Security in Badakhshan has gradually worsened over the past five years since the Afghan military and police took full control of security in the province. Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups have a significant presence in the northern province.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al Qaeda-affiliated group, has released a series of images showing a large number of fighters preparing for battle in Syria. The TIP has been a key jihadist group within the insurgency for years.
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 Turkistan Islamic Party, “Incite the Believers” operations room and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham are all battling Bashar al-Assad’s loyalists in Latakia, Syria.
The head of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, has called on jihadist “scholars” to do more to address the plight of Uighurs. Al-Turkistani addresses his message to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a number of al Qaeda ideologues.
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.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in Afghanistan and Syria has long operated as part of the Taliban-al Qaeda axis. Earlier this year, however, the TIP’s Syrian branch sided with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) during its battles with other rebel groups. This infighting and related events have complicated the picture with respect to the TIP in Syria. One TIP-affiliated outlet claimed earlier this year that the group’s senior management had sent new leadership from Afghanistan to Syria.
The foreign fighters include one Canadian and three French-speaking militants. The latter bunch likely belong to Omar Diaby’s Firqatul Ghuraba, a French jihadist outfit in Syria.