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tv   Inside Story  LINKTV  August 31, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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>> this is al jazeera. these are your top stories. the pentagon has confirmed the last american troops have left kabul, marking the end of 20 years of war in afghanistan. the last plane took off five years ago, clearing afghan airspace before the announcement was made. >> i am here to announce the completion of our mission in afghanistan and the end of the mission to evacuate american citizens, third country nationals, and vulnerable afghans. the last c-17 lifted off on
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august 30 this afternoon at 3:29 p.m. east coast time and the last aircraft is clearing the space above afghanistan. >> the taliban hailed the departure of troops, describing it as a historic moment, saying afghanistan has gained independence. celebratory gunfire and fireworks have been heard across kabul. thousands of afghans still want to leave. the u.n. security council has adopted a resolution to let them go safely but it is not known if the taliban will comply. >> assistant with the right to leave any country, including one's own, everybody must be allowed reason whenever they want by air or by land. this is of the utmost importance to us. >> hospitals in louisiana have been forced to evacuate dozens
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of patients after hurricane ida knocked out powers to many areas, including new orleans. ida made landfall on sunday but has been downgraded to a tropical storm. forecasters say it still poses a threat as it moves northeast into mississippi. in california, thousand have been forced to leave lake tahoe as a wildfire moves closer. the caldor fire has already burned through more than 700 square kilometers, destroying hundreds of buildings. those are your headlines. coming up next is "inside story."
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♪ >> it's the worst attack in afghanistan since the taliban's return to power. what is the greatest challenge and how much of a threat is it to the country out the world -- country and the world. this is "inside story." ♪ hello and welcome. the u.s. is hours away from ending its longest war, but with its 20 year mission in afghanistan coming to an end, it leaves behind a new threat. i seleka -- isil k has claimed response ability for the airport attack on thursday that killed 13 people -- that killed people,
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including 13 u.s. service members. the armed group has been responsible for some of the worst attacks in afghanistan in recent years and has been labeled one of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations. has isil k found a new haven in afghanistan and is it a serious threat to stability in the nation? joining us is a research fellow at george washington university's program on extremism. the director of analytical development at 's institute for strategic policy. and from islamabad, a security analyst and researcher on militancy. welcome. thank you for your time. fahad, you have said that from 2016 there have been a number of terrorism operations against
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isil-k and they thought it was dismantled, but recent attacks have enforced the threat. how big of a threat is isil-k in afghanistan right now? >> for the airport -- before the airport, reports have pointed out the threat of isil-k should not be discounted. they have been focusing efforts in and around kabul, but this attack was not something that could not have been anticipated. because of their structure around kabul, they were able to launch this attack. >> to what extent has the group been weakened throughout the years from u.s. and afghan counterterrorism efforts and in 2017 the u.s. dropping what it called the mother of all bombs
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in eastern afghanistan on this group? >> the group has been restructuring ever since the appointment of the new leader. he has been recruiting new militants in order to consolidate and boost their capabilities. they have been able to launch this high-profile attack because of those capabilities. >> over in wales, do you agree with this assessment? >> i think it has been more of a mixed bag over the years in terms of their successes and fortunes. by their own discourse and rhetoric, some of the biggest successes were in the very early years.
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i remember the islamic state magazine did an interview with the overall leader. he was posting of enablement in the land allowing control of terrorist implementation. in contrast with the supposed taliban that was refraining from implementing islamic law, but that was degraded. you have seen attacks carried out by the group over the years, some particularly bloody, for example those targeting vichy minority in -- targeting the shia minority in kabul. the tendency to draw a bigger conclusion about the group from the airport attack to its future in afghanistan, i don't see that as warranted. >> i wonder if you could tell us
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about the origins of the group and if you have any facts and statistics. how many members does the group have today? >> unfortunately i don't have the knowledge to offer statistics on group numbers. i don't even like doing that in general. what i can say about the origins, it drew on defectors from both the afghan taliban and pakistani taliban, drawing people from both sides of the border, for instance pakistani militants who had gone into eastern afghanistan. they did also draw on his back fighters elsewhere -- drawn some uzeb fighters elsewhere in afghanistan. today it is operating in the eastern half of the country and they were claiming attacks on a lower scale than this bombing, more opportunistic. they claimed some in a recent
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months, assassinating afghan government personnel, and some more small-scale attacks. attacks against the taliban. but those are very small-scale. this particular kabul attack was more of a ripe opportunity amid a hasty and disorganized withdrawal of the u.s. and western countries. >> in virginia, do you agree with the assessment that the aim of the attack thursday on kabul airport was meant to sow instability on behalf of the group? what do you think the long-term aim of isil-k is in afghanistan? are they lurking -- looking to build a caliphate like isil in iraq and syria? >> the answer to both questions is yes, but let me elaborate. as i pointed out in my wall
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street journal piece from saturday, the taliban emirate will not succeed for a simple reason -- you cannot have a group that is deeply ideological and has pretty much a similar ideology -- there is very little difference in the ideology of taliban and isis -- because the only difference is in terms of the type of state they want. otherwise the ideology is similar. this is a fluid battle space in physical and ideation terms. the more the taliban become pragmatic, the more they are going to lose people, and that is what i says is counting on. isis has, for many years, beginning in iraq, even when it was not called isis, it essentially emerged, started its bombing campaign in the midst of chaos. now you have an afghan government that has collapsed in nine days, u.s. forces are all
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but gone. the taliban have not taken over. they are just putting down roots. they haven't announced a government. this is a transition period that is very chaotic. this is the opportunity that isis is always looking for to start operations. i suspect these operations will become more and more intense and frequent as time goes by. yes, if iraq and syria are places where the caliphate was dismantled, they are going to try elsewhere. this is a place where the u.s. forces have pulled out and there isn't any likelihood of the united states going back in in a big way. it may send tens of thousands of troops if the situation worsened, like they did in iraq in 2014, but they are not going to bring large amounts of troops into the country. and there isto begin with.
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this, from isis's point of view, is great and there is a lot of room where they can operate. there is a huge pakistani taliban presence, people disaffected by the pakistani taliban or who were in groups who crossed over into isis. this is seen as a for tile battle space -- as a fertile battle space by isis. >> let me get this straight. what you are saying also is the group, in your opinion, wants to establish a caliphate and also wants to reestablish some sort of relevance in afghanistan. >> they are already relevant. they just have to expand their operations. they have to take advantage of the strategic vacuum that has been created. they will want to expand into pakistan as well, where there is
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fertile ground. places on the western periphery of afghanistan that were formerly under the control at one point, from 2007 to the early 2010s, by the pakistani taliban. this is a battle space that they know. at the end of the day, isis in afghanistan are people from outside. this is isis parachuting people from the mothership. in the arab world, these are locals who are battle hardened, they know the terrain, and they are coming out under a new label and see they have a better opportunity to overwhelm the situation because the taliban are veering into pragmatism because they have to govern. these are precisely the conditions that isis, which is a hard-line, perhaps the most extreme jihadist group in the world, definitely the most extreme jihadist group in the
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world, is going to try to take advantage of. >> we have seen the u.s. responding militarily so far to the group. does this run the risk of drawing american forces back into afghanistan at some point, when they are supposed to be leaving and ending this war in just a few hours' time? >> i don't think american officials will be thinking about coming back to afghanistan once they are leaving, because the afghan taliban will not be happy with the returning of american troops. they will have to rely on the taliban in order to deal with the isis threat. >> we are going to talk about the relationship between the taliban and isil-k in a moment. first, in 2015 the group released an audiotape in which
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the speaker released the group's expansion into the lands of horazon, which encompasses afghanistan, south asia, and parts of china. how much of a threat does isil pose to other countries? >> i would clarify, originally when the islamic state horazon province was announced, i'm pretty sure the idea was not only afghanistan, but a wider region, including pakistan and even the islamic state khorasan defeated leader talks about attacks in afghanistan. what you actually see now with the islamic state is they designated several so-called provinces, actually both pakistan and india, and they
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claim attacks and put out media propaganda under those labels. the khorasan province label only seems to apply to the islamic state operating in the borders of afghanistan as we recognize them. there has always been attack capacity for the islamic state in the region beyond the borders of afghanistan and it was formalized through the creation of separate provinces of pakistan and india. >> how is pakistan going to deal with this threat? >> currently it does not pose a serious threat to pakistan. future, if the khorasan province
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is able to increase, it could possibly become a threat. >> according to a congressional research service report, it outlines that many of its initial members were fighters with the taliban in palestine. give us some context to that. >> in january 2015 when the khorasan province was launched, defectors from the pakistan taliban joint to form the khorasan wing. there were a number of pakistani taliban militants who joined and switched their allegiance to khorasan. they were able to attack pakistan from connections with local groups.
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in may 2019, they decided to work on an individual basis instead of collaborating with other local militant groups. >> the taliban and isil-k are not the only groups operating around afghanistan. al qaeda has been a primary u.s. target in afghanistan since 2001. a report by the u.s. defense department said the group poses a limited threat because it is focused on survival. there is also a semi-autonomous component of the afghan taliban and an ally of al qaeda. there are a number of smaller groups like the pakistani taliban. its fighters fought alongside the afghan taliban against the afghan government. reports seem to suggest that isil-k are linked to the taliban via a third party and that party
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is the hakani network. what is the relationship between the three? >> it's not really clear that the hakani network is linked to isis. it is definitely the case that the haqqanis are linked to pakistani intelligence and al qaeda. the haqqanis occupy a position in the senior leadership of the taliban, and my institute, the new lines institute, published a piece today by an afghan journalist, who interviewed the youngest son of the founder of the haqqani network. in that piece, it is very clear that the taliban -- the haqqanis are very much taliban and they
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want to gain power. yes, this is a fluid battle space. the more hard-line elements tend to be disillusioned very easily if the taliban start to make compromises on ideology. a lot of these haqqanis can go over to isis and because the haqqanis are linked to not just al qaeda but other foreign fighters, like people from central asia, the russian federation, even uighurs, there is a huge risk of this spillover and becoming a conduit for people who are now under the afghan taliban moniker to cross over and say, we are joining isis and strengthening their ranks. we saw this in syria. there were multiple groups that were not isis, but they lost a
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lot of fighters to isis over the years. >> what is the relationship like between the taliban and isil-k? are they rivals, as many analysts seem to say, or is the relationship not so black-and-white? >> i would say it is a black-and-white relationship between the islamic state khorasan province and taliban. the wider group, the taliban, has become an out-of-state movement for a number of reasons, one being they don't implement islamic law properly. there is also the view that they make unacceptable outreach to the she a minority -- duto the shia minority and also that the
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taliban is supposedly a nationalist movement, in contrast with the islamic state, which doesn't recognize national borders but ultimately wants a caliphate that dominates the entire globe. there is actually a very clear ideological split between the two. for those reasons from the islamic state's perspective. whether all taliban members are guilty of the accusations that the islamic state khorasan promise -- province makes against them is another issue. for that reason the two sides are at war with each other. >> how will the taliban, now that the taliban is in control of most of afghanistan, how is it going to ensure that isil-k doesn't gain ground and doesn't continue to do attacks, like the ones we saw at the airport? >> i don't think it's going to
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be possible to destroy completely the islamic state khorasan province in the sense of being able to stop it from conducting any operations. there are always going to be people who sympathize with this project. there will be attacks, iud's, assassinations -- ied's, assassinations, and there could be more bombings. islamic state in khorasan province being able to carve out territorial control for itself and establishing a stable government, as we saw in the earlier days of the islamic state khorasan province and also in comparison with the group at the height of its power in iraq and area. >> would you like to respond to that? at the beginning of the show you were saying you believe isil-k
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does want to establish a caliphate and carve out ground for them. >> yes, if you look at the opportunity afghanistan presents in this strategic background and the strategic death they enjoy in neighboring pakistan, this is something that clearly points to isis investing so many resources into the afghanistan-pakistan region because of the need to establish that. they have been trying in iraq and syria to establish a caliphate of sorts, but it was dismantled. i think it is going to be sometime before they regain their bearing there. here are the commissions are far more ripe from their point of view. pakistan is a very weak state politically and economically
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speaking and is already bracing work a spillover -- bracing for a spillover from afghanistan. i would be surprised if isis is not intending to carve out a territorial state. i think the problem that the united states and its allies face is not immediately afghanistan becoming a launchpad for attacks against the west, but i think we will see afghanistan becoming a nucleus for another attempt at caliphate 2.0. that is where i think the focus of the united states and its allies should be in making sure that does not happen. how you do that is difficult because you don't have reliable allies. president biden is right when he says taliban interests are going to drive them to cooperate, but it's not going to be simple. the taliban have to balance many
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imperatives, so they cannot be a reliable partner. that is why this fight is going to be very difficult, and i think at some point when the situation deteriorates, i can see the united states conducting some operations on its own, whether the taliban like it or not. i am talking about a medium-term scenario. >> fahad, final word to you. he was just saying the taliban leadership shares security now with western countries and the united states, or rather the importance of security in afghanistan. to what extent do you think isil-k pose a major security challenge to the taliban and how do you think the taliban are going to deal with them? >> in the short term, they will continue creating panic and chaos. in the long-term, they will
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emerge as a main threat to the afghan taliban. to deal with this threat, it is important to ensure there is no defection to other movements. >> we will have to leave it there. thank you so much to all of our guests. thank you for joining us. thank you for watching. you can see the program anytime by visiting our website. for further discussion, go to our facebook page. you can join the conversation on twitter @aj insidestory. for myself and the whole team, thanks for watching and goodbye for now.
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♪♪♪ sally sara: a secret war, right on our doorstep. [chanting] sally: west papuan activists are fighting for independence from indonesia like never before. [guns firing] sally: jakarta is cracking down hard, cutting communications, and banning foreign media. sally: but we've managed to get inside where a long-running insurgency has reignited. [gun firing]


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