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Twin suicide bombs ripped through crowds outside Kabul airport on Thursday, killing at least 85 people including 13 US troops and deepening panic in the final days of an already frenzied evacuation effort from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. FRANCE 24 Terrorism Specialist Wassim Nasr discussed the state of play on the ground in Afghanistan, the Islamic State group’s motivations and capabilities, how equipped the Taliban is to counter that threat and the ongoing role of the United States.
On Thursday at Kabul‘s airport, the group used suicide bombing, he said, but they could also employ rockets (as they did to attack the presidential palace in July), improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or orchestrate much more complex attacks.
Nasr suggested the sheer visibility of the Afghanistan evacuation campaign at Kabul airport could also motivate Islamic State group’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter, known as IS-K, to carry out further bloodshed. “It is actually in their interest to do so because today everybody is looking at the airport in Kabul and to the exfiltration process ongoing for Western citizens and for Afghans who were working for Western countries. And it’s a way for them to score high tolls but also to be in the headlines,” Nasr added.
As to whether the Taliban can effectively conduct counter-terrorism against IS-K, which was previously contained by both the Taliban and Afghan forces backed by the United States, Nasr noted that American officials said yesterday that the US had fed the Taliban information to help counter Islamic State group. He also noted that US President Joe Biden’s pledge to try to kill those responsible for Thursday’s attack suggests the US will continue to conduct strikes in Afghanistan even with the Taliban at the helm. “So it’s a real game-changer today, where we see that the Taliban become a partner of the US in this counter-terrorism effort”, Nasr said.