For immediate release | Thursday, August 6, 2020

ISIS, Al-Qaeda Threaten Afghan Peace Process

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Terror Groups Maintain Presence And Continue Expansion In Afghanistan

(New York, N.Y.) – A recent surge in attacks by ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Afghanistan is demonstrating to western and Afghan forces that the terror groups remain a formidable threat to peace and security in the region. These mounting challenges were on display last week after ISIS mounted a day-long guerilla assault on a Jalalabad prison that allowed 400 prisoners to escape. The recent swell of violence is disproving the notion that the presence of terror groups in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

U.S. officials believe that ISIS is a growing problem in Afghanistan and have expressed concern that if their operations are not curbed that the group could expand their attacks against the West. While U.S. and allied military strikes have been successful in weakening their position in Afghanistan, recent reports indicate that ISIS has nimbly pivoted their recruitment strategies to draw in new support and membership from radicalized Afghans and disaffected Taliban members who are disenfranchised by the government’s peace process negotiations.

In parallel to a burgeoning ISIS threat, al-Qaeda is also purportedly seeking to expand its footprint through its continued provision of support and training to the Taliban. The move towards strengthened ties between the two groups has provoked ire and concern from the U.S. and its regional allies, as it directly violates stipulations of the U.S.-Taliban peace deal signed earlier this year requiring the Taliban break ties with al-Qaeda.

The United Nations released a report in May that seemingly affirms the afore-reporting that the Taliban continues to work closely with al-Qaeda. According to the report, about 400 to 600 armed al-Qaeda operatives are stationed in Afghanistan. The U.N. report claims that the Taliban regularly consulted with al-Qaeda during the peace talks, promising to not break its “historical ties” with al-Qaeda for any price.

A June 2020 op-ed by Counter Extremism Project (CEP) advisory board member Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in the Washington Post points to the potential for these terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a new safe haven to plan attacks against Americans. The departure of U.S. forces from bases in Afghanistan has given rise to concern that the progress made by the largely successful operations carried out against these groups will diminish and result in assured expansion.

To read CEP’s Afghanistan resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s ISIS resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Taliban resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Al-Qaeda resource, please click here.