On February 9th, US state-operated outlet Voice of America reported that ISIS’ affiliate in Afghanistan has recovered and may soon look to strike further afield, according to mostly unnamed U.S. military and intelligence officials.
The increased activity of ISIS in Afghanistan coincides with the increased activity of the terrorist group in Syria.
It also coincides with the entry of US President Joe Biden into the White House.
And finally, it comes at a very opportune time, when many military and US officials are urging Joe Biden not to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, as per the deal with the Taliban, and simply not honor it.
“New leadership allowed it to stabilize and increase localized and lone wolf attacks throughout the second half of the year ,” U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie said.
And while there are doubts about whether IS-Khorasan will again be able to hold territory as it once did, the group is showing few signs of slowing down in 2021.
“The group maintains a steady operational tempo and probably retains the ability to conduct attacks in Kabul and other urban centers,” an unnamed U.S. official said.
Most of the attacks have been focused on areas in which IS-Khorasan has historically had a presence, the group’s leadership has not given up on some of its grander ambitions.
“We are concerned about the group’s demonstrated interest in conducting external operations,” the official said, noting IS-Khorasan is still “of the largest and most lethal branches of ISIS’s global network and maintain a direct relationship with ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria.”
Also, a justification to stay is much needed right now.
The U.S. and other intelligence agencies have also seen signs of the terror group’s ability to persist in parts of Afghanistan it once called home.
“Despite its significant loss of territory, ISIL-K has not been entirely eradicated from the districts of Manogay, in Kunar, and Achin, in Nangarhar,” according to a new United Nations report, referring to the group by one of its many acronyms.
“Sleeper cells are active in other parts of the country, particularly in Kabul,” the U.N. report added, noting that is where new IS-Khorasan leader Shahab al-Muhajir, also known as Sanaullah, is based.
Some intelligence services of U.N. member states (unnamed) also suspect IS-Khorasan is getting help from an unusual source — the Haqqani Network, which allegedly maintains ties with both the Taliban and IS rival al-Qaeda.
US President Joe Biden needs to make a swift, tough decision, and it currently appears that he will chose to remain in Afghanistan, for the United States’ longest and most expensive war.
Regardless, a war outside your borders helps shift the focus away from the internal chaos.
- On February 10, 3 IED attacks were reported in Kabul city killing at least 3 people including Mohammadzai Kochi, police chief of Kabul’s PD5
- On February 9, 7 Taliban members were killed and 6 others were wounded in an airstrike in Qalia-Zal district of Konduz province, according to the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense
- On February 10, clashes between Taliban and security forces continued near Kandahar city
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