Balwan Nagial
Balwan Nagial

Afghanistan: Promise Turned into Tragedy

On Aug. 26 2021, powerful explosions rocked near the Abbey gate at Kabul in Afghanistan. This terrorist attack resulted in the killings of 13 US service members, injured 18 Americans and killed more than 60 Afghan people. This terrorist attack occurred when a meeting between Afghans and Americans was going on in the hotel near the Hamid Karzai international airport. Since early 2020 this was the deadliest attack on American soldiers.

The US’s 31st Aug deadline to leave Afghanistan neared, the Afghans, and the US citizens are trying to flee the country amidst a clampdown by the newly victorious Taliban. For the last few days, huge crowds congregated at all hours to push themselves and their families toward the dun-coloured gap in the blast walls, waving their papers and trying to get onto the airport grounds. A few paddled through a sewage laden canal to make it to the gate, dreadfully chasing the promise of escape. In one horrific incident, a  man wearing an Afghan national soccer team shirt drifted in the canal that runs along the road to the gate, next to the small body of a boy, both heads in a waterlogged canal.

The attacks smeared the most horrific and humiliating moment yet in the endgame of America’s two decades war in Afghanistan. For the Afghan people who had come to the gate in spite of cautions of a possible attack by the regional branch of the Islamic State, a sworn enemy of the Taliban, the carnage indicated that violence would continue in the country after the US-led forces exit. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Khorasan Province) is a self-styled offshoot of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant active in South Asia and Central Asia, though ISIL denies any connection. A few media sources also use the terms ISK, ISISK, IS–KP, ISIS–K or Daesh, Khorasan in mentioning to the group

Americans faced their own possible threat. No American service members had died in Afghanistan since early 2020, and the deaths of more than a dozen raised the possibility that instability and danger might once again emanate from the country, two decades after the US went in to rid it of global terrorism.

Deadly attacks at Kabul airport threw evacuation efforts in chaos and confusion and accelerated the end of evacuations of Afghan civilians. Now only people who are currently inside the airport will be placed on the remaining flights. These attacks left thousands of Afghans at risk to flee by land routes which are risky and dangerous. There is an urgent need to protect at-risk civilians in Afghanistan and for this, a global refuge resettlement plan for Afghan people is needed on priority.

The US president Joe Biden held ISIS-K responsible, for the intimidations, saying he’s been in constant touch with the US military commanders in Afghanistan and Doha and that U.S. intelligence officers had suspected the individuals who undertook this attack. The US president pledged to do justice to the terrorists who attacked. Nevertheless, the fact that US officials accept as true the attack was launched by an off-shoot of the bloodstained extremist group that on one occasion occupied a large area of northern parts of Iraq and Syria, this definitely highlights the dangers emerging in Afghanistan and its impact on neighbouring countries including India. Also with Biden cautioning that more ISIS-K attacks might be on the way, the threat to US troops, Americans and other foreigners, and most of all Afghans themselves, may only grow as the two-decade war on terror comes to a dissenting close by the end of this month.

As per the UN sources, ISIL Khorasan (ISIL – K) proclaimed its establishment on January 10, 2015, through an internet video. Probably this group is led by an ex Tehrik-e Taliban leader and was set up by the former Taliban breakaway faction commanders who extended an oath of allegiance to ISIL leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On January 26, 2015 ISIL spokesperson Abou Mohamed al Adnani announced ISIL’s growth into the area in history known as Khorasan. By recognising the ISIL – K’s leader’s pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi and asserting the claim of al-Baghdadi that he has been appointed as governor of the Khorasan Province.

Khorasan is also transliterated as Khurasan and Khorassan, as well called Traxiane during Hellenistic and Parthian periods, was an area in northeastern Iran but in history denoted to a much wider area, encompassing the east and the northeast of the old Persian Empire. The term Khorāsān is Persian and denoted the area ‘where the sun arrives from’. The first time the name was pronounced to the eastern province of Persia probably all through the Sasanian Empire and was used from the late middle ages in contrast to neighbouring Transoxiana.

In this jurisdiction, people are mostly Shia Muslims, approximately incorporated the western part of the historical Greater Khorasan. The contemporary boundaries of the Iranian province of Khorasan were formally demarcated in the late nineteenth century and the province was divided into three separate administrative divisions in 2004 ie Northen Khorshan, Southern Khorshan and Razavi Khorasan.

The threat of ISIS-K. In the past, the ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for many recent high-profile attacks, including the complex assault on Jalalabad City prison on 2 August, the attack on Kabul University on 2 November, the firing of rockets on Kabul on 21 November and the killing of an Afghan journalist in Nangarhar Province on 10 December. More than 600 Afghan civilians and 2,500 ANDSF personnel have been killed in attacks since 29 February 2020. Afghanistan remains the Member State worst affected by terrorism in the world.

The Taliban and ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, are sworn, enemies. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in Kabul. ISIS-K will definitely make attempts to corrode the Taliban’s governance and attack the Taliban’s religious legality on the ground. The Taliban and ISIS-K are sworn enemies and have been fighting for years. ISIS-K views the Taliban as apostates, and not devout enough in terms of its approach to Islam. The group’s leaders denounced the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Along these lines, ISIS-K has an interest in conducting attacks that would induce chaos, embarrass the Taliban, and make it impossible for the terrorist group to consolidate its grip over Afghanistan.

Conclusion: This terrorist attack on Kabul airport is amidst a scramble to withdraw. Thousands of people are being evacuated from Afghanistan. The first time the US soldiers have been since Feb 2020 after signing the peace between the US and Taliban. President Biden has decided to take tough actions against the ISIS-K  which claims responsibility and to continue the evacuation at least until the August 31 troop-withdrawal deadline.

Afghanistan may perhaps once again become a source for terrorism, providing shelter for the extremists’ groups. The Taliban have at no time wrecked their association with al-Qaeda for the last two decades in spite of military pressure and two years of negotiations in Qatar.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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