(New York, N.Y.) — On Thursday, Counter Extremism Project (CEP) CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and CEP President Frances F. Townsend released the following joint statement after two explosions outside of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport killed at least 90 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. ISIS’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attacks on the airport, which has been a crucial point of departure for Americans and Afghan allies seeking to leave the Taliban-controlled country:
“Our sympathies go out to all the U.S. servicemembers, allies, and civilians facing an increasing and deadly terrorist threat. Sadly, we fear this is just the beginning. Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan will inevitably become a breeding ground for Islamist terrorism and a haven from which attacks can be launched against western targets. The Taliban’s claims at ‘moderation’ and capacity to create a safer, better life for Afghans cannot be trusted. Moreover, these latest attacks clearly show that the Taliban is in no position to provide security for the people of Afghanistan.
“U.S. President Joe Biden should take immediate action to secure the airport, protect Americans at risk of being stranded in the country, and ensure safe passage for our Afghan partners hoping to escape. Further, President Biden should discard his self-imposed August 31 withdrawal deadline, whether the Taliban approves or not, to ensure the satefy and security of Americans and our allies.”
On August 6, 2021, the Taliban began an offensive against major Afghan cities with the seizure of Zaranj, capital of Nimruz province. By August 13, the Taliban controlled 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and more than two-thirds of the country. As Taliban fighters entered Kabul on August 15, President Ghani fled Afghanistan, with thousands of Afghans pouring into Kabul airport in an attempt to escape. By August 16, the Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace and took complete control of Kabul, after which the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan had ended.
The U.S. government remains committed to full withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021. However, the evacuation of American citizens, U.S. personnel, and highly vulnerable Afghans has been chaotic, particularly as ISIS-K poses an additional threat to evacuations. According to reports from U.S. intelligence and military officials, as the Biden administration attempts to evacuate American citizens and U.S. personnel from Afghanistan, ISIS-K will likely seek to exploit the security vacuum in the country and plot attacks against American targets.
To read CEP’s Afghanistan resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Taliban resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s ISIS resource, please click here.