Thu, 26 May 2022

Washington [US], January 21 (ANI): American intelligence agencies welcome the new year with a new worry that Islamist terror groups based in Afghanistan may be in a position to launch an attack against the United States between six months to a year.

Washington suspects Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, could be able to launch attacks within the first half of the new year. They expect al-Qaeda to reach such a situation in one year or more, according to International Forum for Rights and Security.

Pentagon's policy chief Colin Kahl, who is the defense undersecretary for policy, has been consistently briefing American Senators about this since end of October 2021.

Senators, who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed concern at the hearings but could not elicit confidential details about the developments in Afghanistan.

ISIS-K has around 3,000 fighting members in Afghanistan and they have been on the attack mode since last August. They carried out a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport in which 13 American soldiers died.

However, being able to plan and launch an attack on the US using Afghanistan as a base is quite a complex matter which the organisation is currently trying to resolve as analyzed by International Forum for Rights and Security.

The Pentagon has plans to counter the terror groups and that includes sharing the information with American allies in the Asian region as well as among the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.

On the other hand, US are unsure of the ruling Taliban can indirectly be of any help to them.

Meanwhile, Taliban are internally fighting the ISIS-K and consider the latter their mortal enemy, but it is doubtful of the former have the actual ability to take on the ISIS-K.

The Pentagon is also trying to assess how the al-Qaeda threat to the US can play out under the Taliban rule. The last time they were in power, there was great cooperation between both groups.

Both sides also have family relations with fighters from both groups marrying into each other's families. They have also put up a concerted fight against the nationalist Afghan forces. The Haqqani network too has links to al-Qaeda.

Christine Abizaid, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is quoted explaining the situation: "The group has gained some notoriety in a way that could be quite compelling for them on the transnational stage. At the same time, they're fighting the Taliban. "How that force on force engagement in Afghanistan will go will have some defining characteristics about what the transnational threat looks like."On the other hand, some defense analysts say the ISIS-K's threat to the US is the most potent.

Further, Colin Clarke, senior research fellow at a private intelligence firm, The Soufan Group, says: "Right now, ISIS-K is probably the most capable in terms of orchestrating a plot that could be a viable threat to the U.S. homeland. Other Islamic State group affiliates, including in West Africa and Central Africa, have momentum but are more focused on local issues."The question uppermost in the minds of both Democrats and Republicans after the stunning collapse of the Afghan government before the Taliban onslaught last August is the extent to which the US can maintain pressure on terrorist groups in a country into which it has limited visibility, resolve as analyzed by International Forum for Rights and Security. (ANI)

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