Sunday, July 26, 2015

ISIS in Afghanistan

Almost every one's favorite topic lately is the threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Some critics say that the threat is over-exaggerated while others see potential for some big problems ahead. It is hard to figure out the real story from unclassified news sources but sometimes it makes for interesting reading. As an example - a recent news story from Overt Action suggests that the Taliban is providing the intelligence for the U.S. to target ISIS in Afghanistan from the air using armed drones. Read more in "Who is Providing America the Intelligence Needed to Target ISIS . . . in Afghanistan", July 20, 2015.

Campbell on ISIS. On another note, the head of the Resolute Support mission, General John Campbell, says the threat of ISIS in Afghanistan could delay the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan (, Jul 20, 2015). See also "Islamic State could trip up U.S. plans to leave Afghanistan", Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2015. General Campbell recently held an emergency meeting with President Ghani on the ISIS threat.

Ghani and ISIS. General Campbell says that President Ghani is concerned about ISIS and is in favor of a partnership with the U.S. on counterterrorism. Campbell says that the ISIL threat is ". . .probably operationally emergent . . . ".  (DoD News, Jul 19, 2015).

U.S. in Search of ISIS Strategy. It is readily apparent to any casual observer that the United States strategy of confronting ISIS in Iraq and Syria is muddled and ineffective. A growing concern is the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan. Recently the head of Hezbi-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has instructed his followers to start supporting ISIS. So it appears that ISIS in Afghanistan is becoming a major concern for the Afghan government as well as the international forces (Resolute Support) that are propping up the Afghan military and government. While ISIS in Afghanistan has suffered some leadership losses in the form of U.S. airstrikes (and drone attacks) it is a hard learned lesson that airstrikes alone do not win a counterinsurgency effort. So one wonders what the U.S. strategy for ISIS in Afghanistan will look like in the months ahead. Read more in a news report by The Independent, July 23, 2015.

Jihadology Podcast. Don Rassler, of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, was interviewed by the team at Lawfare Blog on the emergence of the Islamic State in AfPak on July 21st and July 23rd. You can listen to part one and part two on the Lawfare Blog website.

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