After the fall of the republic government, Afghanistan has been the focus of discussions and contradictory behaviors of global and regional powers. Russia, as a regional ally of the Taliban regime, after a year and two months of interaction with this group, has now expressed its concern about the bad security situation in Afghanistan and the threats that are coming from the country to Central Asia. High-ranking Russian officials have announced the presence of 20 terrorist groups with 10,000 fighters in Afghanistan, and claim that the disastrous situation in Afghanistan has attracted terrorists and facilitated a safe environment for extremism in the region. Tajikistan, on the other hand, has announced that the Taliban has distributed over 3,000 Afghan passports to terrorist groups. This country has demanded the establishment of a security belt along Central Asia’s borders with Afghanistan. The scope of these concerns has expanded while the activity of the ISIS group under the control of the Taliban is increasing day by day.
On Wednesday, October 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the 50th meeting of senior security and intelligence officials of the Commonwealth of Independent States, called the threats of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups from Afghanistan unprecedented. According to him, these countries have never faced such widespread threats. In this meeting, Putin emphasized that ISIS and other terrorist organizations are trying to enter the independent countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States through Afghanistan.
The President of Russia emphasizes that the concentration of terrorist groups on the border of Afghanistan with the countries of Central Asia has increased possible risks, including their entry and penetration into the countries of the region. Putin has also called for a common fight between the independent countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States against these groups. According to him, to achieve peace and stability in the region, it is essential to increase the capability to confront terrorist organizations at the borders with all available forces, equipment, and knowledge from these nations.
Oleg Syromolotov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, says that more than 20 terrorist groups with 10,000 fighters are operating in Afghanistan. He adds that the disastrous social and economic situation in Afghanistan has attracted terrorists and facilitated extremism in this country. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia notes that his country is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. Although he did not name these groups, according to reports, the Al-Qaeda network, ISIS, Jamaat Ansarullah, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Caucasus Emirate are among the groups that are with the Taliban fighters.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia adds that terrorists receive financial support from sources outside of Afghanistan, though he did not mention any particular country or organization. He accuses the United States of America and its allies of being involved in the instability of Afghanistan and the borders of Central Asian countries, and adds: “Arms and ammunition left over from NATO military forces in Afghanistan have been used by terrorist groups.” But he emphasizes, that since Afghanistan is a potential source of terrorist activities, Russia will continue to be in contact with the Taliban. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia asks the Taliban to fulfill their commitments to form an inclusive government, fight against terrorism and drugs, and respect human rights in Afghanistan.
This is even though on Tuesday, October 18, at the conference “International and Regional Border Security and Management Cooperation to Counter Terrorism and Prevent the Movement of Terrorists” held in Tajikistan’s capital, Emomali Rahmon, the President of Tajikistan, called for the establishment of a “security belt” along Central Asia’s borders with Afghanistan.
The president of Tajikistan has emphasized in this meeting that the terrorists have moved to the borders of Central Asia using the name of organizations that help “immigrants and asylum seekers”, and in this way, they want to infiltrate these countries. Referring to the “security belt”, he states that his country has established 175 checkpoints along the border with Afghanistan in the past two years and plans to establish another 300 checkpoints. Mr. Rahmon earnestly asks the countries of Central Asia to reduce terrorist threats in Central Asia by implementing Tajikistan’s initiative. He also added in this meeting that currently around 10,000 “mujahid and suicide bombers” are being trained in Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Tajikistan’s Minister of Interior, Ramzan Rahimzadeh, stated on Wednesday, October 19, the second day of this conference, that the Taliban issued passports to over three thousand members of “terrorist groups” in the previous year. In this meeting, he emphasized that the situation confirms the Taliban regime’s danger to the region. Rahimzadeh asked the participants of this meeting to focus on Afghanistan. Before him, Masoud Andrabi, the Minister of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the previous government, had also tweeted that the Taliban had given Afghan passports and NICs [Takira] to members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to hide their ties with terrorist groups.
Tajikistan’s concern is growing that the Taliban have forcibly displaced hundreds of indigenous people from beyond the Kokcha River on the border of Central Asian countries. According to the claims of local sources, instead of residents, the Taliban have moved Pakistani nomads and immigrants to the homes of residents in some areas of the Khaja Bahawudin and Dasht-e Qala districts of Takhar province. On the other hand, the activities of the ISIS group in Afghanistan are expanding day by day. This group recently targeted the vehicle carrying the military forces of the Taliban in Herat province last Thursday. As a result of this attack, at least two members of the Taliban group were killed and several others were injured. On September 30, a suicide attack on the Kaaj Educational Training Center in the west of Kabul left dozens dead and injured. The Taliban also attributed this attack to the ISIS group. additionally, the explosion near the Russian embassy in Kabul has also been attributed to the ISIS group by the Taliban.
However, Russia’s concerns are growing as Pakistan, another supporter of the Taliban has also expressed concern about Afghanistan becoming a haven for terrorists. Previously, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while speaking at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, called Afghanistan a haven for terrorists.
Iran, a country bordering Afghanistan, was also attacked by ISIS last week. “Al-Naba” weekly newspaper, one of the publishing organs of the ISIS group, has taken responsibility for the attack on the mosque of Hazrat Ahmed ibn-e Musa in Shiraz city, Iran. The report of this weekly newspaper states: “In a new incident, the Islamic State [ISIS] targeted the magi inside a polytheistic shrine in Iran, and one of the Mujahideen of the ISIS opened fire inside the shrine, leaving dozens dead and wounded.” According to reports, as a result of this attack, 20 people were killed and 40 others were injured.
Before this, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan has also announced many times that under the rule of the Taliban, Afghanistan has become a haven for foreign terrorists. According to this front, if the world does not pay attention to this, another incident like the attacks of September 11, 2001, will happen.
Before Russia expressed concern about the presence of terrorist groups on Afghan soil, US President Joe Biden stated on Wednesday, October 12, during the release of the US National Security Strategy document, that Afghanistan will not be a haven for terrorists planning terrorist attacks against America and its allies. He said, since the threats have become serious, the anti-terrorism approaches of the United States have also changed.
In the new US security strategy document, it is stated that this country is confident in its ability to maintain the fight against Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups from the skies; Because America has used this method and killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Kabul. In this document, it is also pointed out that today’s terrorist threat is ideologically more diverse and scattered than when Washington started the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Russia and the countries of Central Asia are concerned about the escalation of threats on the borders of Afghanistan, as there have been several rocket attacks from Afghanistan on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. And ISIS has accepted responsibility for these attacks.
Tajikistan has been attacked by ISIS rockets only once. This group announced a missile attack on Tajik territory from Takhar Province by publishing a videotape in May of this year. By releasing this videotape, ISIS claimed that it attacked military targets in Tajikistan. A video posted on the Amaq website, affiliated with ISIS, shows that a missile was fired from an unknown area. Afghan media had reported at that time that this missile was fired from the Khajaghaar district of Takhar province. At that time, Tajik media quoted security officials as saying that four BM1 rockets had been fired from Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan has been attacked three times by missiles from Afghanistan. The Khorasan branch of ISIS has taken responsibility for all these attacks.
The first rocket attack from Afghanistan on Uzbekistan took place at the end of April this year. According to reports, in this attack, 10 Katyusha rockets, which are a type of multiple rocket launcher, were fired from the Sarchah area in the commercial town of Hairatan port towards the territory of Uzbekistan. The second rocket attack from Afghanistan on Uzbekistan took place in the middle of July this year. The media announced that five missiles were launched from the territory of Afghanistan to the Majnoontal area of the Surxondaryo Region of Uzbekistan. The third rocket attack from Afghanistan on Uzbekistan took place at the end of July this year.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, described the revival of terrorism in Afghanistan as a growing threat to the peace and security of the world. He stated these concerns on Tuesday, May 10, at the “High-Level International Conference on Human Rights, Civil Society and Counter-Terrorism” in Malaga, Spain.
Contrastingly, the Taliban claim that they have destroyed ISIS in Afghanistan, but this group has been responsible for deadly and bloody attacks in the past year, which have killed and injured hundreds of people. The Taliban still claims to have severed ties with al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups, but Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the al-Qaeda network, was killed by an American drone strike in Kabul on August 1 of this year. He was a guest of the Taliban, sources claim. The Taliban have consistently denied the presence of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The high-ranking officials of this group say that there will be no security threats to neighboring countries and the world from Afghanistan.
Amin Kawa-Senior Reporter and Analyst, Hasht-e Subh Daily