an ISIS-K attack.


The surge successful attacks has fueled increasing unease among Western officials, with immoderate predicting that the Islamic State — often considered a determination menace — could summation the capableness to onslaught planetary targets successful a substance of six to 12 months.

Colin Kahl, U.S. nether caput of defence for policy, told lawmakers past week that the Taliban’s quality to prosecute the radical “is to beryllium determined.”

Mr. Kahl’s sentiments underline the halfway interest of Western quality communities: There is small mode to measurement the Taliban’s effectiveness against ISIS-K. There is nary longer reliable entree to quality arsenic constricted drone flights supply piecemeal accusation fixed the region they person to alert conscionable to get to Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials, and the established web of informants has collapsed.

The Taliban, who person refused to cooperate with the United States successful countering the Islamic State, alternatively are warring the warfare connected their ain terms, with tactics and strategies that look acold much localized than a authorities run against a violent organization.

“The Taliban became accustomed to warring arsenic insurgents, relying connected a scope of asymmetric attacks to people Afghan and U.S. forces,” said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism expert astatine the Soufan Group, a information consulting steadfast based successful New York. “But it seems wide that the Taliban has not fixed overmuch thought astatine each to however the equation changes arsenic a antagonistic insurgent, which is efficaciously the relation they are playing present against the Islamic State.”

But wherever the Taliban person changed their strategy to combat against the Islamic State — once moving unneurotic with the Americans and the erstwhile authorities to incorporate the violent radical successful the eastbound — is connected the diplomatic stage.



As the Taliban question planetary recognition, the radical has utilized the resurgence of the violent radical arsenic a bargaining spot for much fiscal aid, according to Qatari officials, reminding different countries that a almighty Islamic State poses a menace to them arsenic well.

Recognizing the imaginable menace on its shared borderline with Afghanistan, Pakistan is feeding immoderate quality to the Taliban astir the Islamic State, according to U.S. officials.

Dr. Basir, the caput of the Taliban’s quality limb successful Jalalabad who lone goes by 1 name, is 1 of the group’s leaders adapting to warring a warfare helium was erstwhile connected the different broadside of arsenic a Taliban insurgent. He is present liable for defending and securing a metropolis of respective 100 1000 people.

In the past respective years, Jalalabad has been an casual people for the Islamic State, which has dispatched cells of fighters into the metropolis from surrounding districts, carrying retired assassinations and bombings astatine will.

But the radical has taken vantage of the weeks during which the caller authorities was coming unneurotic and has drastically widened its reach.



Between Sept. 18 and Oct. 28, the Islamic State has carried retired astatine slightest 54 attacks successful Afghanistan — including termination bombings, assassinations and ambushes connected information checkpoints, according to an investigation by ExTrac, a backstage steadfast that monitors militant unit successful struggle zones. It amounts to 1 of the astir progressive and deadly periods for the Islamic State successful Afghanistan.

Most of those attacks person targeted Taliban information forces — a marked displacement from the archetypal 7 months of the year, erstwhile the Islamic State chiefly targeted civilians, including activists and journalists.

In countering the Islamic State, Dr. Basir said his men had adopted methods akin to the erstwhile government, adjacent relying connected instrumentality utilized by the erstwhile quality work to intercept communications and vigor postulation — tools talented by the West implicit the past 2 decades successful an effort to surveil the Taliban.

But helium insisted that the Taliban person what the past authorities and Americans did not: the wide enactment of the section population, which has been a boon for the benignant of quality quality susceptible of alerting authorities of attacks and combatant locations that had ever been hard to get successful the past.



That level of spot and practice could wane, information analysts say, arsenic determination is expanding fearfulness that the Taliban could usage the ISIS-K menace arsenic an excuse to transportation retired with impunity state-sponsored unit connected definite segments of the population, specified arsenic members of the erstwhile government.

“There’s besides a spot of a hubris and overconfidence due to the fact that they deliberation ISKP has specified constricted entreaty successful state — that, according to the Taliban, it is truthful beyond the airy that it volition ne'er person that wide entreaty truthful they deliberation they tin spend to disregard the threat,” said Ibraheem Bahiss, an International Crisis Group advisor and an autarkic probe analyst.

Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan

Card 1 of 6

Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.

In 2015, the Islamic State successful Khorasan was officially established successful Afghanistan’s eastbound by erstwhile members of the Pakistani Taliban. The group’s ideology took clasp partially due to the fact that galore villages determination are inhabited by Salafi Muslims, the aforesaid subdivision of Sunni Islam arsenic the Islamic State. A number among the Taliban, who mostly travel the Hanafi school, Salafi fighters were anxious to articulation the caller violent group.

The gully of young fighters to the Islamic State is particularly pronounced successful Jalalabad, wherever Salafi mosques person sprung up successful increasing numbers successful caller years, providing ample recruiting grounds for the violent group.

The Taliban person made a amusement of openness to the Salafists, accepting a pledge of allegiance from immoderate Salafi clerics earlier this month. But determination is inactive wide unease wrong their community, particularly successful Jalalabad.

At 1 Salafi spiritual schoolhouse successful the city, the Taliban cracked down connected the ideology by forcing the school’s laminitis to flee. They person allowed boys to proceed their Quranic studies but person banned Salafist works from the curriculum.



For Faraidoon Momand, a erstwhile subordinate of the Afghan authorities and a section powerfulness broker successful Jalalabad, the worsening economical concern successful the state is besides driving the Islamic State’s recruitment.

“In each nine if the system is bad, radical volition bash what they person to bash to get by,” Mr. Momand said.

As dusk fell implicit Jalalabad connected a caller time successful October, a portion of Taliban fighters belonging to the quality bureau rode done the streets successful a modified Toyota pickup, a instrumentality weapon mounted successful its bed, arsenic the streets filled with commuters and evening shoppers.

The Talibs pulled up astatine cardinal intersections and checkpoints, jumping retired and assisting with the screening of cars and the ubiquitous yellowish three-wheeled rickshaws that jostle and honk arsenic they throng streets. They poked their heads in, shining flashlights inside, questioning passengers, and waved them on.

“We person a tribunal for each criminal,” said Abdullah Ghorzang, a Taliban commander. “But determination is nary tribunal for ISIS-K. They volition beryllium killed wherever they are arrested.”


Victor J. Blue reported from Jalalabad, Afghanistan; Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Doha, Qatar, and Christina Goldbaum from Kabul. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt from Washington; Safiullah Padshah from Jalalabad; and Sami Sahak from Los Angeles.

Read Entire Article