Joe Biden: Ferrari questions whether President is 'fit for office'
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The intention was to keep terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a breeding ground – but as yesterday’s attack on Kabul airport shows, not much has changed in the last two decades. At least 95 people have been killed, including three British nationals, in the attack, which has been claimed by the terror group Islamic State Khorason (ISIS-K).
The bomb was detonated at the Abbey Gate to the airport, which is currently under USA control.
A second bomb was thought to have gone off at the Baron Hotel close to the airport, but this was confirmed as untrue by the Pentagon.
More than 150 were wounded in the attack, and 13 US service personnel were also killed, as well as Afghan nationals.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were “very much with their families and their loved ones”, adding that “what their loss really underlines is the urgency of getting on and concluding” the evacuation effort.
The emergence of the Islamic State’s offspring ISIS-K is a significant worry for the USA and its allies – as well as the Taliban.
Since 2014, the splinter group has been mostly based in eastern Afghanistan, part of an area known as the Khorasan province – hence the acronym ISIS-K.
According to a US security think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS], ISIS K launched one hundred individual attacks on civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2015 and 2017.
It was also responsible for around 250 attacks on US, Pakistani and Afghan forces during the same period.
Since then, the number is likely to have risen further.
More recently, a United Nations report estimates the group currently retains “between 500 and 1,200 fighters”.
However, some experts predict this figure could rise to 10,000 in the coming years.
The Taliban and ISIS-K have a longstanding hatred of one another – they are regional foes due to differing ideologies and competition for territory across the country.
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Things have grown even sourer, with ISIS-K condemning the Taliban as a US back conspiracy.
Mr Biden appears to have conceded that the airport attack might represent a change in the terrorist threat to the USA – a marked change in tone from a television interview just a week ago, where he downplayed the risk to the US from violent extremists in Afghanistan.
On Thursday night, President Joe Biden pledged to “hunt down” the attackers and ordered his military to plan strikes.
He said: “Know this: we will not forgive, we will not forget.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
Exactly how this is going to unfold is uncertain – with American troops withdrawing fully in line with the August 31 deadline, there will be far fewer eyes and ears on the ground for America to use.
Reliance could come from the Taliban, potentially in the form of a security partnership as both will need mutual intelligence to tackle any threat from ISIS-K – something that was truly unthinkable only a few short weeks ago.
One thing is certain – the retaliation to what is happening in Afghanistan is not going to slow down anytime soon.
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