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Isis-K and the Taliban
  • Isis-K and the Taliban
    Isis-K and the Taliban
Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi says the government in Kabul "Condemns in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack in Moscow... claimed by Daesh(the Arabic name for Isis-K) and considers it a blatant violation of all humanitarian standards." The Taliban also let it be known through their Al-Mersaad news agency that the Moscow attack can be traced back to terrorists raised in countries "neighboring Afghanistan." And they add, in a leaked internal audio message circulated by pro-Isis-K channels that the Salafist denomination madrasas active in Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan, Kabul and northern Afghanistan are as many bases for Isis-K infiltrators. They declared that authorizing madrassas of a different denomination than the Taliban (who are Deobandi) was a serious mistake, adding that: "The Islamic Emirate must fight Isis-K in its safe havens in Pakistan by deploying suicide bombers and infiltrating its ranks" and that "Isis-K training centers, supported by Pakistani intelligence, are located in Orakzai Agency, Yakatoot, Peshawar, Islamabad, Krash Adda, Quetta and Abbottabad." In fact, the first Isis-signed pamphlets had first appeared in the region a decade ago in and around Peshawar. The pamphlets announced the creation of the Islamic State and called local groups to jihad, calling for the unity of all Muslims and the creation of a caliphate from Pakistan to Syria and Iraq. The Khorasan cell of the Islamic State thus emerged in the beginning from the union of fighters from the real Isis plus some factions of Taliban and assorted jihadi including the Jundullah, an anti-Shiite group operating mainly against Iran, and the Ttp, the so-called Pakistani Taliban who fight against Islamabad and according to Pakistan are remotely operated from Kabul. The group, to oversimplify as much as possible, presents itself as the only true heir to the jihadists who fought in Afghanistan, the anti-Soviet Afghan mujahedin, Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden: who are mentioned with respect, while accusing Al Qaeda and the Taliban of having lost their way and being, in essence, traitors to the cause. The ISKP or Isis-K proper is later officially formed from the split of Isis Levant (Isis-L), which split into two factions: one led by Ustad Moawya and another led by Aslam Faroqqi. Farooqi's men were mainly Pakistani and run remotely by Isi, military intelligence, which provided financial and logistical support by sheltering fighters in Pakistan's tribal areas. Isis-K allegedly had ties with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network. The cream of the Pakistani jihad, in short, and also a piece of the current Afghan government (within which, it should be remembered, there is a not-so-subterranean struggle going on between the Haqqani faction and that of supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada). Until a few months after the Taliban's return to Kabul, Isis-K would be used by the Pakistani services to do the dirty work on behalf of the Taliban engaged first in the Doha peace talks and then in trying to convince the West of the need to arm itself to prevent Afghanistan from becoming again (remaining, more plausibly) the favorite playground of international jihad. Over the years, the group has targeted Afghan security forces and politicians, the Taliban, religious minorities, U.S. and NATO forces, and international agencies, including humanitarian organizations: and the attacks carried out in the region between 2019 and 2021 are said to be the result of close collaboration between Isis-K, the Taliban's Haqqani network, and other terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Over the past three years, the strategy has changed: the Iskp, in addition to now openly accusing the Taliban of treason, talks of 'liberating' Afghanistan, Pakistan and East Turkmenistan (China's Xinjiang region), allying with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to fight Russia and China before joining the other Isis armies against the reviled West. In fact, one of the most peculiar aspects of Isis-K's external operational networks is the involvement of large numbers of Tajik nationals in the various attack, financing and recruitment plans carried out, in addition to Iran, Turkey and even Germany (where seven people were arrested last July on charges of planning terrorist attacks) and other European countries. The U.S. has been monitoring the group for months, with General Michael E. Kurilla, head of the U.S. Army Central Command, sounding the alarm by declaring that Isis-K "possesses the capability and will to attack Western interests abroad in as little as six months."