‘There are thousands of them hiding here.’ What’s coming soon in Afghanistan

Andrey Kots

The “Islamic State”, which was somehow forgotten against the background of the hasty evacuation of Western citizens from Afghanistan, has loudly declared itself again. It is difficult to predict the consequences of the bloody terrorist attack near the Kabul airport, but it is already obvious: the image of the United States and its coalition allies has suffered greatly. RIA Novosti understood the situation.

Last slap

Acrid smoke, machine gun fire into the air, dozens of bloody bodies under barbed wire and the bewildered faces of American marines – footage from the scene of the attack went around all the world’s media.

Not so long ago, Joe Biden, justifying the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, said that the military had fulfilled the tasks assigned to them there. He stressed that the Pentagon managed to completely eliminate the terrorist threat to US citizens.

However, the attacks at the Kabul airport showed that the president has little control over the situation. In parting, IS militants gave the White House a resounding slap in the face. Acco-rding to the latest data, m-ore than 170 people, incl-uding 13 US military perso-nnel, were killed by two ex-plosions. These are the lar-gest single casualties of the American army since 2011.

Several senators have called on Biden to step down. American journalists demand to wipe out one Afghan city for every killed soldier. And in the Pentagon they are racking their brains how to respond to the terrorists of the pseudo-caliphate in order to at least partially save face.

It came as a complete surprise to the Americans that IS feels quite at ease in Afghanistan and is conducting complex, carefully covert actions. A terrorist attack of this magnitude requires careful preparation and a well-developed agent network.

Neither reconnaissance balloons, nor combat helicopters patrolling the perimeter, nor other military high-tech helped the Kabul airport.

Dissociate from IS

The risk of new terrorist attacks remains. The American command had to turn to the new Afghan authorities with a request for help in ensuring the security of the air harbor.

Yesterday’s opponents have actually united against a common enemy. It’s no secret that the Taliban are in conflict with IS. Although both organizations are recognized as terrorist in Russia and profess radical Islam, their goals are different.

While the Taliban verbally refuses to expand to other countries, the Islamic State is in favor of a global caliphate, in which Afghanistan will become only one of the provinces.

Finally, the Taliban need international recognition, assistance in rebuilding the country and foreign investors like air. Now they are actively demonstrating “moderation”, exponentially disowning thugs from the Middle East who decapitate people and burn prisoners alive. They are definitely not on their way with IS.

All against all

The Islamic State announced the creation of Vilayat Khorasan on the territory of Afghanistan and several other countries of the region on January 10, 2015. A group of commanders of the Pakistani movement Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan led by Hafiz Said Khan took an oath of loyalty to the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The leaders of the new province of the pseudo-caliphate began to actively lure Afghan radicals over to their side, which caused a sharp rejection of the Taliban leadership. The head of the organization, Akhtar Mansur, even appealed to al-Baghdadi with a demand to stop recruiting and leave Afghanistan alone. He said nothing.

The ranks of IS were rapidly growing. By June 2015, extremists had driven the Taliban out of several districts of the eastern province of Nangarhar and entrenched in Farah and Helmand. In August, another Afghan radical organization, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was sworn in to the pseudo-caliphate. Fierce fighting broke out between the IMU and the Taliban in Zabul province. By November, the terrorists had been defeated, knocking them out of Farah along the way.

In 2016, IS was beaten in Nangarhar. The extremists were caught between a rock and a hard place – on the one side they were pressed by the Taliban, on the other – by the Afghan Security Forces. In addition, US Air Force airstrikes were launched against the targets of the pseudo-caliphate. So, on April 13, 2017, an American plane dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb GBU43 / B MOAB onto a complex of underground tunnels in the Achin region, destroying more than 36 terrorists. The Pentagon beheaded Vilayat Khorasan four times in two years, killing four emirs. But IS was never completely defeated.

Terror tactics

The Islamists changed the format and started creating sleeping cells in different provinces. In 2020, the UN estimated their number at one and a half to two thousand people. The militants have carried out dozens of terrorist attacks – against the Taliban, military personnel of the Western coalition, and civilians. Fanatics were especially brutal in dealing with infidels. Until last Friday, the most terrible terrorist attack in Afghanistan carried out by IS was a suicide bombing at a wedding in Kabul on August 18, 2019. At that time, mainly Shiites died – 92 people. Another 142 were injured of varying severity.

Another method of terrorist attacks by Islamists is the execution of people, usually unarmed, in public places. In March 2020, gunmen broke into the Sikh community in Kabul and opened fire on worshipers. Several dozen people were killed. In May, an explosion and gunfire in Nangarhar province killed at least 24 Afghans. And on August 2 of the same year, extremists attacked a prison in Jalalabad, killing 29 people and releasing hundreds of criminals.

The militants were arrested, destroyed, driven underground. But IS in Afghanistan has reminded of itself over and over again. The latest terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport are a statement that Vilayat Khorasan is alive and ready to fight for power and influence with the newly formed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The country, quite possibly, is facing a new big war, and it is not known who will emerge victorious.

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