Al Qaeda and ISIS were not fundamentally different entities. ISIS was a splinter group of Al Qaeda. Similarly, ISIS-K is a splinter group of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Writes Daniel Greenfield
“Once Enemies, U.S. and Taliban Find Common Ground Against ISIS,” a typical headline read.
General McKenzie, who had made the original dirty deal that put Kabul under Taliban control, praised them as “partners” who had made a “very good effort” to “secure the airport”.
Apart from that one suicide bombing that killed eleven of his Marines.
Biden awkwardly claimed that “ISIS-K, an archenemy of the Taliban, people who were freed when both those prisons were opened” posed a threat while neglecting to mention that the Taliban had opened the prison and that one of those prisons had been abandoned by Biden.
The dream of an alliance with the Taliban against ISIS-K ran aground when the Taliban condemned Biden’s airstrikes targeting the Jihadist group. A Taliban source then told CNN that ISIS-K fighters had “been melted” with the Taliban making them hard to tell apart.
The “archenemy of the Taliban” turned out to be… the Taliban.
The Jihadists, when they weren’t fighting each other, had found common ground against us.
And yet the Biden administration’s plan to fight ISIS-K in Afghanistan depends on an alliance with the Taliban. The references by General McKenzie and other Biden brass to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network as “partners” are telling. And they imply a relationship that will continue forward even now that Biden has officially withdrawn the military from Afghanistan.
Even once it was clear that the military equipment we were leaving behind would fall into the hands of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, military leaders went on abandoning, instead of destroying it. Like in Syria and Libya, the old Obama operatives were covertly arming their new “allies”.
And the Biden administration’s new allies were Al Qaeda.
Amin-al-Haq, Osama bin Laden’s former security chief, made the news with his return to Afghanistan in a Taliban convoy. And the Haqqani Network, which had been put in charge of Kabul’s security, had a long history with Al Qaeda. Gen. McKenzie’s professional partners are Al Qaeda. Much like in Syria and Libya, they’re a thinly disguised version of Al Qaeda.
But the definition of a “moderate” is a terrorist who is less extreme than another terrorist. In this morally and strategically relativist environment, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and even Al Qaeda could be said to be moderate by comparison to a new extreme. And ISIS, which openly practiced child rape and burned people to death, conveniently provided that extreme.
That’s how Obama justified allying with Islamic terrorists to fight Islamic terrorism.
Even if the distinction between the Islamic terrorists and the other terrorists was that they were splinter groups with internal rivalries that still made them our sworn enemies.
ISIS had started life as Al Qaeda in Iraq. When the Obama administration armed the Free Syrian Army, it was also arming Al Qaeda affiliates like the Al Nusra Front which worked together with FSA units. And it also ended up arming ISIS when Al Nusra units defected to it.
Al Qaeda and ISIS were not fundamentally different entities. ISIS was a splinter group of Al Qaeda. Similarly, ISIS-K is a splinter group of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The Biden administration is staffed by Obama’s old gang and is repeating the same experiment.
ISIS-K began life as a project of the Pakistani Taliban. Officially, the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are at odds with each other because the Afghan Taliban are backed by Pakistan, while the Pakistani Taliban want to take over Pakistan. Unofficially, the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban covertly cooperate together. The component of the Taliban with the closest ties to the Pakistani Taliban is the Haqqani Network. And both the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani Network are also closely intertwined and have worked together with Al Qaeda.
The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban both started out as Pashtun Jihadis in Afghanistan.
To believe that the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS-K are fundamentally different, you have to believe that the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are fundamentally different. And they’re not.
They’re strategically different in that one fights Pakistan and the other doesn’t.
In the same way the Taliban claim that there are differences between them and the Haqqani Network, and differences between the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda, and between Al Qaeda and ISIS-K. Yet they can’t tell ISIS-K’s Jihadis apart from their own Jihadis.
The Taliban insisted after September 11 that there was no proof that Osama bin Laden was behind September 11. The Taliban’s spokesman is back to insisting that “there is no evidence. Even after 20 years of war, we have no proof he was involved.” Osama bin Laden had taken credit for the attacks long ago, but the Taliban are still maintaining plausible deniability.
Why keep up the plausible deniability after Biden pulled out? Because more attacks are coming.
Front Page Magazine readers already knew that ISIS-K’s new leader had been a former commander of the Taliban’s Haqqani Network. The Taliban had put the Haqqani Network in charge of security in Kabul and around the airport. The checkpoints leading to the airport were controlled by the Haqqani Network. Badri 313, a Haqqani elite unit linked to multiple suicide bombings, could be seen wearing American equipment and providing security at the airport. And then marching in to seize the remaining equipment, including choppers, left by Biden.
But the Haqqani speciality is terrorism. With Americans gone, where will it strike next?
We’re not supposed to ask questions like that about our new “Afghan partners”, whom Gen. McKenzie found “significantly helpful”. The Biden administration’s cronies assure us that the Taliban will be fighting their “archenemy” ISIS-K on our behalf with all that military hardware.
Some of these folks made the same promises about the billion dollars in arms that went to Syrian Jihadis. But then it turned out that the Free Syrian Army, Al Qaeda proxies like the Al Nusra Front and occasionally even ISIS were surprisingly flexible and interchangeable.
Jihadist alliances, like gender identities on college campuses, are quite fluid.
Take Al-Haq, the former leader of Osama bin Laden’s Black Guard, who got a makeover as a Taliban official and then turned up in Doha as part of the Taliban’s “prisoner commission”. An interview described him as being “in negotiations with the U.S. in Qatar on the sidelines of Taliban-U.S. talks for the release of thousands of Taliban prisoners.”
The Al Qaeda and Taliban figure argued that, “Many al-Qaida members got Afghan citizenship during the tenure of mujahedeen leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, and they now call themselves Afghan nationals.” And as Afghan nationals, they were eligible to be released.
Al-Haq suggested that Al Qaeda would follow the Taliban’s lead. And that if the Taliban needed to pressure the United States, “then it would be the Taliban’s compulsion to provide space to al-Qaida and other foreign mujahedeen to operate.”
Al-Haq’s presence, along with the role of a Haqqani on the Taliban negotiating team, made it clear that the Taliban did not intend to end their ties with Al Qaeda. And that the boundaries between Al Qaeda and the Taliban would remain fluid. Al Qaeda members could become Taliban officials. And Taliban fighters could join groups like the Haqqani Network that were much like Al Qaeda. And Jihadis from the Haqqani Network could go the next step to ISIS-K.
The distinctions, like those between Obama’s good Free Syrian Army Jihadis, the bad Al Qaeda Jihadis, and the worse ISIS Jihadis, allow pro-terrorist administrations to fund Islamic terror.
The rise of ISIS-K was a convenient way to present the Taliban and even Al Qaeda as comparatively moderate, and make it possible to go back to the business of funding terrorism.
And that’s the business that Biden, like Obama, really wants to be in.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.