Understanding the Islamic State Offshoot behind the Kabul Bombings

Aug. 27 2021

The bombings in Kabul that took the lives of more than a dozen U.S. troops, and nearly 100 Afghans, appear to be the work of Islamic State’s “Khorasan Province” (ISKP or ISIS-K), the group’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In negotiating the current withdrawal from the country, the U.S. government has claimed that the Taliban might in fact restrain both al-Qaeda and ISKP. While ISKP and the Taliban have indeed fought in recent years, such a plan will never work, as Kyle Orton explains:

The Taliban cannot fight al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda has sworn an oath of allegiance to the Taliban’s leader, and on the battlefield they are completely intertwined. One of the most visible Taliban leaders in Kabul has been Khalil Haqqani, who is a senior operative in the Haqqani Network. This network is deeply woven into al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan and has leaders simultaneously holding senior positions in the Taliban. These organizational overlaps are reinforced by family ties. In short, there is no real-world distinction between the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

There is a distinction between the Taliban and ISKP, and indeed a venomous hatred. But what is clear from the attack at the airport is that either the Taliban was complicit—by halting an evacuation of Afghans who helped [the West]—or the Taliban was unable to stop this. In either case it is risible to suggest that the Taliban can assist in counterterrorism.

At root, the distinction between ISKP and the Taliban is [that] ISKP is a non-state actor and the Taliban is a wing of the Pakistani state. The network of jihadists that has just taken over Afghanistan—led by the Taliban and the Haqqani Network—is just the latest iteration of Pakistan’s jihad project in Afghanistan, which began no later than 1974.

It is too late to save Afghanistan, but at least it might set us—at long last—on a better policy track in dealing with Pakistan as it is: a state sponsor of terror that has killed thousands of our people and tens of thousands of Afghans.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Pakistan, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada