IS-K undermines Taliban by attacking central Asian neighbours

Kabul, May 12 (IANS) The ultraradical Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group is trying to undermine the Taliban’s hard-line rule by launching attacks on neighbouring countries from Afghanistan, analysts say, RFE/RL reported.

In the latest attack, IS-K claimed that it had fired rockets on unspecified targets inside Tajikistan from the northern Afghan province of Takhar on May 7. The attack came weeks after a similar attack on the Uzbek border city of Termez from the neighbouring Afghan province of Balkh on April 18.

Both Dushanbe and Tashkent have denied that such attacks took place. Taliban officials have denied that Uzbekistan was attacked from Afghan territory and say they are probing the alleged attack on Tajikistan.

Experts say that by attacking Afghanistan’s neighbours, IS-K is trying to sow more distrust in the already-strained relations between the Taliban and regional capitals, RFE/RL reported.

Analysts, who follow IS-K, say the group is trying to exploit strains in the volatile region with the goal of provoking countries to attack Afghanistan. They argue that the group — which aims to establish a global Islamic empire — also wants to undermine Taliban assurances to the international community that militants will not target any country from Afghanistan.

“(IS-K) wants to showcase Taliban failures, strain relationships, and possibly provoke retaliatory state-led military operations into Afghanistan,” Andrew Mines, a research fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told RFE/RL.

Mines says IS-K is now trying to signal to the international community that the Taliban is unable to fulfill its counterterrorism commitments.

“(Attacks like these) fly directly in the face of Taliban commitments to not let jihadists use the country for staging external attacks,” he says, RFE/RL reported.

In its February 2020 agreement with the US, the Taliban promised not to allow the jihadist groups such as Al-Qaeda to launch attacks on other countries from Afghanistan.