Policy Brief: Islamist Groups Thriving In Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan

(New York, N.Y.) — This week, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) published a joint policy brief with the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Security Risks Emanating From Afghanistan – Assessing The Islamist Terror Threat Post-August 2021, exploring the threats to regional stability and European Union (EU) nations resulting from Islamist groups in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The report’s authors, CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler and CEP Senior Adviser Lucinda Creighton, find that despite the Taliban’s claims following its takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 that it “does not want to have any problem with the international community,” the symbiotic relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates as well as growing influence from other Islamist terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), among others, have had destabilizing effects on Afghanistan and its neighbors.

These effects have both regional and global implications. For example, the Taliban’s acceptance of the TTP is highly problematic for Pakistan, and the group’s acceptance of ETIM is an issue for China. For Iran, there are concerns of proliferation of Sunni extremist groups along the border, while West Africa has seen the impact of an increase in Taliban-supported al-Qaeda affiliates.

The brief also highlights extremely concerning media reports about the Taliban issuing Afghan passports with false identities to members of terrorist groups operating in the country, allowing for travel outside of Afghanistan and frustrating the efforts of foreign intelligence agencies in tracing their movements.

Despite mounting concerns and a recent Taliban decree banning Afghan women from working for the U.N., U.N. officials seem to have softened their position on the Taliban, most recently conducting a two-day closed door meeting in Qatar to “achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban.”

To mitigate the threat, the CEP-EUISS Brief calls on the EU to increase the number of Counter Terrorism Experts on the ground in Kabul and utilize information resources at its disposal, including reports furnished by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), to monitor activities that pose threats to EU citizens.

To read the full CEP-EUISS Brief, Security Risks Emanating From Afghanistan – Assessing The Islamist Terror Threat Post-August 2021, please click here.

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On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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