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HomeEntertainmentFears, Uncertainty Torment West With Taliban in Cost of Afghan Safety

Fears, Uncertainty Torment West With Taliban in Cost of Afghan Safety

A yr after the final U.S. troops left Kabul, there seems to be little consensus on whether or not the world, and the West specifically, is any safer from the terrorist teams that decision Afghanistan dwelling.

One of the vital polarizing developments within the debate got here on July 31 of this yr, when a U.S. airstrike — the primary in Afghanistan since U.S. forces departed on August 30, 2021 — focused a protected home in downtown Kabul, killing al-Qaida terror group leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

U.S. officers mentioned al-Zawahiri had moved to the Afghan capital months earlier, residing in a home owned by members of the Taliban’s ruling coalition and that Taliban officers have been conscious he was there.

“America doesn’t want a everlasting troop presence on the bottom in hurt’s method to stay vigilant in opposition to terrorism threats or to take away the world’s most wished terrorist from the battlefield,” White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in a memo issued Monday.

A not too long ago declassified U.S. intelligence evaluation additionally downplays the menace from al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida specifically “doesn’t have a functionality to launch assaults in opposition to the U.S. or its pursuits overseas from Afghanistan,” in keeping with the evaluation, which added that the group “has not reconstituted its presence in Afghanistan because the U.S. departure in August 2021.”

However there are skeptics of the view that al-Qaida has been diminished, together with some U.S. lawmakers and former U.S. army and intelligence officers, who argue al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul ought to renew fears that the Taliban would fail to stick to guarantees codified within the 2020 Doha settlement with the USA, together with severing ties with al-Qaida.

And it’s not only a doubtlessly resurgent al-Qaida that has raised considerations amongst counterterrorism companies around the globe.

A U.N. report issued final month warned the Islamic State terror group affiliate in Afghanistan was increasing, and that IS core management now “views Afghanistan as a base for growth within the wider area for the conclusion of its ‘nice caliphate’ undertaking.”

The identical report argued that al-Qaida could also be higher positioned to emerge as the best long-term terror menace.

“I feel we’re on the identical precipice of concern about state collapse that would result in the rise or the empowerment of transnational terrorist organizations,” Republican Consultant Peter Meijer mentioned in prerecorded remarks Monday to the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Safety, likening circumstances in Afghanistan now to people who existed previous to the September 11, 2001, terror assaults in the USA.

“We now have a vested curiosity right this moment in ensuring that Afghanistan doesn’t collapse, that there’s not an amazing humanitarian disaster that can solely empower those that search to do the West hurt,” Meijer added.

And even U.S. intelligence officers have refused to rule out that al-Qaida, or IS, specifically, may someday transfer to strike the West.

Earlier assessments instructed that would occur in as little as six months to a year, however newer reviews counsel it’ll nonetheless take each terror teams a few yr to rebuild exterior assault capabilities, ought to they determine to take action.

Here’s a have a look at the Taliban and the main terrorist organizations now working in Afghanistan, and the way they’ve fared within the yr since U.S. and coalition forces left the nation.

Click on on the identify of the group to leap to that part, or scroll to learn them so as.


Islamic State Khorasan Province

Al-Qaida core

Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent

Haqqani network

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari

Islamic Jihad Group

Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement/Turkistan Islamic Party






Since its emergence in 1994, the Taliban motion, which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has been led by an emir, a central determine ostensibly appointed for all times by a non secular council of Taliban leaders.

Like his two predecessors, present emir Hibatullah Akhundzada has made few public appearances and leads a reclusive life in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

Preliminary intelligence assessments indicated Akhundzada had been leaving administration of day-to-day authorities affairs to his appointed caretaker Cupboard within the Afghan capital. However newer intelligence from a number of international locations signifies issues have been altering.

“Outsiders’ entry to the Taliban chief is proscribed, and Hibatullah himself has reportedly been much less open to deliberation with different Taliban leaders with whom he beforehand held common consultations,” the United Nations concluded in a report in Might, based mostly on member state intelligence.

Akhundzada “is claimed to have develop into extra autocratic and dismissive of dissent,” the report added.

There are additionally indicators that the Taliban below Akhundzada are nonetheless working to consolidate energy.

“The Taliban have been shifting to what I might name calculated coercion, utilizing not as little violence as doable, however selectively making use of and focusing on violence. That is each in a army sense and in a social sense when it comes to repression, of political opposition of dissenting speech,” Andrew Watkins, a senior knowledgeable with the U.S. Institute of Peace, instructed a web based discussion board hosted Tuesday by the CATO Institute.

Varied estimates by U.S. intelligence companies and U.N. member states put the variety of Taliban fighters between 58,000 and 100,000, with numbers fluctuating in keeping with the time of yr and battlefield circumstances.

Intelligence assessments shared with the U.N., nonetheless, counsel the Taliban are in search of to extend the dimensions of their standing army to as many as 350,000 fighters. As of Might, it was believed 7,000 new recruits had accomplished coaching.

The Taliban are additionally making an attempt to nurture a nascent air pressure, with 40 operational plane captured from the previous U.S.-backed Afghan army. The listing of plane contains two Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, two U.S.-made Black Hawk helicopters, two Mi-24 helicopter gunships and a transport airplane.

Intelligence shared publicly by the U.S. and U.N. member states additional accuses the Taliban of continuous to work intently with al-Qaida and sustaining ties with different terrorist teams, pushing some to develop into a part of a brand new Taliban-run Afghan army pressure.

For his or her half, Taliban officers have publicly denied that terrorism is a matter for Afghans below their management and not too long ago claimed they had “no knowledge” that al-Zawahiri was living in Kabul.

U.S. officers are skeptical.

“We now have purpose to consider — superb purpose to consider — that members of the Taliban, Haqqani community, have been conscious of his [al-Zawahiri’s] presence in Kabul,” State Division spokesperson Ned Worth mentioned Monday. “And we’re having a look on the implications of that.”

Latest intelligence shared with the U.N. additionally suggests the Taliban are searching for methods to confront Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan Province, or IS-Khorasan.

Reviews point out the Taliban have arrange three particular forces battalions to tackle IS-Khorasan, with one of many battalions boasting 1,000 fighters.

Islamic State Khorasan Province

Islamic State Khorasan Province

Islamic State Khorasan Province

IS-Khorasan is a sworn enemy of each the Taliban and al-Qaida, which has deep and long-standing ties to Taliban management. However IS-Khorasan can also be one of many terror teams that has benefited probably the most from the Taliban takeover.

As Taliban forces shortly took management of Afghanistan final yr, they emptied quite a few prisons and allowed IS-Khorasan fighters to flee. On the time, U.S. army officers cautioned that the jail breaks allowed the fear group’s numbers to swell from a number of hundred fighters to a few thousand.

Newer assessments from the U.S. and the U.N. now put the dimensions of IS-Khorasan at between 1,500 and 4,000 fighters, concentrated largely in distant elements of Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces.

Some intelligence companies additionally argue there may be proof of smaller, covert IS-Khorasan cells unfold throughout the northern Afghan provinces of Badakhshan, Faryab, Jowzjan, Kunduz and Takhar.

“I feel the specter of Daesh is rising,” former Afghan nationwide safety adviser Hamdullah Mohib instructed VOA’s Afghan Service, utilizing the Arabic acronym for the fear group.

The Taliban “are incapable of stopping Daesh assaults, and in reality, their recruitment has been on the rise,” Mohib mentioned. “Members of the Taliban maybe have additionally joined Daesh as retaliation to possibly a few of their insurance policies and different grievances that they might have with their management.”

Latest intelligence shared with the U.N. signifies the Taliban are having difficulties placing stress on IS-Khorasan, and that some efforts might backfire.

Reviews additionally counsel that along with disgruntled former Taliban fighters, IS-Khorasan has additionally attracted some former members of the U.S.-backed Afghan army who concern retaliation from the ruling Taliban authorities.

The tempo of IS-Khorasan assaults additionally appears to have elevated, with the group claiming rocket assaults in opposition to targets in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, and likewise elevated exercise alongside the border with Tajikistan.

“I feel they’re actually making an attempt to determine that they aren’t simply confined to Afghanistan. They’ve broader goals, regional goals, as nicely,” Asfandyar Mir, a senior knowledgeable on the U.S. Institute of Peace, instructed VOA in June.

However Mir doubts that for now, IS-Khorasan is ready to develop its footprint.

IS-Khorasan chief Sanaullah Ghafari, often known as Shahab al-Muhajir, “would not consider in holding territory. He appears to suppose that holding territory is dear, and so he would not wish to do this,” Mir mentioned. “I feel their major focus will stay Afghanistan. They are going to proceed to assault these spiritual minorities after which make an actual effort to focus on Taliban leaders.”

Earlier this month, IS-Khorasan claimed an assault that killed a type of leaders, Talban cleric Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani.

Officers from the U.S. and different international locations have mentioned there aren’t any indicators IS-Khorasan is planning to conduct assaults in opposition to the West, and that it may take till early subsequent yr for the group to muster the wanted capabilities.

However a U.S. official talking to VOA on the situation of anonymity so as to focus on intelligence warned the timing is dependent upon IS-Khorasan’s political calculations.

The official mentioned ought to IS-Khorasan determine to make assaults in opposition to the West or the U.S. a precedence, it may accomplish that extra shortly.​

Al-Qaida Core

Al-Qaida Core

Al-Qaida core

Intelligence assessments from quite a lot of international locations shared with the U.N. within the months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan instructed al-Qaida was having fun with “a big enhance” from the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

And an up to date U.N. report written earlier than al-Zawahiri was killed on July 30 mentioned he was “alive and speaking freely.”

The report additional warned that, “the worldwide context is favorable to al-Qaida, which intends to be recognized again as the leader of global jihad.”

However al-Qaida’s fortunes seem to have taken a serious downturn following the July 30 strike that killed al-Zawahiri.

A newly declassified U.S. intelligence neighborhood evaluation, highlights of which have been shared with VOA, rejects the notion that the al-Qaida core is constructing momentum, regardless of a traditionally cozy relationship with the Taliban.

“Al-Qaida has not reconstituted its presence in Afghanistan because the U.S. departure in August 2021,” in keeping with the evaluation, first reported by The New York Instances.

“Ayman al-Zawahiri was the one key al-Qaida determine who tried to reestablish their presence in nation when he and his household settled in Kabul earlier this yr,” the evaluation continued. “Lower than a dozen al-Qaida core members with historic ties to the group stay in Afghanistan and possibly have been situated there previous to the autumn of Kabul; we’ve no indication that these people are concerned in exterior assault plotting.”

Nonetheless, intelligence from different international locations that was shared with the U.N. would counsel that whereas al-Qaida might not current an instantaneous menace, there may be purpose for concern.

“Al-Qaida management reportedly performs an advisory position with the Taliban, and the teams stay shut,” final month’s U.N. report cautioned. “Al-Qaida propaganda is now higher developed to compete with [Islamic State] as the important thing actor in inspiring the worldwide menace setting, and it might in the end develop into a higher supply of directed menace.”

However there are questions as as to whether Afghanistan will proceed to play a outstanding position in incubating al-Qaida and its bigger aspirations.

Present and former Western counterterrorism officers say expectations that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would spur a migration of al-Qaida followers to the nation seem to have fizzled out.

So, too, none of al-Zawahiri’s doubtless replacements are presently in Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahiri’s No. 2, Saif al-Adel, is in Iran, the place he has been for a number of years.

“He’s in Iran … do the Iranians let him depart?” mentioned a former Western counterterrorism official, who spoke to VOA on the situation of anonymity so as to focus on categorised intelligence. “It’s type of robust to be the chief of al-Qaida whereas caught in a gilded cage.”

Al-Qaida’s No. 3, Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, is likewise regarded as in Iran. And the subsequent two in line to guide al-Qaida are in Africa: Yazid Mebrak, al-Qaida within the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) chief, and Ahmed Diriye, chief of al-Shabab.

As for the al-Qaida officers nonetheless in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence companies are skeptical they might muster a considerable menace.

“We assess that neither the few remaining al-Qaida core members, nor its regional affiliate, are plotting to assault the Homeland,” the not too long ago declassified intelligence evaluation concluded. “Al-Qaida has a number of associates we consider it could name upon exterior the area to drive potential plots.”​

Al--Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent

Al–Qaida within the Indian Subcontinent

Al-Qaida within the Indian Subcontinent

Considered one of al-Qaida’s key offshoots, al-Qaida within the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), seems to now have a higher presence in Afghanistan than the group’s core.

Intelligence estimates from U.N. member states say AQIS has as much as 400 fighters in Afghanistan unfold throughout Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimruz, Paktika and Zabul provinces.

However U.N. reviews and assessments from U.S. counterterrorism officers query whether or not AQIS remains to be able to presenting any type of united or coherent entrance.

The not too long ago declassified U.S. intelligence neighborhood evaluation known as AQIS “largely inactive,” with lots of its members centered extra on media manufacturing than on plotting terror assaults in opposition to the West.

Nationwide Intelligence Council Deputy Nationwide Intelligence Officer Anastasia Smith, talking publicly in June, went so far as to explain AQIS as “weak.”

The chance its members may merely be absorbed into the Taliban “[is] definitely one thing we’re looking forward to,” she mentioned. ​

AQIS fighters, together with native Afghans and fighters from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Myanmar, are mentioned to have fought alongside the Taliban in opposition to the U.S.-backed authorities previous to its collapse.

AQIS chief Osama Mehmood and AQIS deputy Atif Yahya Ghouri are each thought to reside in Afghanistan.

Haqqani Network

Haqqani Community

Haqqani community

The Haqqani community is extensively thought-about to be probably the most influential and strategically profitable extremist group within the area. Whereas nominally loyal to the Taliban, the community, as described by the U.N., is “semi-autonomous,” sustaining ties with each al-Qaida and IS-Khorasan.

The group boasts a “extremely expert core of members who concentrate on advanced assaults and supply technical abilities, equivalent to improvised explosive machine and rocket building,” in keeping with the U.N.

The Haqqani community additionally oversees a pressure of between 3,000 and 10,000 conventional armed fighters in Khost, Paktika and Paktiya provinces, with a latest U.N. evaluation warning the group now additionally controls at the least one elite unit and controls safety in Kabul and throughout a lot of Afghanistan.

The community is run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, a son of the late mujahedeen commander and community founder Jalaluddin Haqqani. For a lot of its existence, the group has been based mostly in Pakistan’s tribal areas because it operated throughout the border in Afghanistan. The greater than 40-year-old Haqqani has a $10 million bounty on his head from the U.S. authorities and works as a deputy emir of the Taliban, in addition to the inside minister of Afghanistan.

The Haqqanis have been accused of perpetrating a few of the deadliest and most refined assaults in opposition to U.S., Indian and former Afghan authorities targets in Afghanistan since 2001.

The community is believed to have robust ties to Pakistani intelligence and al-Qaida. The U.S. designated it a overseas terrorist group in 2012.

Intelligence gathered over the previous couple of years from some U.N. member states mentioned that at instances, the Haqqanis have acted as a go-between for the Taliban and IS-Khorasan, and that with the tacit approval of the Taliban, they directed the Islamic State affiliate to assault the now defunct U.S.-backed Afghan authorities.

With U.S. forces now not in Afghanistan, it seems the Haqqani community has ceased to nurture ties with IS-Khorasan.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

Most energetic on the two,640-kilometer-long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is an rebel group concerned in terrorist assaults in each international locations.

The newest U.N. intelligence estimates put the variety of TTP fighters at between 3,000 and 4,000.

The group’s acknowledged goals are to finish the Pakistani authorities’s management over the Pashtun territories of Pakistan and to kind a strict authorities based mostly on Islamic regulation.

And the latest intelligence shared with the U.N. signifies the group’s fortunes have been on the rise.

“TTP has arguably benefited probably the most of all of the overseas extremist teams in Afghanistan from the Taliban takeover,” the U.N. warned in Might. “It has performed quite a few assaults and operations in Pakistan … suggesting that cease-fire offers have a restricted probability of success.”

The report added, “TTP additionally continues to exist as a stand-alone pressure, relatively than feeling stress to merge its fighters into Afghan Taliban models, as is the prospect for many overseas terrorist fighters.”

U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army have killed or captured a number of TTP leaders over the previous 20 years.

The group’s present chief, Noor Wali Mehsud, has publicly declared allegiance to the Afghan Taliban chief.​

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

The Islamic Motion of Uzbekistan

The Islamic Motion of Uzbekistan

The Islamic Motion of Uzbekistan (IMU) was based within the late Nineties with assist and monetary help from al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. A number of IMU leaders have served as a part of the al-Qaida hierarchy. The group has sought to switch the Uzbek authorities with a strictly Islamic regime.

IMU launched its first assault in February 1999 by concurrently detonating 5 automotive bombs in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. The group can also be believed to have carried out assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 2015, then-IMU chief Usman Ghazi and different senior members of the group shifted allegiance from al-Qaida to the rival Islamic State. However the transfer didn’t sit nicely with Taliban leaders, who launched a serious army marketing campaign in opposition to Ghazi, killing him and almost wiping out the group.

IMU’s pressure dimension was estimated at a number of hundred in 2018, however the group was reportedly battered by a large-scale Taliban onslaught in Afghanistan’s Faryab province that yr.

As of mid-2021, intelligence instructed IMU had divided into Uzbek and Tajik factions, with the Uzbek faction presumably entertaining the thought of becoming a member of IS.

Latest intelligence suggests the remnants of IMU have been preventing alongside the Taliban as they took over Afghanistan, which has earned the fear group extra freedom of motion.​

Khatiba Imam Al-Bukhari

Khatiba Imam Al-Bukhari

Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari

Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari (KIB) was based in 2011 by fighters who left the IMU and fought alongside the Taliban in opposition to the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities.

The group is led by Dilshod Dekhanov, a Tajik nationwide.

KIB’s forces are in Afghanistan’s Badghis province, although the group can also be thought to have about 100 or so fighters in Syria, presumably in Latakia or Idlib governorates.

Based on the U.N., KIB’s numbers in Afghanistan have been rising due to the profitable recruitment of locals. KIB not solely has obtained cash from the Taliban but in addition raises funds via its management in Syria.

Intelligence shared with the U.N. signifies Dekhanov visited Kabul in September, asking the Taliban to unify KIB and IMU below his management.

Dekhanov’s request was denied, reviews say, with Taliban officers pushing to make the KIB a part of a brand new Taliban military.​

Islamic Jihad Group

Islamic Jihad Group

Islamic Jihad Group

Based on intelligence assessments shared with the U.N., the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) is taken into account “probably the most combat-ready Central Asian group in Afghanistan” and is thought for experience in “army techniques and the manufacture of improvised explosive units.”

The group is led by Ilimbek Mamatov, a Kyrgyz nationwide. The group’s second-in-command, Amsattor Atabaev, is from Tajikistan.

IJG’s fighters function throughout Badakhshan, Baghlan and Kunduz provinces, fought alongside Taliban forces in opposition to the earlier authorities, and even received some monetary help from the Taliban over the previous yr.

Like KIB’s chief, Mamatov is reported to have requested Taliban leaders to unite key Central Asian teams below his management. However reviews say his request was rejected.​

Jap Turkistan Islamic Motion/Turkistan Islamic Social gathering

Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement/Turkistan Islamic Party

Jap Turkistan Islamic Motion/Turkistan Islamic Social gathering

The Jap Turkistan Islamic Motion (ETIM), often known as the Turkistan Islamic Social gathering (TIP), was established within the Xinjiang area of China, with its first reported assault in 1998.

After 2001, it started getting assist from each al-Qaida and the Taliban, and it has been persistently energetic in Afghanistan since 2007.

Based on intelligence estimates supplied by U.N. member states, ETIM has as many as 1,000 fighters in Afghanistan coaching and plotting for assaults on Chinese language targets.

Many of the ETIM fighters had been in Badakhshan province, which borders China. However intelligence shared with the U.N. signifies the Taliban relocated most of the fighters “to each shield and restrain the group.”

Latest intelligence means that ETIM fighters have embraced the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and that members have been inspired to forge deeper ties with Afghanistan.

“A number of member states reported some ETIM/TIP members have fraudulently obtained native id paperwork by fabricating Afghan identities,” the U.N. mentioned in a latest report.

“The group is in search of to additional entrench its presence within the nation by each organizing marriages to native ladies and facilitating the relocation of Uyghur ladies to Afghanistan,” the report added.

Along with the group’s shut ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida, it has been reported to collaborate with different teams in Afghanistan, together with TTP and Jamaat Ansarullah, an ethnically Tajik faction of the IMU.

Intelligence additionally means that ETIM has misplaced some members to IS-Khorasan or is actively working with the group, with as many as 50 Uyghur fighters siding with the IS affiliate in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.




Lashkar-e-Islam was based within the Khyber district of Pakistan in 2004 however relocated to Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province in 2014, following clashes with the Pakistani army.

Since coming to Afghanistan, Lashkar-e-Islam has clashed with IS-Khorasan, with main skirmishes happening in 2018 as the 2 teams fought for management of territory and sources.


Hezb-e-Islami, or Social gathering of Islam, was based in 1976 by former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.



The group shares a lot of the identical ideology because the Taliban, and its fighters have assisted the Taliban up to now.

In 2015, Hekmatyar ordered his followers to assist IS fighters in Afghanistan however by no means pledged allegiance to IS.

Hezb-e-Islami was recognized to focus on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, finishing up a collection of assaults on U.S. and coalition forces in from 2013 to 2015.​




Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or Military of the Pure, was based in Pakistan within the Nineties and is usually often called Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

Led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and aligned with al-Qaida, the group is maybe greatest recognized for finishing up the November 2008 assaults in Mumbai, India, that killed greater than 160 folks.

Latest intelligence assessments shared with the U.N. warn the group’s management met with Taliban officers in January and can also be now working coaching camps in Afghanistan, having beforehand despatched fighters to Afghanistan to help the Taliban of their efforts.

The U.S. is providing a $10 million reward for info resulting in Saeed’s conviction within the Mumbai assaults.

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