While ISKP claimed responsibility for the Kerman twin suicide bombings, Iranian state media and officials are downplaying the Afghanistan connection and are instead pointing fingers at Israel. Despite internal crackdowns and heightened security measures, Iran treads carefully to avoid straining relations with the Taliban amid escalating tensions in the region.
FDD’s Long War Journal responds to the former ambassador’s assertion that assessments of Afghanistan once again becoming a terrorist safe haven are false.
The U.S. military continues to recycle stale estimates of Al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan, and elevate the Islamic State as a greater threat.
Sanaullah Ghafar, who is also known as Shabab al-Muhajir, has been identified as an “ambitious new leader” of the Islamic State Khorasan Province. His challenge is to hold off the vastly superior Taliban, which controls Afghanistan.
The Taliban has the advantage in all of the key areas, save one. The Taliban has state sponsors, terrorist allies, regional support, a marked superiority in weapons and numbers, and controls all of Afghanistan. ISKP can only match the Taliban in one area, and this the will to fight and persevere.
The Islamic State claims to have attacked multiple Taliban personnel and vehicles across the city of Jalalabad on Sept. 18 and 19.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a prison assault in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. The facility reportedly holds about 1,500 inmates. It’s not clear how many were freed.
German prosecutors announced last week that four alleged ISIS members were arrested and charged with planning attacks against U.S. military facilities. The four are from Tajikistan, a Central Asian country ISIS has long targeted for its recruiting efforts.
The Islamic State’s Khorasan arm claims its terrorist, Abu Khalid al-Hindi, carried out an assault on a Sikh temple in Kabul earlier today. Despite suffering setbacks in eastern Afghanistan, the group has conducted several attacks in the Afghan capital this year.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s assault on a memorial service held in honor of Abdul Ali Mazari, a Hazara political leader killed in 1995. The group’s Khorasan arm assaulted the same memorial rally last year.
According to a recently released report submitted to the UN Security Council, the Islamic State’s central leadership replaced the group’s head in Afghanistan earlier this year. The leadership change reportedly occurred after an Islamic State “core delegation” visited the country.
Amrullah Saleh was responsible for killing and capturing thousands of Taliban commanders and fighters during his tenure as NDS chief and during his brief stint as interior minister.
Eleven people were killed and dozens more were wounded in the bombings. The Taliban has launched seven suicide attacks in Afghanistan in the past 25 days.
The Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan is the latest province of the so-called caliphate to release a video as part of the “And the Best Outcome is for the Righteous” series. Fighters in Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kashmir, and Pakistan are shown renewing their oaths of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. One speaker blasts the Taliban, encouraging its fighters to defect.
An Islamic State suicide bomber struck outside the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul earlier today. It is the second time the so-called Khorasan province has attacked the academy. According to UNAMA, the jihadists launch more “suicide and complex attacks” in the Afghan capital than in any other area of the country.
An 18-year-old man from North Texas has pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to actively recruit for the Pakistani-backed terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to a release from the Department of Justice last week.
On May 14, the UN Security Council added the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province to its list of sanctioned terrorist entities. The group has recently rebranded operations in Kashmir and Pakistan as the work of supposedly new “provinces.”
A small team of Islamic State jihadists assaulted the Ministry of Communications in Kabul on Apr. 20. It was the latest in a string of attacks on government ministries and other official sites in the Afghan capital.
Earlier today, the Islamic State’s Khorasan “province” attacked a memorial held in honor of Abdul Ali Mazari, an ethnic Hazara leader who was killed by the Taliban in 1995. The Islamic State’s loyalists frequently target Shiites in the Afghan capital.
According to the UN’s Jan. 2019 assessment, al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban is “long-standing” and “strong.” And al Qaeda “continues to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.” The UN estimates that the Islamic State has several thousand fighters in Afghanistan as well.
According to UNAMA’s annual report for 2018, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan than in any year since 2009. The Taliban remains the main culprit when it comes to civilian casualties, killing or wounding more than any other party. But the number casualties attributed to the Islamic State’s branch more than doubled in 2018, as compared to 2017.
The US military’s repeated attempts to spin the Taliban’s victory in Jawzjan as its own only serves to demonstrate just how eager it is to manufacture successes in Afghanistan when they are few and far between.
The press release that announced Orakzai’s death said that he “is the third Islamic State – Khorasan chief killed in 25 months.” However, that is incorrect. The US military has announced the death of four Khorasan province emirs since July 2016.
Bajauri’s death is likely to be touted as a strategic blow to Khorasan province. However, the US military has killed the three previous leaders in the span of 25 months, and yet the group has expanded its operations.
At a Pentagon press conference, General Nicholson again gave a Pollyannish assessment of the state of Afghanistan. He claimed the peace process is working and the Taliban’s offensive is failing, and took credit for a Taliban victory over the Islamic State.
The complex Taliban operation that was designed to eject the Islamic State from Jawzjan highlights the Taliban’s ability to coordinate and mass for attacks in the Afghan north. However it is unlikely that the Islamic State has been “completely defeated” in the north.
The rise of the Islamic State in Jawzjan province over the past year has threatened the Taliban’s operations in the Afghan north.
The US military initially assessed that an attack on Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior in Kabul yesterday wasn’t the work of the Islamic State, but instead the Taliban’s Haqqani Network. However, the Islamic State’s so-called Khorasan province quickly claimed responsibility for the operation. And today, the group released a photo purportedly showing the 10-man (or adolescent) team responsible.
According to a State Department report published this week, the Taliban continues “to assassinate and threaten religious leaders with death for preaching messages contrary to” its “interpretation of Islam or its political agenda.” As part of its widespread assassination campaign, Taliban gunmen have been killing “imams and other religious officials throughout the country.”
Hikmatullah is part of the contingent of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan that defected and joined the Islamic State after the Taliban was caught hiding the death of Mullah Omar.