Taliban leaders are divided over the group’s dangerousness. The latter can field 2,000-3,000 fighters (against 100,000 for the Taliban). Meanwhile, the United States, China, Russia and Pakistan are putting pressure on Afghanistan’s new rulers.
A little over a month after their return to power, the Taliban are facing a growing threat from the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghan branch of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) group active in Syria and Iraq.
The terror group is now targeting Taliban leaders using the same urban warfare tactics previously used by the Taliban themselves.
The Taliban, the so-called “students” of God, relied on them to strike at representatives and leaders of the government backed by the international community until the withdrawal of US and NATO forces in August.
The bombing of Kabul airport, carried out while foreign governments were evacuating their staff along with thousands of Afghan collaborators and their families, showed the ISKP’s ability to strike.
More recently, ISKP operatives carried a series of bomb attacks in Jalalabad.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban government, downplayed the danger posed by the local branch of Daesh. However, Reuters reported that Taliban commanders are raising the alarm instead.
While ISKP is not strong enough to seize territory, it can still pose a threat. According to the United Nations, ISKP can muster around 2,000 to 3,000 fighters, compared to 100,000 at the disposal of the Taliban.
The Taliban have repeatedly stated that under their rule Afghanistan will not go back to being a haven for terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Many analysts are sceptical.
Yesterday, after talks with his counterparts from China, Russia and Pakistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there is unity of purpose in exerting pressure on the Taliban, especially to prevent Afghanistan from becoming again a base for terrorist groups.