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tv   Washington Journal Andrew Mines  CSPAN  September 2, 2021 1:31pm-2:08pm EDT

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c-span is your unfiltered view of government. it is funded by these television companies and more, including spark light. journal" continues. "washington journal" continues. host: andrew mines >> a research fellow from george washington is joining us to talk about potential terror threats out of washington. welcome. guest: thank you for having me. host: we will start off with a question of who is this group that we have heard it so much about, isis-k? guest: isis-k, i am sure that
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people have seen different acronyms for this group at this point, but this is the official branch for the islamic state that is currently operating in afghanistan. the k stands for correspondence, and historically that is a region that covers eastern iran, afghanistan, parts of pakistan and elsewhere in central asia. the group for all intensive purposes now is focused on afghanistan. lee formed in 2015 when members of the pakistani taliban, the afghani taliban and al qaeda and other members of jihadis groups coalesced around one leader, who had been nominated as the governor or top leader to oversee this branch operating in afghanistan. not long after that, they embarked on one of the most deadly campaigns in terrorism we have seen ever in the region. by 2018 there were one of the top four deadliest terror organizations on the planet.
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host: the taliban has been allied with al qaeda in the past, what is isis-k's relationship with al qaeda? guest: these groups are of eminently opposed to -- are very opposed to each other. there is a history where different affiliates were butting heads and for all intensive purposes, since then there has been a global competition between the two organizations. so that has played out in afghanistan, too. we have not seen isis-k and al qaeda necessarily butting heads with each other, but because of the relationship with taliban, we have seen isis-k going at it with the afghan taliban. host: hasn't the history of afghanistan shown as decades, if not centuries, of internal conflicts between tribal groups, groups that represent different sets of people? is that basically what we have
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here continuing today? guest: it's difficult to kind of paint it so broadly because we have also seen in the last 20 years, that this has been a time of significant hope and promise for them. at the same time, we have seen competition between different jihadist organizations play out. in some respects, there are components of a that play out along ethnic lines where different factions decide which groups meet their agenda. but there's a global component of it, too, where the islamic state brand and al qaeda brand are playing out in the area now. host: it seems the administration is facing multiple threats from afghanistan, or was at that always the case? guest: historically, definitely in the immediate years after 9/11, that was pretty much al qaeda. over time we have been able to diminish that threat, but not
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destroyed it completely. any claims that al qaeda had been defeated tend to be premature and they have been that way for basically since the inception of the group. right now, of course, the competition between these two groups shows there is a multiple threat. we have threats coming from the islamic state and threats coming from al qaeda. now they are focused locally on afghanistan, but if counterterrorism pressure is removed from either organization, if we take our eyes off, our own intelligence officials have told us that both of these groups could pose a direct threat to us, to our western allies, within 18 months to 36 months. host: without any military boots on the ground, and without any significant u.s. boots on the ground, how will the u.s. keep or continue counterterrorism,
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the u.s. and its partners continue counterterrorism efforts in the region? guest: we have seen from the biden administration, and now we are seeing more from the united kingdom, the over other horizon capabilities. basically what this means is the u.s. air assets will be flying missions from different bases in the middle east into afghanistan to conduct strikes against islamic state targets. the other part of over the horizon relies on human sources on the ground to provide either locations for targets and win they will be traveling and so on. historically, we have relied immensely on the afghan intelligence for that. i think a lot of people in the last few weeks have discussed at the rapid fall of the afghan national forces. there is merit to that, but we have relied on those forces for significant periods of time, and
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without them now, the reliance on them is really an open question and when we do not have good answers to just yet. host: andrew mines is with george washington university's program on extremism. democrats, 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. independents and others, 202-748-8002. you have a masters in clinical psychology. does that bring you closer to trying to understand what is the mindset of these terrorist groups? guest: i am actually still working on it. yes, i am still working on it. this is actually my last semester.
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i think it has definitely helped with understanding a lot of the things we see on the domestic side and working on why americans decided to join these organizations, why they decided to attack targets in the united states. i think it's more comparative politics and definitely history that is helpful to understand what is going on in afghanistan right now. host: do you think the withdrawal of u.s. forces there has emboldened people to take part to join the taliban there? obviously, the taliban has control in afghanistan. and what about isis-k, does this help their recruiting in that country? guest: on the al qaeda side of things, absolutely. they released a statement congratulating the afghan taliban, declaring that their al qaeda 20 year war against at the americans has paid off. that this has been perceived as a huge victory for the group.
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that's the top-down dissemination. we have also seen osama bin laden's former head of security, who was spotted in afghanistan, and that is not bode well for what the organization plans to do. and we have seen al qaeda affiliates in official and unofficial channels, both are celebrating this as a huge victory, but also discussing a lot about traveling to afghanistan now to join al qaeda and the taliban. so that could mean problems because they will have expectations of the taliban, of al qaeda, and if expectations are not met, they risk being driven into their ranks of isis-k. on the other side we have isis-k , they are in a curious position because they need to show over the next few weeks and months, that al qaeda and the taliban together cooperate with the west and will be illegitimate because
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if they are cooperating with the u.s., as we see this play out, they will view this as a threat. at that risk is driving additional fighters into isis-k. if the taliban concedes on even slight ideological issues, that is driving fighters into the ranks of isis-k. this is a precarious time for the region and i think that people need to wake up and see how precarious that is right now. host: let me read you another view, an opinion piece, "biden did not see the isis-k threat in afghanistan until too late." "the united states put the taliban and a potentially awkward position where they share the same enemy. should the united states work with the taliban against the islamic state? there are two paths forward. one option, which the ministration appears to be
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leaning to, his to cooperate with the taliban, including perhaps intelligence chairing -- sharing on drone strikes. or they could choose to do nothing and let allies and isis-k battle it out." guest: my colleague highlights an important consideration, that there are no good options. if we let the taliban be and try to control isis-k by themselves, we have seen them engage with isis-k in traditional clashes, more conventional warfare were either groups -- where subgroups will go after isis-k when they have held positions in different areas in afghanistan. we have seen them do that, but we have not seen them secure and govern a city and pursue counterterrorism against another insurgent group in urban areas. we have not seen that yet. so their capacity to do that, we
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truly do not know what that is. at is a big unknown. and it has the risk o of being incredibly dangero -- risk of being incredibly dangerous. isis-k has a game plan to move through anti-research and consolidate territory and coerce populations and conduct of violence. and all the things it needs to do over the long run to establish that same caliphate we saw in iraq and syria, to establish a version of that in afghanistan. on the other side, what happens if over time -- let's look out a few months -- what happens over time if we are sharing intelligence with the afghan taliban, and they are sharing good intelligence or bad intelligence with us. over time, the taliban, what if they get tired of working with the u.s.? and they start defecting over to
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isis-k. those are real questions into serious considerations we need to think about as we look down the line. there is no good answer. but that is the long and short of it. host: first up, jeff in cape coral florida on the republican line. good morning. caller: hi. am i on the air? host: yes, go ahead. caller: justgo ahead, jeff. guest: ok. just the -- caller: just a few questions. why didn't we see any presence from isis-k during mike sills ran from 2014 to 2019, and what are the chances that we could see homegrown-based attacks
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since biden's failure? host: you mean homegrown here in the u.s.? caller: yes. host: thanks for your call. andrew mines. guest: thanks for your question. to your first question of why didn't the bided the administration see isis-k coming , and the american public may not have seen this, but there has been a lot of reporting in different news outlets and there has been a lot of activity by the u.s.-led coalition to combat the group -- 2016, 2017 in particular, we have conducted hundreds of airstrikes in this organization -- against this organization. we have dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in our arsenal on this group -- the only time
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we have ever done that, by the way, in 2017. as well as, i should mention, on the ground, special forces operators working to take back territory that isis-k controlled. we have seen this group over time. we have been working with afghan partners to degrade their capability. what that is going to look like now, i really can't tell you. in terms of your second question, the chances of homegrown attacks either from al qaeda or isis-inspired individuals in the u.s., i think certainly the chance has risen in the immediate future, especially as the online english-language propaganda from these organizations has come out and we have seen a lot of material encouraging supporters abroad to travel to afghanistan or to conduct attacks in their
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countries of origin. at the same time, over the last 20 years, our dhs and law enforcement partners have gotten better at identifying these attacks and we cannot omit the fact that we are much better prepared now that we have been in the past to identify and interdict attacked like that -- attacks like that. there is cause for concern, vigilance, but i don't think for panic. host: john. buzzards bay, massachusetts. go ahead. caller: high. i am john from buzzards bay, massachusetts. i am, kind of, like a news junkie, and i have been following this whole thing. biden is not very shy about, you know, cheap labor worldwide, being a pawn of wall street,
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george soros, all these type of people -- i'm just wondering if the money has spread to you, sir -- sometimes if you go on tv and say something that biden is about maybe we can get the minerals out of afghanistan before the green new deal. biden and hunter love all this money they can get because they are and politics. host: paul in florida. democrats line. go ahead. caller: mr. mines, could you in some detail explain the components of the taliban -- the major components? host: thanks, paul. guest: sure, paul. i think at the highest level, the television is not monolithic. i think these last months, these last several years, that has
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shown us that. that is the highest level think. there are components of the afghan taliban, like the haqqani network, that are significant risks -- members are doing the thickened risks in this period and overtime, but as a whole they have to deliver governance to the people, and if there criteria is not meant and their implementation of what they want islamic governments, they are at risk of joining isis-k or pursuing their own agenda. this is by no means a monolithic organization. the biggest fear we have heard from afghans on the ground, civil rights activist, general civil society activist, they don't know what to expect from the afghan taliban right now. they have seen different things in the north, the south, the
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capital, and elsewhere. what the afghan taliban does next will set the precedent for how different organizations and factions proceed through the next period, and the answer is we don't know what that is going to look like just yet. host: let me ask you about recording in the wall street journal about broader effects in the region -- the headline is india warns of terror threat after kabul shift the taliban swift takeover has brought to power and afghan government more closely aligned with pakistan, stirring concern -- security concerns in neighboring india and raising tension between the two nuclear-armed rival. they have warned in recent days the taliban's return could make the country a haven for terrorists. the taliban said they would no longer allow afghanistan to be used against other countries, but indian officials are skeptical, saying "it was the same taliban that was there 20
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years ago. india's chief of defense said last week on a meeting on the u.s.-india partnership. what you think of that view, professor mines? mr. mines? guest: i have not gone to the professor status yet. thank you, though. that has been a risk that has widened. the important part from the u.s. perspective is what leverage do we have left to coordinate with our allies, the indian government, the pakistani government, to coordinate with other governments in the region, russia and china included, to make sure afghanistan does not become and continues to be a realm for proxy warfare, where different governments pursue different militant organizations to further their agenda. so, we will see. we will see what that leverage and what that coordination looks like, but it will be important now more than ever because we know that when rival militant
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groups clash, when they are funded and supported by external powers, other states pursuing their own agendas, it is always civilians -- it is going to be afghans who pay the price, and if the coordination is not pursued, we will see a lot more displacement, a lot more death in the next few years. host: rich in centreville, virginia. good morning. caller: thanks for taking my call. i was watching a wonderful show last night on netflix, and i would encourage everyone to watch it, the backup -- and the run-up to 9/11 and why that occurred and they talked about the mosher dean starting in the 1980's and work their way to the 2000's, and in their they talk about osama bin laden, who i think it was during president clinton's time, they came to the united states and said this guy is a bad guy -- you can have him, and they said, well, let's
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send him to afghanistan because that is pretty much a place in the middle of nowhere. he can't cause any harm there. so, the crux of my point is -- and then they said they could not bring him in because they did not have enough evidence on him. he was from a wealthy saudi arabia family, so there was influence there, too. my question is, if we would have killed him or put him in jail -- kill him, not put them in jail, i wonder if we would have lost the thousands and thousands and thousands of people we lost, and spent the trillions and trillions of dollars. so, in america, think we are silly. we are not serious people. this is almost like a videogame of human beings. this has to stop. i can almost see it coming again where now the military-industrial complex, the cia, and everyone is going to try to find another way to get us in one of these messes.
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quite frankly, with president biden, the riot we had on january 6, i am sure, distracted them from planning better to get us out of afghanistan. host: thanks, rich. we will get a response. caller: -- guest: rich, you raise an important point which is why do we conduct these wars and what is our role going back to the measure hunting movement, what is our role here, and since 9/11 what has been our role here? i think is the american public moves on from the war in afghanistan -- a lot of people in this country are just going to move on. a lot of people cannot. a lot of veterans, civil service officers, foreign affairs officers, who spent time serving overseas in afghanistan will not be so easily able to move on. afghans who have made it out and
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who have not so easily made it out will not just be able to move on from this. what is important right now is that those voices are heard. is that the narrative of why we do this, what have we learned, and should weepers -- should we be pursuing this in the future -- that the narrative is crafted by people who have been on the ground fighting these wars, being victims of these wars, that the narrative is coming from them, and hopefully we can form a better understanding and better national memory of why we were in afghanistan and should be go back if, let's say down the road, and islamic state affiliate in afghanistan rises and the threat posed to us in our western allies becomes great. host: a headline this morning in "new york times" says -- reads that pentagon leaders are wary of working with the taliban. "this is a ruthless group." a briefing yesterday by the
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defendant -- -- at the pentagon talked about how they would treat the taliban and isis-k. [video clip] >> we don't know what the future of the taliban is, but i can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past, and whether or not they change remains to be seen, and as far as our dealings with them at that airfield or in the past year or so, you and work, you do what you must in order to reduce risk to mission and force, not necessarily what you want to do. >> any coordination possibilities against isis-k, do you think? >> it is possible. secretary austen: going forward, bob, i would not want to make any productions. i would tell you we will do everything we can to make sure we remain focused on isis-k, understand the network, and at a time of our choosing in the
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future hold them accountable for what they have done. host: andrew mines, let me follow on that with a question from a viewer in north carolina who says can andrew discuss the ideological differences between the taliban and isis-k that makes them dislike each other? guest: sure. the afghan taliban is focused on the emirate, a prominent islamic entity within the borders of afghanistan. they identify the afghan national boundaries as their country and they will be seeking to form and are starting to form governments within those boundaries. the islamic state movement overall is not recognized international boundaries. the world order as we understand it, nation states as we understand them, and as their boundaries are drawn -- we do not -- they do not recognize those boundaries and they view any jihadist group that works to form nationalist movements that are center-seeking for those boundaries, they view that as heretical.
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they also view aspects of how, in their views, lenient, the afghan taliban has been in accommodating different kind of cultural considerations and religious considerations that are specific to afghanistan and the region. they view those as heretical. so, there are deep set differences between these organizations, and we are unlikely to see isis-k and the movement accommodate any of those -- we are unlikely to see them cooperate or reach an understanding with the afghan taliban. this rivalry is about to play out for the next several years. host: let's go back to calls and hear from michael in arizona city. good morning. caller: the democrats don't have to worry about donald trump taking the 2024 election --
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there will not be one. there won't even be in america left. host: jean. louisville, kentucky. caller:
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>> a question for you on twitter. a george washington monitor studied right-wing american terrorism, because there is more towards january 6 and where it came from. guest: my colleagues and i have a database, and you can visit our website. if you go to our research staff, we have a section devoted to the
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capitol hill attack and you can find it under capitol hill speech. we have started monitoring that. you will find a lot of different recordings and some analytical products that we have put out. my colleague jonathan lewis and others have been right-wing neo-nazis and white supremacist organizations. one of my colleagues put out a great report recently about recently -- racially motivated violence. we encourage you to check it out. that is host: this is steve on the republican line. caller: good morning. i tried to give this a holistic look and i'm glad you brought up the issue of proxy wars. if you notice, up until recently, if you look at the taliban, they are armed with ak-47s and chinese made a k
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57's, presumably rpg's. at 75,000 taliban, not only in afghanistan, you also al-shabaab and central america. they are armed with marxist, norwest -- and maoist weapons. where's the supply chain, and where they getting there any dish? that is a narrow look to. i think we should pivot away from china. i'm tired of supporting a communist regime. i think india is no key. this is the largest democracy in the world. one last question. did the afghan army, three 2000 people, did they have any lieutenants in the army? host: ok. guest: to answer your first question about the taliban proxy supporters, what we know empirically and what my colleagues talked about, what
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others have studied and shown over time is that the pakistani military has been over time, we have substantial evidence, that they have been the biggest supporter of the afghan taliban. that includes providing safe haven in western pakistan. when the afghan country was escaping the coalition,. we are identifying that relationship. our failure over time is to leverage our relationship with pakistan and stem that was support. that is a key take away here. a lot of experts are bigger a lot longer than i have shown that. your third question was -- sure. we have seen women, and some kind of local level training in
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the afghan army. please do not quote me on that. i would have to get back to you on that. overall, the afghan security forces are overwhelmingly male. host: next up is nikki. good morning. caller: you are an expert. i know nothing. i always go to the guy who knows more than i do. what do you think religion plays in the role of extremism? in afghanistan, we have religious extremists who want to strike women down. in america, we have texas, which wants to shut things down in the name of religion. what is the difference between isis and american right-wing evangelicals? what is the difference?
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i don't understand. host: we will let you go there. would you care to respond? guest: it is a very simple question. look, it is one of a few questions that i've tried to answer for a very long time. you've pointed to religion, but let us broaden it out to ideology. the role ideology plays in extremism. we should really start to be moving this conversation over to how that factors into people and their identities. how they perceive the world. what their perception is about. who they identify with. their perception is about their out groups and their enemies. they feel they are either existential threats to their existence or to their in groups. this is a problem that is really well played out. there groups of different ideological affiliations and we see the same problem happening.
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your question is good. the answer is that we need to shift over to identifying identity perceptions that people who are part of these organizations are part of the movements that identify with how they see their ideology and their own personal grievances, what they've got going on in the background. how does this all kind of fuse together, and why does that push them to pursue either violence or to kind of sit and nonviolently support passively, actively, those ideologies? host: wall street journal had a headline. the united states is to monitor taliban used seized weapons. helicopters and armored vehicles were seized by the taliban in afghanistan. california is expressing concerns on that. the representative says that i believe the threats of
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evacuation of unverified afghanistan, and at the same time the southern border is part of a trifecta of for disaster. guest: there is a great piece about how -- what the afghan taliban has now. we have to think about what they have and how will they can use it. the answer is, they are able to use the majority of what they have now. we talk about light weapons, heavy weapons, antitank weaponry, equipment like night vision and that sort of thing. what are they do not have -- what they do not have is the ability to pilot fixed wing craft. they were mostly part of the afghan air force. they do not have the ability to pilot the more complex helicopters and complex aircraft that we unfortunately left behind. what happens to those now is is
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really -- do they get pulled onto the black market? do they get other people to find them for them? they cannot themselves fly those aircraft. again, i do not want to misspeak , but the video of them flying the helicopter over kabul, i think it was an afghan air force pilot, essentially being forced to fly that helicopter. the majority -- we have a special guest today. return visitor. the national security advisor. they are going to speak to you briefly about the cyber threats. she only is time for a few questions because she has to run off to a meeting. i will be the bad cop with that. we will then do a full briefing. >> good afternoon everyone. we want to take a moment to


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