Terrorism will increase under the new Afghan Taliban government


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Taliban forces patrol the runway the day after the withdrawal of American troops from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 31, 2021.

Stringer | Reuters

The Taliban in Afghanistan have given names new interim government led by hardliners while the group undertakes to exercise strict Islamic rule over a country of approximately 40 million. In the new cabinet of the newly renewed Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan has no women and no positions of opposition forces or ethnic and religious minorities.

There are few people in the international community who have predicted the speed with which the militant Islamist group will occupy Afghanistan, making a series of staggering territorial gains in July and August when the United States withdrew its troops to end its 20-year war in the country.

The Taliban’s moves so far show a failure to deliver on the group’s earlier promise of an “inclusive” government, even when the moves put Western financial aid in jeopardy, and do not bode well for those who wanted Afghanistan to tackle terrorist activities. Experts warn that the global jihadist movement will feel encouraged by what they see as a triumph in Afghanistan.

“In the foreseeable future, Afghanistan will be led by senior Taliban leaders who in many cases include the worst of the worst,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asian Program at the Wilson Center, told CNBC on Wednesday. Kugelman specifically pointed to individuals from the Haqqani network, which is known as the most brutal faction of the Taliban.

In a controversial appointment, Sirajuddin Haqqani became Afghan Interior Minister, in charge of police and security. Haqqani is the leader of a Haqqani network known to have ties to Al Qaeda. He is on the list of the most wanted FBI and has been declared a global terrorist. Providing a safe haven for the Al Qaeda Taliban in the 1990s is what led the U.S. to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

In the years following the U.S. invasion, Haqqani resorted to violent tactics as a substitute for the Afghan Taliban, including the use of death squads for executions and the release of videos of mass beheadings.

History of mass attacks on victims

The Sunni Islamist network Haqqani was founded in the 1970s, fought the Afghan regime with Soviet support in the 1980s, and later was a pioneer in the use of suicide bombings in Afghanistan, which killed and wounded thousands of American, coalition and Afghan soldiers. High-profile attacks include the 2008 bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul and the 20-hour siege of the US Embassy in Kabul in 2011, which killed 16 Afghans.

It is important to note that, although some Taliban representatives say that the group will now be more conciliatory than in the past and will adhere to certain international norms, the group itself is not a monolith; rather, it consists of numerous factions with varying degrees of extremism and a propensity to support other terrorist groups.

And while the Taliban’s main rival is ISIS-K or the Islamic State of Khorasan, there are links between ISIS-Ka and the Haqqani network, says Sajjan Gohel, director of international security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

“There has actually been tactical and strategic convergence between the Islamic State-Khorasan and Haqqanis, if not the entire Taliban,” Gohel said. wrote in op-ed for Foreign Policy magazine in late August. “The Taliban is made up of several factions, each with its own leadership, structure and control over Afghan territory,” he said.

“I think you are looking at a situation where, no matter what kind of government we have in Afghanistan, the risk of terrorism increases just because you have the Taliban under control and the Taliban are not known for trying to deny space to their militant partners in the country other than ISIS “Who is their rival,” Kugelman said.

“But let’s be clear here,” he added. “You will have several members of the Haqqani network – which has been involved in some of the most horrific terrorist attacks in Afghanistan with casualties for years – and some of these leaders will take those leading positions, including the interior ministries, and that is a big reason to concern, no matter how they cut it. ”

“Terrorist groups under the Taliban’s umbrella”

Haibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Taliban since his predecessor was killed in a drone attack in 2016, will remain the ultimate authority on the group’s religious, political and military issues. A stubborn priest whose son was a suicide bomber, Akhundzada swore that the new government would continue sharia rule.

Muhammad Hassan Akhund, Afghanistan’s foreign minister before the 2001 U.S. invasion, has been appointed prime minister.

“The government presented today includes a constellation of stubborn members in the Taliban leadership,” Peter Michael McKinley, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said Wednesday. He noted that Interior Minister Haqqani gave $ 5 million from the FBI for terrorist acts against soldiers and civilians, and the position of defense minister assigned to Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of the late Taliban founder Mullah Omar.

Taliban members gather and give speeches in front of Herat Municipality after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is completed, in Herat, Afghanistan on August 31, 2021.

Mir Ahmad Firooz Mashoof Anadolu Agency Getty Images

“So if the Taliban wanted to send a message to the international community that they want to have a different stance from the government he headed between 1996 and 2001, this is not the best start.”

The State Department reiterated its concern over the files of some men in the new Afghan government and reiterated the expectation that Afghanistan would not threaten other nations and allow humanitarian access to the country.

The biggest fear in the international community, said Nader Nadery, a senior member of Afghanistan’s Peace Negotiating Team, “is about consolidating the power of all terrorist groups. [under] the Taliban’s umbrella and the space the Taliban provide them. ”

With all of this in mind, however, there are “many calculations that need to be made about responding to the emerging humanitarian crisis” in the country, McKinley said. And for that they will need money.

With an economy heavily dependent on aid and a government 80% funded by Western donors, the Taliban will “have to take into account at least some international problems,” he noted. “So the initial signs aren’t encouraging, but we have to work with what’s coming in the coming days in terms of actual actions.”

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