Joe Biden’s luck just ran out.
The president had been hoping that the Taliban would (please, pretty please!) allow the U.S. to withdraw in peace, if not with a smidgeon of dignity. But ISIS-K, or Islamic State-Khorasan, had other ideas. It’s strongly believed that both the attack at Abbey Gate at the airport and the British evacuation headquarters at the Baron Hotel were carried out by ISIS-K.
Indeed, ISIS-K and the Taliban are mortal enemies — something to do with which brother or son of the Prophet is the true inheritor of Islam. It hardly matters given that both groups are hell-bent on murder and suffering. The attack on the Kabul airport, which has resulted in dozens of casualties, was aimed as much at the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan as it was at the hated Americans.
But certainly, ISIS-K got enormous satisfaction out of kicking America in the ass on our way out the door in Afghanistan.
Instead of massive retaliation, Joe Biden has decided to speed up the evacuation. While leaving Afghanistan is a good idea and long past due, it’s never a good idea to leave under duress. And with the Taliban literally handing us our hats and showing us the door, ISIS took advantage of the chaos to show the world just how much they love killing Westerners.
The threats lay bare a complicated dynamic between the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, and their bitter rival, ISIS-K, in what analysts say portends a bloody struggle involving thousands of foreign fighters on both sides.
A United Nations report in June concluded that 8,000 to 10,000 fighters from Central Asia, the North Caucasus region of Russia, Pakistan and the Xinjiang region in western China have poured into Afghanistan in recent months. Most are associated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the report said, but others are allied with ISIS-K.
“Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of the terrorists, of the radicals and of the extremists,” said Ali Mohammad Ali, a former Afghan security official. “People all over the world, radicals and extremists, are chanting, celebrating the Taliban victory. This is paving the way for other extremists to come to Afghanistan.”
We’ve been leaving Afghanistan for the better part of three years, so why are they celebrating now? It’s the manner of our departure that has the jihadists excited. Our humiliation portends hesitation for the remainder of the Biden administration and represents a clear path forward for the jihadists.
That path will likely include an extremely violent and bloody civil war with ISIS-K lining up against the Taliban and their terrorist allies.
The Taliban and the Haqqani network, a militant group based in Pakistan, are essentially one and the same, terrorism experts say. Siraj Haqqani has been the deputy emir of the Taliban since 2015. In turn, the Haqqanis are close, operationally and ideologically, to Al Qaeda.
“The Taliban, Haqqani network, and Al Qaeda function as a triumvirate, and one that is very much part of the same militant network, they work together hand-in-glove,” said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York.
Radical jihadists from around the world will now descend on Afghanistan. If Biden thinks the U.S. can just keep its head down and avoid the consequences, he is sadly mistaken. The spillover from this conflict will send tremors across the Middle East and result in terror attacks against Western targets. Think al-Qaeda on steroids and you get a sense of the scale of violence that’s coming.
Did it have to be like this? Biden claims it was inevitable once the U.S. decided to pull its military assets out of Afghanistan. But it’s hard to escape the notion that whatever consequences were to come from our Afghanistan exit have been made far worse by Joe Biden’s cowardly and incompetent mismanagement of the withdrawal.