Al Qaeda, ISIS-Okay, and a trio of has-beens: The gamers in Taliban-led Afghanistan

Just over every week in the past, the U.S.-backed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was overthrown because the Taliban swept by way of Afghanistan and seized the capital with the intention of building the so-called “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

As hundreds of People and Afghan allies stay behind Taliban traces in Afghanistan because the U.S. evacuation at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport continues, a number of gamers within the nation, together with Taliban allies such because the Haqqani Community and al Qaeda, have strengthened their hand whereas anti-Taliban warlords have fled the nation and anti-Taliban resistance fighters have interaction in a determined combat with the nation’s new rulers. In the meantime, the US worries that the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan might perform a terrorist assault on the crowded and chaotic Kabul airport.

Here’s a have a look at a few of the key factions within the new Afghanistan.


Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, the top of the Taliban’s political workplace in Doha, was freed from Pakistan in 2018 and is essentially the most distinguished of hundreds of Taliban prisoners freed at America’s request in its efforts to advertise failed peace  talks between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities. Baradar is seen as the highest chief for the nation.

Baradar is a co-founder  of the Taliban, together with one-eyed, now-deceased Mullah Mohammed Omar in 1994. Baradar fought within the Soviet-Afghan struggle within the Nineties and led the Taliban’s forces in northern Afghanistan after 9/11, the place he battled with the Northern Alliance. He was arrested  in  Karachi by Pakistan’s Inter-Providers Intelligence and the CIA in early 2010 however was launched in October 2018 on the request of the U.S. because it sought to bolster “peace talks.”

Haibatullah Akhundzada is thought-about the “Emir” of Afghanistan, or the so-called “Chief of the Trustworthy” by the Taliban. Akhundzada is believed to be the Taliban’s supreme commander, with highly effective affect over the group’s navy, political, and spiritual insurance policies. Akhundzada was a part of the anti-Soviet struggle within the Eighties and helped lead Afghanistan’s Shariah courts within the Nineties.

Present al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri, who had been Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command and took over the group after a U.S. particular forces raid killed bin Laden in Pakistan, reportedly swore allegiance to Akhundzada in 2016. Bin Laden had pledged allegiance to Omar.

Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob is the oldest son of Omar and is at the moment a deputy chief within the Taliban and serves as their navy chief. Yaqoob helped run the Taliban’s huge and profitable insurgency in opposition to the Afghan authorities.

Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, also called Abdul Hakim Haqqani, might additionally play a main function within the Taliban authorities going ahead after serving because the Taliban’s chief negotiator in Doha starting in September 2020.

Members of the “Taliban 5,” high-value leaders held at Guantanamo Bay till they have been swapped by President Barack Obama in alternate for the return of deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, additionally may play roles within the new Taliban authorities.


Haqqani Community

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the “deputy emir” of the Taliban, additionally “at the moment leads the day-to-day actions of the Haqqani Community,” in line with the State Division, which defined that “the Haqqani Community is allied with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.” Sirajuddin has been designated a terrorist by the U.S., and the State Division’s Reward for Justice program has supplied $10 million for his arrest.

Sirajuddin notably wrote a February 2020 opinion piece for the New York Occasions titled “What We, the Taliban, Need,” during which he claimed, “Everyone seems to be uninterested in struggle. I’m satisfied that the killing and the maiming should cease.”

The Nationwide Counterterrorism Middle describes the Haqqani Community as a “Sunni Islamist militant group” whose founder was “certainly one of Bin Laden’s closest mentors.” NCTC stated the Haqqanis “are thought-about essentially the most deadly and complicated rebel group focusing on U.S., Coalition, and Afghan forces.”

Sirajuddin is the nephew of Khalil Rahman Haqqani, one other high Taliban determine, who’s now reportedly in command of safety in Kabul. Khalil informed Al-Jazeera that “all Afghans” ought to really feel protected below Taliban rule. The Treasury Division designated Khalil as a world terrorist in 2011, alleging that he was “offering help to al-Qaeda.”

Mohammad Nabi Omari, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was reportedly appointed governor of Khost in Afghanistan. The Lengthy Conflict Journal identified that leaked U.S. paperwork present that he “had sturdy operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia teams together with al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Community, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.”

Biden nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan stated over the weekend, “The Taliban, clearly, to a substantial extent, are built-in with the Haqqani community. Our effort is with the Taliban navy commanders at the moment in command of safety in Kabul.”

Al Qaeda

Biden falsely contended Friday that al Qaeda had been eradicated in Afghanistan, asking, “What curiosity do we’ve got in Afghanistan at this level with al Qaeda gone?”

Al Qaeda maintains a presence in Afghanistan, and it has continued its greater than two-decade alliance with the Taliban after conducting terrorist assaults which killed 3,000 People. The Pentagon admitted in a press convention  Friday afternoon that al Qaeda stays in Afghanistan.

The Division of Treasury inspector normal’s workplace stated in January the Treasury Division “informed us, as of 2020, al Qaeda is gaining power in Afghanistan whereas persevering with to function with the Taliban below the Taliban’s safety” and that al Qaeda “capitalizes on its relationship with the Taliban by way of its community of mentors and advisers who’re embedded with the Taliban.”

A report from the United Nations in June stated al Qaeda was “resident in at the least 15 Afghan provinces” and “below the route of Sheikh Mahmood.” The report added that al Qaeda’s “technique within the close to time period is assessed as sustaining its conventional protected haven in Afghanistan” for its core management.

The report concluded: “The first element of the Taliban in coping with Al-Qaeda is the Haqqani Community. Ties between the 2 teams stay shut, primarily based on ideological alignment, relationships solid by way of widespread wrestle and intermarriage.”

Pentagon inspector normal Sean O’Donnell wrote  in February that “whereas the Taliban opposes and actively fights ISIS members in Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to keep up relations with al Qaeda” and the Protection Intelligence Company reported members “have been built-in into Taliban forces and command constructions.”


Biden stated Friday, “We’re additionally holding an in depth watch on any potential terrorist menace at or across the airport, together with from the ISIS associates in Afghanistan who have been launched from jail when the prisons have been emptied. … ISIS in Afghanistan are the — have been the sworn enemy of the Taliban.”

The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan usually makes an attempt to recruit  Taliban defectors and has clashed with the Taliban prior to now.

The lead inspector normal for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel launched a Might report warning  that ISIS-Okay was strengthening itself in 2021.

“After a string of main defeats and setbacks final yr, ISIS-Okay regained power this quarter. In response to media sources, the group has maintained a gentle operational tempo and retains the flexibility to hold out terrorist assaults in Kabul and different main cities. In response to media reporting, ISIS-Okay has replenished its ranks by interesting to disaffected members of the Taliban,” the watchdog’s Might report stated, including that, in line with the Protection Intelligence Company, “the Biden Administration’s evaluation of the U.S.-Taliban settlement has doubtless had little impression on ISIS-Okay, which continues to oppose the Taliban’s presence. Nevertheless, ISIS-Okay could also be making an attempt to recruit Taliban members disillusioned with the peace course of.”

A report from the U.N. in July stated one member state estimated ISIS-Okay’s power as “between 500 and 1,500 fighters” whereas one other assessed that “it might rise to as many as 10,000 over the medium time period.” The report famous that ISIS-Okay “was largely underground and clandestine” and stated its chief Shahab Muhajir cooperates with Sheikh Tamim, who’s “tasked by ISIS core to supervise the community connecting ISIS-Okay with ISIS presences within the wider area.”

Trio of Has-Beens

A trio of former high Afghan leaders can be making an attempt to insert itself into the Taliban’s authorities creation efforts, apparently in search of roles for themselves.

Hamid Karzai, the previous president of Afghanistan from December 2001 to September 2014, stated final week that he was making a three-man “coordination council” to assist with the formation of a brand new Afghan authorities together with Abdullah Abdullah, who had been chairman of the Excessive Council for Nationwide Reconciliation since 2020, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a primary minister of Afghanistan within the Nineties and the chief of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin political occasion.

Karzai was succeeded by deposed President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan final weekend because the Taliban entered Kabul. Karzai’s greater than a decade in workplace grew to become marred by a troubled and even adversarial relationship with the U.S. and NATO, and Karzai has additionally been broadly accused of corruption whereas in workplace.

Abdullah had been the chief govt of Afghanistan from September 2014 to March 2020. Abdullah tweeted final week, “Together with HE @KarzaiH, we welcomed members of the Taliban political workplace, & negotiation workforce. We exchanged views on the present safety & political developments, & an inclusive political settlement for the way forward for the nation.” Abdullah added : “We met with Mr. Abdul Rahman Mansour, the performing governor of Taliban for Kabul. … Mr. Mansour assured us that he would do all the pieces doable for the safety of the folks of Kabul.”

Abdullah and Karzai additionally reportedly met with Khalil Haqqani, with Abdullah saying Khalil promised to “work exhausting to offer the best safety for the residents of Kabul.”

Hekmatyar, the third member of the Karzai and Abdullah effort, was dubbed the “Butcher of Baghdad” for his function within the destruction of a lot of Kabul and for killing hundreds of civilians there within the Nineties. Hekmatyar beforehand claimed he and his group had helped bin Laden and Zawahri escape from Tora Bora in late 2001.

The State Division stated in 2003 that it “has data indicating that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts dedicated by al-Qaeda and the Taliban.” Hekmatyar reached a peace cope with the Afghan authorities in 2016.

Anti-Taliban Warlords

Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammad Noor have been two of the largest and best-known anti-Taliban and sometimes U.S.-allied warlords in Afghanistan, however they fled the nation for Uzbekistan earlier in August amid the huge Taliban offensive that shortly introduced down the federal government. Noor and Dostum, together with a few of their safety forces, took a freeway throughout the border into Uzbekistan because the Taliban took town of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Anti-Taliban Resistance

A small resistance to Taliban rule has been organized in Afghanistan’s northeast Panjshir Valley by deposed Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and the son of famed Northern Alliance founder Ahmad Shah Massoud — Ahmad Massoud. The resistance teams and Taliban fighters have issued conflicting claims about management of some of the districts in Afghanistan.

Massoud pleaded for assist from the West as he promised to supervise his personal resistance mission almost 20 years after his father was killed by assassins from al Qaeda and the Taliban two days earlier than 9/11.

“I write from the Panjshir Valley as we speak, able to comply with in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who’re ready to as soon as once more tackle the Taliban,” Massoud, chief of the Nationwide Resistance Entrance of Afghanistan, wrote  within the Washington Put up final Wednesday.

Saleh declared himself the president final Tuesday after Ghani fled the nation and informed the New York Occasions, “I, as caretaker president, upholder of the Structure, don’t see the Taliban emirate both as legit or nationwide.”

Saleh’s phrases have been bleak on Monday, when he tweeted : “Talibs aren’t permitting meals & gas to get into Andarab valley. The humanitarian scenario is dire. 1000’s of ladies & youngsters have fled to mountains.”

The U.S. authorities has not proven overt indicators that it’s going to help Saleh or Massoud.

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