October 15, 2021
As I posted previously (“Taliban finds new enemy“), the Taliban have a new enemy — the Islamic State.
The Islamic State is an international terrorist organization that plans attacks against the West and encourages local men around the world to also perpetrate attacks in the West. It also terrorizes local populations such as people in Afghanistan where it settled in to form a local branch.
The Islamic State in Afghanistan is known as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP *; also Daesh after the Arabic acronym) where Khorasan is an archaic name for the region between today’s Iran and India. Their denomination of Islam is Salafist (Salafi) — a non-orthodox vision of returning to what adherents believe to be “true Islam.” This true Islam is that which was practiced by the desert Arabs of Mohammed’s time as Salafists imagine it. One feature of Mohammed’s Islam was jihad — a holy war to go out to conquer the world at the edge of a sword for Islam. People who they came across had the choice of becoming Muslims or being executed.
Today’s Islamic State Salafists regard the Taliban * as heretics since they won’t engage in a holy war against the Western world. The Taliban are only satisfied with ridding Afghanistan itself of Western armed forces and Western cultural influences. And suicide bombing is not the Taliban’s way of terrorizing Afghans into submitting to Islamic law — Sharia.
IS-KP took credit for recently bombing a packed mosque in the northern province of Kunduz. The ostensible reason for bombing the mosque was that the suicide bomber was a Uygher Muslim, saying that the attack targeted both Shias (Shiites) and the Taliban for their purported willingness to expel Uyghers to meet demands from China.* In addition, the worshipers in the mosque subscribed to the Shia belief system which differs from the belief system of the IS-KP, and IS-KP considers them heretics for their beliefs. The Muslims of Iran are Shias, as are many Iraqis. The other large belief system is Sunni. Both the Taliban and IS-KP are Sunnis. However, we see that subscribing to the Sunni belief system does not make IS-KP brethren with the Taliban.
The Taliban maintain that the Shias in Afghanistan are also loyal Afghans so they should be treated fairly. The idea that the Taliban have committed atrocities against Shias is probably an urban legend according to James Fergusson. See his Taliban: The Unknown Enemy (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010). As a journalist, he covered the Taliban’s Afghanistan during the late 90s, and then he covered the allied war in Afghanistan during its first decade.
Journalist Samya Kullab from AP explains what the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) has against the Taliban in Afghanistan. See “Can the Taliban suppress the potent IS threat?” from October 12, 2021. However, he also subscribes to the probable myth of Taliban massacres of Shias.
Kullab also surmises that IS-KP’s “immediate aim is to destabilize the Taliban and shatter the group’s image as a guardian of security.” However, “… the Taliban have shown themselves capable of rooting out some IS [Islamic State] cells, using their vast local intelligence-gathering networks…. IS — unlike the Taliban during their insurgency — don’t have access to safe havens in Pakistan and Iran.” Furthermore, some or many of the IS-KP are foreign fighters who are not any more welcome in Afghanistan than the Western coalition forces were.
Whatever we say about the Taliban, I wish them well in defeating IS-KP.
● IS-KP — Some journalists and academics refer to them as “IS-K.” I’ve also seen journalistic reports that call these terrorists ISIS. I do not understand this since ISIS is an abbreviation for ‘Islamic State Iraq Syria’. IS-KP has reportedly received financial support from ISIS, though.
● IS-KP — For more online background about IS-KP see “Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K)” from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. This report is from 2018.
● Taliban – At times they refer to themselves as “mujahideen” — “those who are fighting for G-dly rule” of Afghanistan. The early mujahideen, some of whom were Taliban, fought against the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. Today’s Taliban fought the Western coalition who were also seen as occupying Afghanistan. I gleaned that they call themselves mujahideen from a Frontline documentary “Taliban Takeover.”
● willingness to expel Uyghers … China – The mosque had no security so it was a soft target. Beyond this, IS-KP considers the Shia sect to be apostates rather than good Muslims. So perhaps this was why a Shia congregation was chosen for the attack. See “IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban” from AP.
● As I write this, another packed Shia mosque was attacked in Kandahar city killing and wounding a number of people. See “Suicide attack on Shiite mosque in Afghanistan kills 37.” AP is likely to update this article as more information comes in.