Counter-terrorism experts here are not surprised at the ISIS (Khorasan) claiming responsibility for the August 26 blasts at the Kabul airport even as a second attack close to the airport in the Afghan Capital was reported on Sunday, turning true the US’ alert about such a possibility.
While the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as also the ISIS (Khorasan) are all linked, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has created the distinction to allow Taliban gain international recognition and subsequently, receive grants.
In fact, the blasts at the Kabul airport could have been the handiwork of Afghan Taliban itself or executed by ISIS-K with knowledge of Taliban, in order to expedite the pending evacuation of foreign nationals and terrorize the locals not to flock the airport, the experts suspect.
Experts tracking developments in Afghanistan said as many as 27 Taliban fighters were killed in the Kabul bombings earlier this week but it conveniently shifted the blame to ISIS-K as part of the
larger ISI ploy of denying violence since the Taliban has now wrested power from the erstwhile Abdul Ghani led government. Both the Taliban and the ISI-K share similar ideology.
The ISIS (Khorasan), also a splinter group and an extension of the Taliban, will be used by the ISI for the abduction of foreign nationals still working on pending projects there. The ISI will then offer to broker ransom deals with the ISI-K and extort hefty sums of money for such abducted foreigners, sources said.
In addition, the ISIS (Khorasan) will also be used for legitimising the drug money generated from the opium cartel operating out of Taliban under the patronage of ISI through its terror affiliates like the Lashkar-e-Tayabba and Jaish-e-Mohammad as also Taliban, they said.
Counter-terrorism expert Dr Rituraj Mate told The Pioneer, “The discrimination between the Taliban and ISI-K and portrayal of their separate identities is an ISI conspiracy to allow
Taliban the elbow room to collect funds from white channels like international funding agencies and for evading scrutiny from the FATF.
The ISI-K will be in charge of the dirty games of generating funds from illegal drugs trade and extortion bids as also to perpetrate killings and bombings.”
Assessments here suggest the tacit understanding and coordination between the Taliban and the ISI-K could also be unraveled as the former swiftly took control of Nangarhar, one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, from the latter that controlled the area.
However, it cannot be ruled out that ISI-K could be seeking its share of the spoils of the capture of Afghanistan by Taliban that is yet to form a governance mechanism for cooperation in takeover of Nangarhar.
Counter-terrorism expert of Afghan origin and founder of the Afghanistan Republican Salvation Front, Ajmal Sohail, said, “The control of Kabul and the airport there rests with the Haqqani Network, so the attacks on Kabul airport being blamed on the ISI-K could just be an eyewash and could be a result of some behind-the-scenes negotiations between the CIA and Taliban in the run-up to the Kabul bombings.”
The August 26 blasts have so far claimed 170 lives even as the US has claimed to have killed the ISIS-K planner behind the bombing in a retaliatory drone strike.