The Islamic State (IS) released the 302nd edition of Al-Naba, its weekly newsletter, on 2 September. The major focus of Al-Naba 302 was the 26 August bombing of the Kabul Airport by IS’s “Khorasan Province” (ISKP) that killed nearly 200 people, including thirteen members of the U.S. military (eleven marines, one soldier, and one navy corpsman), and wounded 150 people.
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The main editorial on page three, “The Fight of Monotheism in Kabul” (Maarka al-Tawhid fi Kabul), is IS’s ideological statement on what the atrocity means to them.
Unsurprisingly, while a large part of the editorial is against the U.S. and the West, a significant portion is directed against IS’s jihadist rivals in Afghanistan—the jihadist superstructure whose best-known components are the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network.
IS’s primary line of attack in the editorial—and in the operational article on the attack (see below)—is that the Taliban coalition worked with the U.S. in the evacuation of the airport, finally revealing openly its long collaboration, a serious violation of jihadi-Salafist ideology, not only because the U.S. is an infidel power but because all states in the international order are man-made creations that trample the laws of God and must be overthrown. It is, then, surprising that IS does not mention Pakistan’s control of the jihadist army that just conquered Afghanistan—the word “Pakistan”, indeed, does not appear in either article—and this is all the more curious since IS has previously made the Taliban-Qaeda reliance on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency a central point of its propaganda, which essentially casts the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as fake jihadists and calls on Islamic militants to join IS if they wish to engage in true jihad.
The editorial begins by celebrating the Kabul attack as dispelling “the illusions of those who dream of peace, and drawing a map of light for a new stage of jihad”. Al-Naba does not concede that there were any civilian casualties, saying that those killed were Americans and “spies and protectors from the apostate Taliban”. The attack “summed up the situation with great accuracy … they [had] all united in the war against the Islamic State, so they shared in the same fate, their blood and corpses mixed as if they were all the same”. This is a reference to the de facto joint U.S.-Taliban operations conducted against ISKP.
When President Joe Biden appeared hours later, “thundering and threatening the soldiers of the Islamic State with war and revenge”, says Al-Naba, he demolished “the claims of his foolish predecessor, [Donald] Trump, who announced the elimination of the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.” If IS/ISKP was able to strike the Americans “in the heart” of Kabul’s “most fortified areas”, then clearly the group was not defeated.
Al-Naba is very pleased that this “blessed attack” inflicted the “greatest human loss” on the U.S. in a decade in Afghanistan, declaring it “a double loss in which America lost its soldiers and a lot of its prestige that Abd al-Rahman destroyed with the pickaxe (بمعول) of monotheism”. IS mocks the “failed air raid” carried out in retaliation for the airport atrocity, where the U.S. claimed to have targeted “a ‘leader’ of Wilayat Khorasan without even mentioning his name”.
IS also mocks the way Americans “began to speak … about Wilayat Khorasan as if it had only just arisen!” This was, says Al-Naba, a way to “hide their previous false claims that it had been eradicated”. All those who spoke of ISKP’s demise—Trump, Biden, “the Afghan taghut that America abandoned” (President Ashraf Ghani)—are gone, and any new war against the Islamic State will end just as the others have done, in failure—an unsubtle allusion to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq that allowed the creation of the caliphate.
While everybody else in Afghanistan was shifting stances and alliances, says Al-Naba, IS remained committed to a “life of faith and servitude to God Almighty alone”, working with “great patience” for Islam, to restore through jihad a regime that will enrage the disbelievers. In this category of unbelief, IS has the Arab and non-Arab rulers of the Muslim world, and Al-Qaeda, whose supporters are teased for “descending into conspiracy theories in the manner of the apostate sons of the [Muslim] Brotherhood, or denouncing the killing”.
All of this made clear, says Al-Naba, that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda consider the Islamic State their greatest enemy, far more than the West—otherwise how could they have signed on to “the Doha Agreement that obliges them to protect [Western soldiers] and fight [IS] under the ‘combatting terrorism’ clause!”
Spelling out that this was propaganda of the deed, IS says it hopes the Kabul massacre will be “a blessing that awakens the hearts of some of the unwary who were led by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda into the tunnel of deviance”, and that they will repent and join IS. “The attack … clarified the difference between the path of the believers and the path of the idolaters [or polytheists; al-mushrikeen]”, says Al-Naba.
On the same theme, Al-Naba says that while IS’s suicide bomber had been a prisoner of the Americans, “the Taliban fighters were busy securing the Crusaders’ subjects and spies, and delivering them to the U.S. airstrips”. This is only what the whole world could see, says Al-Naba: “what is hidden is dirtier!”
IS concludes with further accusations that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have betrayed jihadism by permitting nationalist celebrations like independence day in Afghanistan and cosying up to the West: “[The Taliban] are today more closely linked and connected to America and the tawaghit of the world than ever before. Indeed, the Taliban’s survival in power today depends primarily on its behaviour in ‘fighting terrorism’ and meeting American demands and its permanent coordination with the tawaghit of Europe.”
“America’s ‘military’ exit from Afghanistan is but another stage of the war against Islam”, says Al-Naba, “with new agents led by a new ‘[Hamid] Karzai’! [This is] a stage in which fighting and separation between the soldiers of the caliphate and the soldiers of patriotism and nationalism will intensify!”
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The operational details of ISKP’s attack on the Afghan civilians and others at the Kabul Airport are given on pages four and five.
“While the coordination between the Crusader America and the apostate Taliban militia was most intense in the operations of securing and evacuating thousands of Crusaders and Afghan spies, a hero of Islam tightened his explosive belt, detonating it among the crowds of the Crusaders and apostates swarming at the gates of the Kabul airport, leaving dozens of dead and wounded, including 30 [U.S.] soldiers … [and] two British soldiers”. So begins Al-Naba.
The count for killed and wounded Americans is about right: in addition to the thirteen dead, it is believed eighteen were wounded.
Al-Naba names the suicide-murderer as Abd al-Rahman al-Logari, thus presumably an Afghan from Logar province, in the eastern area of the country, near the Loya Paktia from which Pakistan began its jihad against Afghanistan in the early 1970s, the same zone that later housed the Arab-Afghans, including the nascent Al-Qaeda, under the protection of the ISI’s Haqqani Network, and adjacent to the area ISKP has made its home base in Nangarhar.
By Al-Naba’s account, Abd al-Rahman “was able to penetrate all the security fortifications imposed by the American forces and the apostate Taliban militia around the capital, Kabul, and was able to reach a large gathering of translators and those collaborating with the U.S. army at Baran Camp near Kabul Airport, and then detonated his explosive belt”. Al-Naba makes a particular point of “the martyrdom brother” having been “no more than five metres” from U.S. forces when he blew himself up.
Very importantly, Al-Naba says Abd al-Rahman was recently released from jail. Al-Naba says only that Abd al-Rahman escaped “when the former government forces fled, but it is very likely the Taliban broke him out of prison—making nonsense of the claims by and about the Taliban that they can or will cooperate with the West on counter-terrorism (as if they are not themselves a terrorist group), and underlining the criminal irresponsibility of the Biden administration in handing Afghanistan over to the Taliban, when it should have been known that among the first things they would do is free all the jihadists in the prisons.
Al-Naba re-emphasises the cooperation between the Taliban and the Western forces at the Kabul airport, quoting from the appalling Pentagon statements that defended the Taliban as capable and reliable partners. That this was the worst loss for U.S. and British troops in ten years is, of course, repeated and celebrated. Again it is claimed that only “translators and spies” were killed by IS.
A new claim is introduced by Al-Naba from a “special source”: after the bombing “American forces … fired randomly and hysterically towards the crowds … which caused an increase in the number of dead and wounded among their spies and collaborators”. One purpose of this story could well be to further insulate IS from the reality of it having murdered random Afghan (Sunni) civilians at the Kabul airport—they can claim any civilian deaths were due to this American panic reaction.
IS gloat over the “confusion” of the U.S. during the bombing, when it was believed there had been two suicide attacks, though Al-Naba says the confusion “reached its climax” with the drone strike on 27 August in Nangarhar that supposedly killed an ISKP “planner”. Al-Naba says, as it might be expected to, that the U.S. was wrong about this.
Al-Naba celebrates the 30 August Katyusha rocket attacks by ISKP on the Kabul airport just as the Americans were leaving and notes “the Taliban failed to protect them”. Al-Naba says it has exclusive photographs of these missiles (see above).
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 UPDATE: on 19 September, Firstpost, an Indian news outlet, published an article, sourced to officers of India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which claimed that Abd al-Rahman was indeed released by the Taliban, specifically from Bagram Airbase, where he had been imprisoned after being extradited in September 2017 from India, where he had been planning terrorist attacks. All caveats about the specifics, given the clear incentive RAW has to tie the Kabul atrocity as closely as it can to Pakistan—like many Indians (and Afghans), Firstpost’s position is not just that the ISI’s jihadists released the ISKP killer, but that ISKP itself is just one more front for ISI. Still, even without the extradition part of the story, it is a scandal if the massacre of Afghans and Western troops was carried out by someone the Taliban freed from the surrendered Bagram Airbase.