Since the Taliban has taken over the entire country after taking control of an undefeated territory of Panjshir Valley. The risk of resistance and counter attack has not been reduced, to say the least. The Taliban regime has been facing several challenges including food inflation, development, health issues and of course, terrorism by rival militant groups including ISIL – Khurasan Chapter. In his latest statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid stated that the Taliban have rounded up dozens of fighters linked to ISIL and detentions are part of a major security operation launched by the Taliban government in the eastern city of Jalalabad. The offensive campaign comes after a series of attacks claimed by ISIL in Afghanistan. Zabiullah further stated that the very offensive is an extension of a security operation against ISIL in the capital Kabul. When they took over the country last month, some ‘few’ ISIL operatives in Afghanistan moved to Kabul and Jalalabad. In response Taliban launched an operation in Kabul and arrested many.
Another operation is underway in Jalalabad, they are hunting down those who were sowing chaos and those who were behind the recent attacks. It has been revealed that they have caught dozens so far. What more do we know about this operation and it’s aims? This is an operation that aims to contain the rise of those attacks that have been carried out over the last few days, basically, highlighting dozens of attacks particularly in Jalalabad which has become the focal point of the ISIL- Khurasan Chapter. A major ISIL affiliate operating in Afghanistan have proclaimed responsibility for most of the attacks and vowed to continue the fight against the Taliban.
They consider Taliban to be the enemies of Islam and commit that they will hold ground and continue to spread their ideology across the country. It is quite interesting what is happening and how dynamics of powers have been struggling to change shifts. It has been reported that as the night falls, the Taliban fighters set up major checkpoints across the city of Kabul as they seem to be pretty much concerned about ISIL cells operating in the country and they would definitely prefer to get hold of every point before another major blast or suicide bombing attack takes place, that too, already anticipated.
The Taliban spokesperson said that over the last few days the Taliban have managed to arrest more than 33 ISIL operatives in Jalalabad. The question remains the same, whether international community and the Afghan people will witness another bloodshed.
The Taliban are relying on their intelligence institution which has just been established in the country and that they are aiming to get hold of most of the networks operating in Jalalabad. But the Taliban needs to register the fact that this is beginning of a new chapter and seems like they are determined to clamp down and eradicate ISIL. It is a quite delicate
moment for the Taliban because the day they came to power last month, it was officially stated that that one of their major assets is restoring stability and security in the country. if a major attack is witnessed in the capital Kabul, it is going to be a major event and a blow of their reputation, eagerly observed by many watchdogs and stakeholders. It is claimed that no one, including Taliban, have any exact estimates about the numbers of the ISIL fighters operating in Afghanistan.
Few reports suggest that there are more than a thousand fighters. Taliban sources further revealed that a hundred fighters are based in Jalalabad and some of them are those die-hard fighters who managed to escape from major prisons during the early days of Taliban takeover as the latter announced general amnesty across the country. The situation in southern part of the country following the Taliban takeover, hovers with the concern that those who were freed from prisons include highly trained people who were with the view from 2015, when the ISIL was established in Afghanistan, that they would like to implement their own version of Sharia Law in Afghanistan adding that they are pledging allegiance to the ISIL based in Syria and Iraq. The question still rises if the Taliban would be able to defeat them.
This is going to be the biggest challenge for the Taliban because when they signed the peace deal with the Americans in Doha in 2020, one of the prerequisites for the deal was to prevent ISIL from using Afghan soil as a launching pad for possible attacks targeting the US or Europe. The Taliban seemed to be confident that with the upcoming days, they will be able to deploy many fighters and soldiers including their battery units which is the elite force unit namely Badri 313, along with the intelligence apparatus to be able to prevent ISIL operatives to dominate hold. This seems a possibility that the US and Taliban might have or could collaborate to fight against ISIL in Afghanistan.
Also, Al-Qaeda affiliate here in Afghanistan. Taliban categorically stated that they are confident that most of the foreign fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda fled Afghanistan. Those who are remaining is the Afghan fraction who embrace the very ideology of Al-Qaeda. Not to forget that in the past, Al-Qaeda and Taliban have been very close to each other, despite differences they have been witnessed fighting against the US. Ahmad Shah Massoud’s death is one prominent example of how Al-Qaeda sent two ‘reporters’ to record his interview which proved to be his last. Considering Al-Qaeda to be one major threat to Taliban is certainly not a very practical approach towards the political canvas.
It is quite interesting that a few years ago, for the Americans, Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIL were just different sides of the same approach, which is the urge to clamp down on radical ideology. Today, the Taliban find themselves on a collision course with ISIL and related resistances. It they manage to control them, contain them, or defeat them that could be quite important on diplomatic front as it could pave the way for the international recognition of the Taliban and for the Biden administration to have unfreeze the Afghan assets which still are frozen by the American administration.