According to a recently released report by a UN Security Council monitoring team, the Taliban is the “primary partner for all foreign terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan,” including al Qaeda. The only exception is the Islamic State, which opposes the Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings this month, one in Balochistan and the other in Swat. At least 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the attack in Swat. The jihadists controlled Swat from 2007 to 2009, when Pakistani forces removed them from power. The group has claimed at least 5 “martyrdom” operations thus far in 2018, after claiming 11 in all of 2017.
The State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism says that Pakistan “did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban,” including the Haqqani Network, in 2016. The Taliban’s leadership has long had a presence in Pakistan.
An American soldier was killed while fighting the Islamic State’s jihadists in eastern Afghanistan. While the Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan province) has suffered significant losses since early 2016, it still maintains a significant operational capacity and can mount high-profile attacks.
The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his “companions” in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda.
Earlier today, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khorasani denied reports that his group was going to join Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State. Khorasani said that these reports are “false” and based on “lies.” There are multiple indications that al Qaeda helped reorganize the current Pakistani Taliban coalition this year.
The Pakistani Taliban has released a lengthy statement rejecting Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s claim to be the new caliph. The group praises Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, as well as deceased al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al Zawahiri.
The Islamic State claims it operates in multiple Afghan provinces, and runs a training camp in Farah.