Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
The Islamic State terrorist attack against the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Afghanistan in Kabul stressed the unstable situation in the country and the Taliban’s inability to face terrorism and jihadist groups. Although the Taliban claimed that they had upgraded the national security situation since they took power in August 2021, the number of violent attacks and bomb blast have increased.
- Islamic State is the main threat to Afghan and regional security and stability, and the Taliban are still incapable of contrasting or reducing terrorist activities in the country.
- The worsening socio-economic situation might offer a fertile ground for jihadist propaganda and recruiting campaigns.
- Regional actors such as China, Russia, Pakistan and neighbouring Central Asian republics intensely monitor the Afghan situation since they have become potential targets of terrorist groups.
On January 11th, 2022, a suspected suicide bomber killed himself outside the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Afghanistan in Kabul. The bomb blast killed at least 20 people, according to Taliban sources, although there is scepticism about the number of victims. Local authorities reported that the terrorist had planned to enter the building when a Chinese delegation met the Taliban.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group’s Amaq news agency stated in an affiliated Telegram channel that the suicide bombing outside the ministry killed and wounded scores of people, including diplomats.
Previously last month, the Islamic State claimed the attack on a hotel in Kabul caused the wounding of five Chinese nationals. The terrorist group also claimed responsibility for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December 2022 that the Pakistani government considered an “assassination attempt” against their ambassador.
In October 2022, an attack on a mosque on the grounds of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of Afghanistan in Kabul killed five people and injured 25 others. The month before, in September 2022, a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State killed two Russian embassy staff members outside their mission in Kabul.
Why does it matter?
Since the U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s rise to power, Afghanistan has experienced an increasing wave of terrorist attacks against the Taliban themselves, ethnic minorities and foreigners.
Since August 2021, the Taliban interim-government has worked to obtain international recognition and attract economic interest and investments necessary to improve the domestic socio-economic conditions. The country’s security situation represents a severe concern for foreign companies interested in starting a business or operating in Afghanistan, considering the Taliban’s failure to cope with terrorist attacks.
Violent attacks against Chinese business people and Russian and Pakistani diplomats confirmed foreign concerns about Afghanistan and the high level of geopolitical risk of the country. Operating on the ground might attract the attention of terrorist groups and expose foreign workers and diplomats to violent attacks.
Recently, the Taliban interim government signed a 25-year contract with the Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company (CAPEIC) to drill for oil in the Amu Darya basin. The agreement marked the Chinese economic involvement in the country and, therefore, might transform the Chinese workers into an Islamic State potential target, also considering the jihadist propaganda that the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has orchestrated to recruit Uyghur and Central Asian citizens.