The suicide bombings at the Kabul airport are almost certainly the work of the Islamic State’s “Khorasan Province” (ISKP), the branch of the organisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that was officially recognised by Islamic State (ISIS) “Centre” in 2015. The group had been oddly quiet since the fall of Kabul, and we can now see why.
A lot of official commentary from the U.S. government and analytical work influenced by this has written off ISKP over the last few years after a series of Taliban offensives against the group. The reality was that ISKP had withdrawn from overt view and was recuperating and waiting, particularly for the prison breaks it knew would accompany a Taliban conquest of the country.
These intra-jihadi clashes became a part of the political narrative because they occurred in tandem with the so-called peace process, which excluded the Afghan government, and forced the release of thousands of jihadists, fatally wounding the Afghan state. The “process”, a cover for American withdrawal, required legitimising the Taliban, and at senior levels in both the Trump administration and the Biden administration. One way this was done was to claim the Taliban could be a counter-terrorism partner, certainly against ISKP and even against Al-Qaeda.
The Taliban cannot fight Al-Qaeda.
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