ISIS attacks on Afghanistan
The horrific suicide attack on October 8 at a Shiite mosque in the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan during Friday prayers made a deafening impression even on bloodshed Afghans. Nobody knows exactly how many people died, the numbers vary, from 120 to 150 people, about 200 more were injured.
An equally large-scale terrorist attack was committed near the Kabul airport at the end of August, during the notorious panic days of the hasty evacuation of the American military from Afghanistan. Thirteen Americans were killed, the remaining nearly 140 victims were Afghans.
In both cases, ISIS claimed responsibility (banned in the Russian Federation), and in the case of a Shiite mosque, the terrorists even indicated that the explosions were prepared by someone named Mohammad al-Uyguri. The organizers of the terrorist attacks usually do not name the suicide bomber, so there is reason to believe that the ISIS members deliberately sought to point out the Uyghurs acting in their ranks.
If so, the goal of the terrorists was to demonstrate to the Taliban, which came to power in Kabul (banned in Russia), that its flirtation with Beijing would be punished. It is known that a consistent struggle against the Uyghur separatist ISIS members is one of the main conditions for China for the Taliban to gain recognition from Beijing and its financial and economic support. There is another version, as far as conspiracy and so hostile to the Chinese, that they should benefit from the public effect of this tragedy, since it can cause hatred of the Uighurs among Afghans.
How the Taliban and ISIS differ
But few Russians are impressed by the intricacies of the relationship between the two terrorist organizations, the Taliban and ISIS. The main thing that affects the feelings and minds of people when they learn about the next high-profile terrorist attack in Afghanistan is emotions that can be described in two words – mind me! And there is also a deep rejection of the idea that today Russia can help with money “this cannibalistic regime”, meaning the Taliban, with which Moscow is conducting a confidential dialogue.
Indeed, let these terrorists, left to their own devices in Afghanistan, where there are no more foreign troops – neither American, nor European, let alone Russian, destroy each other. After all, this is exactly how some Russian bosses, and after them, analysts and journalists in the mid-2010s, argued that it is necessary to encourage the departure of Islamist radicals to Syria, to the ranks of ISIS, they say, they will grind them there, it will be easier for us here … No, not all were killed. And when the surviving ISIS fighters moved to Afghanistan, it turned out that there are thousands of them, and how many exactly, no one knows, whether 5 thousand, or 10, or maybe even more.
Until mid-2015, it was difficult for an outside observer, and there is no need, to see and understand the difference between these two terrorist “brands”. The main thing is that under their banners, little-visible jihadists fought against the Afghan government in Kabul, as well as against the troops of the international coalition led by the United States. And yet there is a difference, and a very significant one, it is it that determines the shades of attitude towards them from the outside world in general, and Russia, in particular, and it must be said aloud about it again.
If the Taliban are exclusively an intra-Afghan military-political force that does not seek to realize their ambitions outside their country (as evidenced by the movement’s nearly 30-year history), then ISIS is a different matter. Since the inception of this terrorist structure, its programmatic goal was to build a world Islamic caliphate, one of the provinces was designated “Khorasan”, of which the whole of Central Asia and Afghanistan were to become a part.