On September 23, 2021, CEP hosted a webinar to discuss challenges emanating from Afghanistan and how the evolving situation may impact security and the terrorism threat in Europe.
Even before the recent developments in Afghanistan, the global terrorism threat had become multifaceted and more complex. The international terror networks of al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates remained resilient—resisting sustained pressure in many regions of the world and even developing new structures in Africa. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan now presents a further shift in this threat environment with multiple emerging security challenges.
The Taliban’s symbiotic relationship with al-Qaeda, sustained over the last 20 years, calls into question their ability and willingness to control al-Qaeda-linked structures and fighters in Afghanistan. ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan stands ready to receive disgruntled Taliban members, with the August 26 attack on Kabul airport demonstrating ISIS-K’s destructive power. Terrorist sympathizers online have been celebrating what they perceive to be a victory of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, raising the specter that Afghanistan could become again a magnet and safe harbor for aspiring terrorists.
In addition to their connection to violence and terrorism, the Taliban are also a large-scale, multifaceted criminal enterprise, responsible for the production of the majority of opium and heroin worldwide, most of it flowing to Europe, Russia, Asia, and Africa. The international drug trade has been the Taliban’s main income stream since the movement’s inception, offering little hope that drug production in Afghanistan will reduce in the near future.
Moderator and introductory remarks: Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at CEP
-Amb. Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator of the ISIL, al-Qaida and Taliban Monitoring Team, United Nations Security Council
-Sofia Koller, research fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
-Dr. Guido Steinberg, senior fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)