Understanding the Islamic State Offshoot behind the Kabul Bombings

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

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7