Kabul / Berlin / Washington (dpa) – Thousands of people seeking protection, crowded at the gates of Kabul airport. American soldiers secure the airport. Chaos at the gates that makes effective security almost impossible.
For days, there were exceptionally concrete warnings that the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia could plan an attack in this explosive situation. “We know that terrorist threats have intensified massively, that they have become much more specific,” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday. Hours later, the warnings become a deadly reality.
ISIS suicide bombers blew themselves up
According to the US Department of Defense, two IS suicide bombers blew themselves up, followed by terrorist militia fighters. Dozens of people are killed, including at least American soldiers – the first since February last year to be violently killed in Afghanistan. The American broadcaster CNN is showing on television images of Afghans soaked in blood brought to safety by helpers on wheelbarrows.
The Taliban won the war after 20 years, the West is withdrawing. However, this does not mean the end of the violence for the Afghans. “A pool of blood. Corpses in a sewer. Afghanistan continues to bleed. Families destroyed. Endless tragedy for the Afghan people, ”Sarwary wrote of a terrible cell phone video he shared on Twitter after the attack.
The bloodbath takes place as the Kabul evacuation mission draws to a close. As of next Tuesday, the United States wants to have withdrawn all the soldiers from Afghanistan. The last evacuation flights planned by the German armed forces left Kabul shortly before the attack. The US armed forces stressed on Thursday that they would not let ISIS stop them from carrying out their mission as planned.
IS-Khorasan claims bloody act for himself
Hours after the bloody act, IS-Khorasan – the local branch of the terrorist militia – claimed responsibility for the airport attack for itself. IS calls the region “Khorasan Province,” which includes both Afghan and Pakistani territory. Americans – who speak of Isis instead of IS – therefore call the branch Isis-K. Taliban Islamist militants are not radical enough for IS fighters in Afghanistan. The two groups are enemies and have fought openly in the past. ISIS has repeatedly carried out serious attacks in Afghanistan.
Thursday’s attack is a message to the world, but also an embarrassment for the Taliban, who were unable to provide security in the capital after coming to power. The US armed forces do not believe that the Islamist Taliban militants had anything to do with it. The Taliban also wanted foreign troops to leave the country by Aug.31, said US General Kenneth McKenzie, who heads US Central Command Centcom, after the attack. “So we share a common goal.” A Taliban spokesman said Thursday: “We condemn this horrific incident in the strongest terms and will do our utmost to bring those responsible to justice.”
Additional humiliation for the West
The attack is also another humiliation for the West: after 20 years of service, the Afghan soldiers and their helpers are not even safe when they leave. This makes the failure in Afghanistan, the first theater of the “war on terror” proclaimed by US President George W. Bush after the attacks of September 11, 2001, all the more bitter. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ordered the terrorist attacks from Afghanistan, which led to US military intervention and the overthrow of the Taliban. The Taliban and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network is the story of a long and close partnership.
The Taliban victory is also a subsequent triumph for al-Qaeda, just before the 20th anniversary of the attacks. “From an organization’s point of view, this proves that its strategy has worked,” said Guido Steinberg, terrorism expert at the Berlin-based Foundation for Science and Policy (SWP). “Al-Qaida took power with the Taliban.”
Al-Qaeda has not yet disappeared from Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden justifies the withdrawal from Afghanistan primarily on the basis that Al Qaeda no longer threatens the United States from there. But the Afghan terrorist network has not disappeared. A report released in June by the UN Security Council said al Qaeda was still present in at least 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. “The Taliban are still closely linked to Al Qaeda and show no signs of breaking off relations. A significant part of the organization’s leadership is in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan – and strives to preserve its “safe haven”.
Experts see the Taliban’s advance as a huge propaganda success for the jihadist movement around the world. The supporters of radical and violent groups feel confirmed in their conviction that they will be victorious over the “infidels” in the West if they persevere long enough. “It is a red flag for the global jihadist movement,” warns Steinberg.
The Taliban say they will not allow Al Qaeda or any other group to launch attacks from Afghanistan. How credible is this commitment? It is currently difficult for the terrorist network to carry out attacks outside the region, says Steinberg. For him, a scenario is also conceivable in which the Taliban tries to stop the attacks abroad. According to Steinberg, however, this does not mean that everything is clear: “Even if the Taliban generally acts moderately, there is a growing risk that the more radical will not adhere to the directives,” he said. After all, there is a strong jihadist current within the Taliban. Their objective is clear: they want to take their fight to other regions of the world.