The Islamic State Benefits From the Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 1 September 2021

In his speech last night announcing the end of the American presence in Afghanistan and what happens next, Secretary of State Blinken said: “The Taliban seeks international legitimacy and support”, and “the Taliban can do that by meeting commitments and obligations”, which include “counter-terrorism”.

To most people it will seem strange that the Taliban could be regarded as a counter-terrorism partner, and it is. Despite the U.S. never formally listing the Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), the Taliban is fully integrated in a jihadist network under the control of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that includes Al-Qaeda.

Among the most capable and savage of ISI’s factions is the Haqqani Network, which overtly holds senior positions in the Taliban and is a registered FTO. On Friday, the U.S. administration claimed that they were “separate entities”. A senior Haqqani operative ripped away this fig-leaf days later, declaring bluntly: “We are the Taliban”.

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