It would be funny if it wasn’t so deadly serious. Erstwhile extremist group the Taliban, now running Afghanistan, is now dealing with its own terror threat: the Afghan offshoot of the Islamic State group, ISIS-K. They are turning into the biggest opponent of Taliban rule there and responsible for dozens of deadly attacks across the country in recent weeks. The Taliban is barely able to handle them.
“They can create some real trouble for the Taliban,” the Heritage Institute’s Jim Carafano told us.Like a brazen attack in Taliban-controlled Kabul this week. A suicide bomber targeted a military hospital. Gunmen sprayed bullets through the wards. Another bomber targeted those responding. At least 25 killed. Dozens injured, including civilians … Taliban … and the attackers.
ISIS-K claiming responsibility.
“It was a terrible incident,” one eyewitness said.
Perhaps the group’s most spectacular attack was at Kabul Airport during the mass evacuation as the U.S. left in August. Among others, 13 U.S. service members were killed. Ironically, new reports say former Afghan security officials, trained by U.S.-led forces, disaffected from the new Taliban government, are joining ranks with Islamic State. And U.S. officials say, ISIS-K could be an external threat to the homeland within six months.
Heritage’s Carafano noted to us, “The reality is when the United States was there, there was a lid on a summering pot.”
The U.S. has offered to share intelligence with the Taliban about Islamic State. The offer was rejected. One thing the Taliban does want is the frozen aid money, which might help stabilize the country. The U.N. says nearly all Afghans aren’t getting enough to eat and most of the country could fall below the poverty line in the coming months.
In the words of a Taliban official in Kabul, “The Taliban is responsible to help and assist the Afghan people.”
Also, of course, at immediate risk of an ISIS-K attack in Afghanistan, Americans remaining there. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says a few hundred are still left behind.