‘A strange world’: US, Taliban team up to battle ISIS-K in Afghanistan

It appears the U.S. is taking an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” approach to counterterrorism in Afghanistan, which, since the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal in 2021, has become a haven for ISIS-K.

The Taliban government, according to a senior U.S. defense official, is openly warring with ISIS-K (Islamic State-Khorasan), and that makes the Taliban our unlikely ally.

In response to ISIS-K attacks on ethnic minorities and government institutions, the Taliban has hit Islamic State hideouts, the official told The Washington Post.

“I would never want to say that we had mortgaged our counterterrorism to a group like the Taliban, but it’s a fact that, operationally, they put pressure on ISIS-K,” the official said. “In a strange world, we have mutually beneficial objectives there.”

A leaked Pentagon assessment — part of the classified documents allegedly posted on Discord by Air National Guard member Jack Teixeria — revealed that Afghanistan has once again become a staging ground for potential attacks on America, Europe, and Asia,

The Post reports:

The attack planning, detailed in U.S. intelligence findings leaked on the Discord messaging platform and obtained by The Washington Post, reveal specific efforts to target embassies, churches, business centers and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, which drew more than 2 million spectators last summer in Qatar. Pentagon officials were aware in December of nine such plots coordinated by ISIS leaders in Afghanistan, and the number rose to 15 by February, says the assessment, which has not been disclosed previously.


Though the assessment was labeled top-secret and carried the logos of several Defense Department organizations, the White House has declined to verify its authenticity.

If it is authentic, its contents are chilling.

“ISIS has been developing a cost-effective model for external operations that relies on resources from outside Afghanistan, operatives in target countries, and extensive facilitation networks,” the assessment warns. “The model will likely enable ISIS to overcome obstacles — such as competent security services — and reduce some plot timelines, minimizing disruption opportunities.”

According to The Post, “Other reports in the same documents trove reveal persistent efforts by the Islamic State in other parts of the world to obtain expertise for creating chemical weapons and operating drone aircraft, and a plot in which the group’s supporters would kidnap Iraqi diplomats in Belgium or France in a bid to secure the release of 4,000 imprisoned militants.”

The senior official, who noted that Islamic State plots often never come to fruition, remarked, “We see a lot of discussion and not a lot of action at this point.”

But the assessment tracks with previous warnings.

“Other current and former U.S. officials, while declining to comment on the specifics of the classified documents, said the reports appear to bear out previous warnings about the potential for a terrorist resurgence in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal,” The Post reports.

According to Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism under former President Donald Trump, “ISIS-K has enjoyed safe haven in Afghanistan since the administration withdrew 20 months ago.”

Campaigns thus far have focused on attacking Afghans, Sales said, but ISIS-K “has the ambition to attack American interests in the region and, ultimately, the U.S. homeland itself.”

Melissa Fine


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