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The relationship between the Islamic extremist groups operating in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Material posted: Publication date: 16-11-2018

The modern realities of the development of the military-political situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA) continues to remain challenging, despite the significant and long-term presence of military contingents of the USA and its allies. With each passing year becomes more and more tense, the situation in the country is characterized by increasing instability, as well as the increase of the territories under the control of various terrorist groups.

Afghanistan holds an important geographical position in the South-Western part of Central Asia, in these circumstances, he has for centuries been the scene of great attention on the part of great conquerors and neighboring States. In the 18th and 19th centuries on its territory there were a number of feudal lords led by a specific independent feudal principalities constantly warring and fought among themselves. Gradually, they began to unite, forming the end of the 19th century a unified Afghan state. In 1919 after the third Anglo-Afghan war, Afghanistan gained independence. Continuing the military-geographic analysis of the country it should be noted that from a geopolitical point of view Afghanistan is located in the middle East. The country has no outlet to the sea. The shortest distance from its borders to the Arabian sea about 500 km, an Area equal to 655 thousand km, approximately the size of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark combined. The state border of Afghanistan has a total length of 5579 km, of which 2384 (over 40%) are in the CIS States (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan). In the West, Afghanistan shares borders with the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the South and East with Pakistan, India, China [1].

 

Currently in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan observed the lack of a single extremist underground. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in an interview to one Western publication declared that in the country there are about twenty of extremist armed groups [2].

Although the identity of the methods, structure, control system and the ultimate goal of terrorist groups is different. Concentration in Afghanistan the number of terrorist groups lead to protracted instability not only in the IRA, but in the entire Central Asian region.

In the case of aggravation of the situation, Afghanistan can become a new foothold for insurgents "Islamic state". In this situation we can not exclude the possibility of incursions by militant groups from the territory of the IRA in neighbouring countries to the Russian Federation with allies in the CSTO.

Analyzing the current military-political situation in Afghanistan, we can distinguish three main and most dangerous of Islamist groups, namely:

1) "Velayat Khorasan" – branch of the international terrorist organization "Islamic state" (IG).

2) "the Islamic movement "Taliban" – mostly national-Pashtun organization, which is based on the ideology of deobandism (fundamental direction of Sunni Islam). [3]

3) "the Haqqani Network" is a terrorist group with experience in subversive struggle since the armed confrontation of the Limited contingent of Soviet troops in Afghanistan (OKSVA).

You can also note the party "Hizb-I-Islami" and the international terrorist organization "al-Qaeda", but at the moment they are not particularly active and do not represent the threats as "Hizb-I-Islami" in 2016 signed with the government of Afghanistan peace Treaty, and "al-Qaeda" reduces its activity with the increasing of the group "Vilayat Khorasan".

In connection with lesions of the middle East, the militants are forced to seek alternate bridgeheads, with the purpose of replenishment of human resources, regroup and consolidate on the territory of the IRA. So, 2014 marks a special the rise of radical Islamist groups "Velayat Khorasan".

According to the statements of the leaders of the Islamic state, the organization's main aim is to overthrow secular regimes in Islamic countries and in the so-called "Caliphate" based on Sharia system of government. The re-establishment of the Caliphate – led by caliphs that combines unlimited Supreme spiritual and temporal power, has long been a target of Islamists in many countries. [4]

In 2014, the Internet portals of the terrorist organization even posted a map of the future borders of the "Caliphate". The international terrorist organization ISIS was planning to include in its membership not only the territory of the former Arab Caliphate, but a number of Balkan States, large areas in the middle East, Central Africa and Asia.

Fig.1 the Future boundaries of pseudohalide in the view of ISIS militants

While the jihadists claim that building a system of government on the model of the Caliphate that existed during the "four righteous caliphs". Capitalizing on the sense of religious solidarity and historical memory of Muslims, the ISIS ' leaders stress that their armed struggle to restore historical justice.

According to some estimates, these actions to create a "replacement" base in the Afghan-Pakistani area are supported by NATO and the United States. So, in November of 2017 military transport aircraft of the United States from Iraq at a NATO base near the city of Jalalabad of Nangarhar province was delivered to 200 of the militants who fought in Mosul. With the help of helicopters with no markings was carried out transfer of manpower and weapons. In 2017, such cases were recorded in the provinces of Jawzjan, Faryab, Sari Pul, Ghazni, Nangarhar, Herat, Zabul. [5]

The number of groups in Afghanistan, according to various estimates ranging from 2 to 10 thousand terrorists. According to statements of the commander of the Central military district of the armed forces Lieutenant-General Alexander Lapin, about 10 thousand militants are now in Afghanistan. [6]

The militants "Velayat Khorasan" the IRA is basically an international contingent. The group is recruiting local representatives, through advocacy and recruitment, as well as militants coming from Syria and Iraq and other neighboring countries. Reports of consolidation groups "Velayat Khorasan" in the North of the country, particularly in the provinces of Badakhshan, Kunduz, Faryab, Jawzjan, Sari Pul, Balkh, located in the immediate vicinity of the borders of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. [7] In 2016, reports on the activity of the IG came also from the Northern provinces such as Balkh and Kunduz.

Today, one in the organizational and information structure ISIS in IRA do not exist. It is possible to allocate three types of structures are part of or associated with the group "Vilayat Khorasan": [8]

The first type of armed group ISIS, who are the direct representatives of the "Islamic state" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These groups now operate in the East and North of the country, have there own infrastructure (training camps, weapons caches and ammunition, human intelligence, etc.). They are fighting with the Taliban for control over individual districts, spheres of criminal business and sources of funding.

The second type of criminal group, operating under the "brand" of the IG and covering with it the various types of illegal business (the narcotics industry, kidnapping, extraction of precious stones and other minerals, etc.). These organized crime groups have nothing to do with IG and act locally in specific regions or settlements, and does not pursue political goals.

The third type is about the structure of the IG created the Afghan, with the aim of combating the Taliban) and foreign intelligence agencies and acting in their political, military and economic interests.

It should be noted that the priority for the terrorists of the terrorist organization "Velayat Khorasan" until now, remained in the middle East theater of war, as it is the control part of the territory of Syria and Iraq allowed them to declare the existence of a Caliphate and claim a leading position in the conglomerate of terrorist organizations. However, a significant defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq forces us to reconsider their strategy and focus on Afghanistan for actions within the country and towards Central Asian countries.

In this regard, it can be assumed that ISIS, as the shock troops of the radical Islamists, will operate in the region by methods other than action in Syria. There will be the recruitment of fighters from among local residents and create opposition to the current regime as a "source of destabilization" socio-political situation. Thus formed the opposition determined to overthrow the current government. It will not be secular-oriented intellectuals "color revolutions" sit abroad or located in the power structures of States and revolutionaries, ready to sacrifice their lives for the construction of a New Caliphate. Along with this, to solve this problem the emissaries of ISIS in Central Asia only with hybrid forms and methods of destabilization with the use of strategies of indirect actions and "soft power." The strategy of using "soft power" in this case will be aimed at creating in the minds of the population the following triad: pan-Islamic unity of the Muslim Ummah, the elimination of the illegitimate secular state in Central Asia, followed by the creation of political systems based on Sharia law and the creation of a regional Confederation of Islamic States [9].

Another major international Pashtun terrorist structure operating in the Afghan-Pakistani area is the Islamic movement "Taliban" (IDT). The main method activities of IDT is guerrilla warfare, which is largely due to modern military capabilities, and existing organizational structure of the group. With the reduction and withdrawal of forces allied with the territory of the IRA, the Taliban are increasingly resorting to the seizure of territories.

"Taliban" is based on the ideology of deobandism (fundamental direction of Sunni Islam). Its leaders have never set a global expansionist goals. In this regard, the main objective of the Islamic movement "Taliban" is to build a "truly Islamic" state based on Sharia in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Factors influencing the ideology of the Taliban, especially, are:

1) Pashtun nationalism, limiting the sphere of interest of the Taliban territory of Afghanistan and partially Pakistan, no penetration in other States in the region.

2) the Failure to establish full control over the territory of Afghanistan as a rear base, without which it is impractical and impossible to carry out ideological and territorial expansion in the region.

In this regard, in 2015 (the time of the withdrawal of the contingent of the International security assistance force from Afghanistan) ideology of the Taliban has undergone significant changes:

1) control over districts and provinces, under the control of the power structures of the IRA and the Multinational force;

2) the establishment of a Sharia form of government on the territories controlled by the Taliban and captured in the course of offensive operations;

3) avoiding undue civilian casualties and the destruction of infrastructure, ensuring uninterrupted functioning of objects of economic and social development.

In official statements published on the information resources of the IDT, the leadership of the group in the appeal to the governments of the countries bordering on Afghanistan, stressed that they did not consider IMT as a threat to its national sovereignty, as fighting, sabotage and terrorist activities are the focus of establishing control over the territory of Afghanistan. [10]

According to statistics, in 2016 in Afghanistan has been made 1 342 attacks, which is 23% less than in 2015. The Taliban are responsible for 94% of the attacks. Victims of terrorist acts across the country were more than 9 thousand people (4574 people were killed and 5057 were injured). The Talibs are responsible for the resonant attack of 2016, the attack on the Northern city of Kunduz, when the fighting, killing 154 people. [11]

But in relation to the military activity of the Taliban in the 2016 year as a result of guerrilla warfare of the Taliban in Afghanistan killed 18 000 people, which is 700 more than in 2015. That is, for the Taliban terrorism is becoming less effective and justified in comparison with the guerrilla actions. Talking about it and yourself official statements of IDT, in which they constantly emphasize the need to avoid unnecessary victims among the civilian population.

A distinctive feature of the IMT is not only a careful study of the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, but the creation of a vast conspiratorial network of informants-collaborators who reported on all movements of government and foreign troops on the territory of the IRA. In recent years, the Taliban began to use the methods of terrorist activity, characteristic of extremist groups operating in the middle East. In particular, the Taliban began using suicide bombers, has spread the practice of beheading hostages.

Also, the new unit in the structure of the terrorist group "Taliban" is created to solve specific operational tasks, the so-called "Red team" – "Kitai Surkh". This unit is equipped with tactical equipment and unloading vests, helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, sunglasses. The action of the units of the Taliban's tactics are similar to the groups "inimacy" MTO IG. For mobility at the disposal of "red group" tens of armored vehicles Humvee Ford Ranger. [12]

Because of regular air strikes the USAF and their allies in the Taliban terrorists have no infrastructural development: the leaders and militants of IDT are trying all the time to move from one place to another. It should also be noted that for purposes of secrecy the leaders of international terrorist organizations are trying to convey information orally with the help of his assistants or use the liaisons-couriers with written messages.

It is also advisable to take into account the fact that in recent years the Taliban was shaken by internal conflicts. After 2015, the terrorists confirmed the death of the chief and founder of the ITA Mullah Omar, who was killed in an attack UAV, the U.S. air force, the Taliban has tended to split. Some of the major field commanders of the Taliban and the family of Mullah Omar expressed dissatisfaction with the election of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, leader of the movement (also killed during a US air strike in 2016). Many believed that it was part of the plan for the collapse of the movement by increasing discontent in the ranks of the group and other terrorist organizations, loyal IDT.

The head of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi January 25, 2015 called the Taliban leader Mullah Omar "ignorant and unenlightened action, not possessing the necessary qualities of a spiritual leader and politician". [13] Usman Ghazi as a "betrayal"

June 16, 2015 "the Taliban" Mullah Akhtar Mansur sent to the leadership of the "Islamic state" letter, which expressed concern about the emergence of is in Afghanistan. The appeal focused on the religious commonality between the two groups, and requested the leadership of the IG voluntarily refrain from interfering in the Affairs of Taliban.

As a result of this and other internal problems, some warlords and some of the Union, ETC group, swore allegiance to the growing popularity of the "Islamic state".

Part of the other field commanders ARE perceived this decision as a "betrayal" against the Taliban. As a result, there was a decrease of IDT in the Northern and Eastern provinces where the estimated number of militants was about 2000 people.

Currently, IDT has a single, well organized structure. It consists of local groups, whose leaders declare their allegiance either Alliance with IDT.

Fig.4 the Situation in the IRA at the time of 2017

Despite this, at the end of January 2018, the Taliban continue to control a significant part of the mountain and rural areas of the country, regularly attacking the provincial centres and facilities in Kabul. [14]

Along with the main terrorist groups of greatest danger in an IRA, there is a third force – "the Haqqani Network". The activities of this extremist group dates back to the input of the Limited contingent of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. According to some, today the group manages Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of the first leader of the group, etnicheskogo of influential Pashtun from the Zadran tribe, Jalaluddin Haqqani. It is important to emphasize that the organization is the exclusive influence of the Haqqani family, as the leadership of the group is distributed between relatives. For example, Aziz Haqqani led the militant attacks in the border of the Afghan-Pakistani area and was responsible for terrorist operations in Kabul, Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani was the chief financier of the organization, responsible for communication with the leaders of "al-Qaeda", Yahya Haqqani was in charge of propaganda.

The traditional area of action of this group includes historical-geographical areas of Loya Paktia, is located in the provinces of Paktika, Paktia, Khost and Waziristan in the area of resettlement of Pashtun tribes, where the main command and control and logistics groups. [15]

The ideological feature of the "Haqqani Network" is the fact that they are characterized by the prevalence of common religious values over pushtunwali, representing an unwritten code of laws and honor code of the Pashtun tribes, which in some matters differ from the laws of Sharia.

In turn, the "Haqqani Network" has a strong religious-ideological beliefs and expresses the firm intention to develop relations with "al-Qaeda" and allied groups. "The Haqqani network" is considered to be independent, though close to the IDT, and in a confrontation between the Taliban and the "Velocom Khorasan" is their ally. But they are not subject to anyone's influence, in particular, did not fully follow the instructions of the "Quetta Shura Taliban" – the Supreme Council of Taliban leaders, because it has its own, formed the leadership and functional structure. In collaboration with IDT there are no relationships of subordination. So, the "Haqqani Network" may ignore the instructions of Taliban leader regarding terrorist activities. In the case of planning terrorist attacks outside the controlled zone, the leadership of this group necessarily coordinate their actions with the leadership of the local illegal armed groups, in order to avoid conflict situations.

It is not excluded that in the future, "the Haqqani Network" may be the most capable and potent insurgent group, operating in the territory of the IRA. Thus, the "Haqqani Network" in the future, poses a strategic threat to stability in Afghanistan.

However, it should be noted that today in the country there is a clash of interests of two terrorist groups for dominance in the IRA, the Taliban perceive their power in Afghanistan as absolutely sovereign Caliphate and refuse to swear allegiance to the leader of ISIS. International terrorist organization "Islamic state", in turn, considers Afghanistan as their potential rear base where you can establish a foothold, to further strengthen the group and entering in a neighboring state.

Attempts to integrate the Taliban and ISIS seriously complicated by the following factors, which are estimated to make unification impossible:

1) Groups have different goals, despite the fact that in the implementation of the tasks use about the same methods.

According to the statements of leaders of IG, the main goal of the organization is the overthrow of secular regimes in Muslim countries and the building of a "Great Islamic Caliphate". In turn, the grouping of the Taliban is Pashtun nationalism limits the scope of interests of IDT territory of Afghanistan and partially Pakistan, no penetration in other States in the region.

2) a Key difference in ideology was the ethnic factor: the militants in the IRA based on their submitted international contingent. Up to 30% of the total number of terrorists "Velayat Khorasan" come from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, as well as from Algeria, Sudan, France and the North Caucasus, ethnic groups which do not belong to the peoples of Afghanistan, with all its diversity. Also there is a large number of militants from Pakistan and other representatives of Arab countries in the Middle East. The national structure of the Islamic movement "Taliban" in turn, the vast majority presented of Afghan Pashtuns. [16]

3) For the Taliban, direct confrontation with the US is possible only in the case of consolidation of all Islamist groups. In turn, the IG believed that a direct confrontation with the US is dangerous and can lead to loss of human and material resources, destruction of infrastructure and economy in the controlled areas of Afghanistan.

4) Another reason is control over the heroin market and receive additional funding from the sale of drugs, and the struggle for human resources for factions in the face of the youth of Afghanistan.

The result of this confrontation was that the relationship between the Afghan radicals of the Taliban and the "Islamic state" passed into the stage of open clashes. In April 2015, the group has declared a "Holy Jihad", which with varying degrees of intensity is to this day.

Presence in Afghanistan is such a variety of terrorist groups is a source of long-term instability in the country and in the Central Asian region as a whole. Are prerequisites for the infiltration of members of terrorist organizations on the territory of countries-members of the CSTO, in particular, in the Republic of Tajikistan with Afghanistan long border.

A serious threat to Russia and other CSTO countries, primarily Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, represent the trend of the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan. Among them include: the infiltration of militants, the negative impact of the middle East crisis and the situation in Pakistan, strengthening of inter-ethnic conflict between the factions of the current Afghan government (between Pashtuns and Tajiks in the government of national unity, as well as between Tajiks and Uzbeks in the North of the country), the increasing problem of refugees.

Analyzing the situation in the region, it is possible to assume that in conditions of the emerging military-political situation, the number of militants will increase in connection with the transition of militants IDT and addition to the ranks of supporters arriving from the Middle East. In this case, the strength is the availability of infrastructure, its own media, as well as the active recruiting activities. Presumably, the weak side will be ethnic conflicts both inside and between the opposing groups.

In connection with the policy of double standards pursued by the US and its allies, one could also think about the benefits for them, the current military-political situation in the region and the use of terrorist groups as a source of long-term instability to justify its presence in the IRA and increase their influence, despite the claims of the government about the withdrawal of troops.

Analyzing the situation in the region, it is possible to assume that in terms of the current situation, the number of militants MTO IG will increase in connection with the transition of militants IDT and filling the ranks of the supporters of MTO arriving from the Middle East. In this case, the strength is the availability of infrastructure, its own media, as well as the active recruiting activities. Presumably, the weak side will be ethnic conflicts both inside and between the opposing groups.

Thus it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

  1. Currently, she is the lack of a single extremist underground.
  2. Presence in Afghanistan is such a variety of terrorist groups is a source of long-term instability in the country and in the Central Asian region as a whole. Are prerequisites for the infiltration of members of terrorist organizations on the territory of countries-members of the CSTO, in particular, in the Republic of Tajikistan with Afghanistan long border.
  3. In connection with the policy of double standards pursued by the CDF of the United States, you can assume the benefits for the U.S. the emerging University in the region and the use of terrorist groups as a source of long-term instability to justify its presence in the IRA and increase their influence, despite the claims of the government about the withdrawal of troops.
  4. We can assume that the persistence of confrontation between "Velocom Khorasan" and the Taliban, the continued conduct of hostilities is able to significantly weaken their military capability and ideological influence.
  5. In turn, the "Haqqani Network" may be the most capable and potent insurgent group, operating in the territory of the IRA. Thus, the "Haqqani Network" in the future, poses a strategic threat to stability in Afghanistan.

List of sources and references

[1] Ganiev T. A. "Analysis and forecasting of military-political situation in foreign countries. Republic Of Afghanistan". Part 1. Textbook. – M. WU, 2008. C. 3

[2] https://sputnik.by/politics/20180215/1033664439/afganistan-boeviki-gruppirovki-toerroristy.html

[3] Ahmed Rashid, "Taliban. Islam, oil and the new Great game in Central Asia". 2003, publisher: Biblion – Russian book.

[4] who's Who in international terrorism: a Handbook / V. V. Krasinsky, V. V. Mashko. – M.: Infra-M, 2018. P. 22

[5] Bulletin of the security Council of the Russian Federation. 2018. No. 1. P. 15-16

[6] https://ria.ru/world/20180416/1518755349.html

[7] https://www.obozrevatel.com/politics/24380-velayat-horasan-novyij-vrag-rossii-v-afganistane.html

[8] http://afghanistan.ru/doc/116542.html

[9] Ganiev T. A., Karyakin V. V. "the Military-political situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and security of Central Asian region". The collection of materials of the round table. "The state of the military-political situation, the forecasting of its development in the Central Asian region" the Collection of materials of the round table. M. VAGSH. 2018. With 49-50.

[10] http://alemarah-dari.com

[11]https://news.liga.net/world/articles/terrorizm_v_afganistane_ugroza_kotoruyu_nedootsenili

[12] https://news.ru/v-mire/specnaz-taliban-krasnaya-gruppa/

[13] URL:http://afghanistan.ru/doc/91334.html

[14] https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com

[15] https://interaffairs.ru/news/show/15748

[16] Belokrenitsky V. J., R. R. sikoev the Taliban and the prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan. – M.: Institute of Oriental studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2014. – 216 p.

Tangles N.In.


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