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How the Taliban victory in Afghanistan can reshape the jihadist movement

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As if it had to do with someone else, indeed the public announcement this week that Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was not the dead man might have looked comical.

However, any reaction to the news lines of Mark Twain’s famous description of a newspaper report about his death as “exaggerated” would have been out of place without hope.

This is because the constant rumors about the alleged death of Baradar in an armed clash with rivals underscored the weak stance of the harsh Islamic government in both Afghanistan and the radical jihadist movement that now sees the Taliban as rock stars.

A vendor selling posters of Taliban leaders Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (R) and Amir Khan Muttaqi waits for customers along a road in Kabul on August 27, 2021, after the Taliban army took control of Afghanistan. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images)

One month after the new regime, there is growing evidence that despite the Taliban’s stunning victory, there are significant internal rivalries within the movement as radical international jihadist movements seek to exploit the new government for their own ends.

Creating waves in terrorist circles

SecDev Group, a Canadian research and analytics firm specializing in security threats, recently drafted a new report warning of the overthrow of the Western-backed government in Kabul last month is making “social media waves” across Asia. South.

“It is not only the official channels managed by well-known extremist groups that openly celebrate the victory of the Taliban, but also a large number of moderate Muslims who are joining in what some describe as the victory of Islam over the ‘infidels.'” says the analysis report, which points to Bangladesh as a potential new trouble spot.

Bangladeshis who previously fought alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban are often celebrated by official AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent] social media channels. Such posts began to trend again after the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in August. “

Everywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 people from Bangladesh fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and returned home to cause trouble for successive governments.

A ‘plan’ for power

Observers have reported a strong online buzz among extremists in Bangladeshover in recent weeks.

“More than anything else, the Taliban victory in Afghanistan sets a plan that Western liberalism, intervention [and] secular states are not the only path to political growth, “said Rafal Rohozinski, a leader and founder of the SecDev Group.

Extremist groups everywhere are taking heart from the example of the Taliban. TheSecDev analysis notes that there have been reports of a handful of Bangladeshis heading to Afghanistan to join the Taliban.

Rita Katz is the founder and CEO of the SITE Intelligence Group, a non-governmental organization against terrorism. She said al-Qaeda and its allies rejoiced in the Taliban victory and called it “the beginning of a fundamental transformation.”

In Foreign Policy Magazine on Monday, Katz said a host of new social media groups have emerged to define the “path to glory” of militant jihadists and many are considering moving to Afghanistan because it is now the undisputed center of “global jihad “. “

Threats from within

Making peace with the US as the Taliban’s main negotiator, Mullah Baradar vowed to keep al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. Oneshte is one of the reasons why his death would not be treated lightly.

Many analysts have said the promise was always dubious, given the long friendly history between the two organizations and the Taliban’s inability to control al-Qaeda’s version of Osama bin Laden in the days leading up to 9/11.

In part of the analysis published online on August 31, Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the US-based Brookings Institution, asked if the Taliban regime could survive.

“The most significant threat to the Taliban regime may come from within,” Felbab-Brown wrote.

“Factions have differing views on how the new regime should rule in almost all dimensions of governance: involvement, treatment of foreign fighters, economy and foreign relations. Many middle-level commanders on the battlefield “Young people, more involved in global jihadist networks, and no personal experience of the mismanaged Taliban rule of the 1990s are tougher than the old senior national and provincial leaders.”

Soldiers, planes and civilian staff at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, receive wounded who were medically evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, August 27, 2021. They were injured in the bombings outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on August 8. 26 (Marcy Sanchez / Associated Press)

In addition to the challenge of keeping the movement together, Felbab-Brown said the Taliban could face desertions in the movement of the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK), a longtime enemy of the new regime and the Qaeda office, and the one responsible for the attack. killed 13 American troops and hundreds of Afghans outside Kabul airport.

“ISK currently cannot overthrow the Taliban regime,” she said, “but it can become an envelope for any future desertion.”

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Monday gave a measured assessment of the United States’ ability to monitor jihadist drama.

Speaking in front of an audience of government and industry officials, she noted how the closure of the embassy in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of forces have left an intelligence vacuum.

“There is no doubt that as you withdraw, our intelligence gathering is shrinking,” Haines said at the 2021 National Intelligence and Security Summit. “In Afghanistan, we will want to monitor any reconstruction of terrorist groups.”

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