The August 26th attacks on American forces in Kabul and the recent designation of a “new” terrorist cell in Afghanistan, are all propaganda pumped into the U.S. system to sow confusion and focus our attention on a new boogeyman: ISIS-K. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, particularly the Quds Force, led by General Qassem Sulaymani until his death, signed a cooperation agreement with the Taliban several years ago. For years, Iran has served as a safe haven for ISIS and al-Qaeda militants injured in Iraq and Syria. After being defeated in Iraq and Syria, Iran provided these two forces with safe passage, medical care, retraining, new weapons and equipment, and logistical support to these soldiers. Moving overland from Syria, across Iraq, and into Iran, they had the ability to heal, reequip, and retrain while avoiding air and drone assaults. For at least two years, fighters from these two groups stealthily slipped into Afghanistan from Iran. They blended into the nearby rural communities this time, learned from the 09/11/01 experience, stayed to themselves, paid for food and assistance from the locals, and kept their profile low. Once inside Afghanistan, they were supported and protected by the Taliban. Because of this, the Taliban, Iran, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and a slew of other terrorist organizations like ISIS-K, caused the U.S. to focus on the inconsequential at the cost of the critical.
The following was yesterday’s headline: “Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) killed at least 13 U.S. troops and perhaps over 90 Afghans in a twin suicide bombing and gun attack yesterday outside of Kabul Airport.” The events of that day caused yesterday to be the bloodiest day for the U.S. military since 2011. For a week, U.S. intelligence had warned of such an assault, even expressly advising Americans to avoid the site of the first bombing, Abbey Gate, as it expected more attacks to follow. This leads us to ask the following important questions: What was the U.S. intelligence’s first impression of this group? How were the bombs which killed the 13 U.S. troops brought undetected to the gate area? Who was the first person to coin the phrase “ISIS-K”—is it the Taliban?
This “new group”—IS-K—got picked up by U.S. news outlets and the U.S. intelligence system, and in less than 24 hours, the U.S. intelligence system and new media have been following this group like a cat chasing a laser pointer light. Meanwhile, the Taliban, Iran, ISIS, and al-Qaeda get some breathing room as the U.S. system exhausts itself trying to figure out who is in command of IS-K. For decades, our adversaries have effectively employed this strategy of deception. Since Hezbollah first arose, the Iranians have been masters of deception and media warfare, and they have mystified the U.S. Since 2004. The many “splinter” organizations that formed inside Iraq, initially under the banner of Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), have multiplied and confused the U.S. system. Former terrorist organization leaders Zarqawi and Usama bin Laden fought for years, first as AQ in Iraq, then as IS “Da’esh,” then as ISIS in Iraq, and so on.
Make no mistake, the Taliban is well aware of who accompanied them to Kabul: the Haqqani terrorist network, a varsity first-string terrorist organization known for escorting Usama bin Laden to safety many years ago to give him safe haven and engaging in numerous bombings across the Middle East. Until recently, the heads of the Haqqani terrorist network were locked up in Guantanamo Bay, however, their faces appeared on television just the other day—free and ready to wreak havoc. The Haqqanis have observed, killed, learnt, adjusted, and discovered places to operate outside of the teeth of the U.S. military and intelligence systems throughout the last 20 years, so they understand the U.S., our weaknesses, and our predictable manner of fighting war. We, on the other hand, have learnt nothing and remain predictable in our attempt to persuade our adversaries to attack us in a way where we are most effective, rather than tearing us apart with a thousand-cut approach.
The U.S. was taught a severe lesson on Aug. 21. Doing nothing and asking the Taliban for assistance and protection as we leave Afghanistan will prove to be one of the most irresponsibly foolish and deadly moves made in the last 20 years. The Biden White House appears dejected, anxious, and desperate to halt the political bleeding. The tourniquet is under Taliban control. As long as we allow them, they will bleed us to death and rub our faces in it.
Both the U.S. and the Taliban denounced the assault and pledged to hold IS-K accountable. According to a Wall Street Journal story, the Taliban and IS-K have had a long-standing feud, and the airport bombs “raise the possibility of a lengthier, bloodier battle” between them. This isn’t brand-new information or news. It’s an earned media repeat of the falsehood told in the post-bomb briefing yesterday, which the U.S. system devoured like a largemouth bass swallowing bait on a lure. When we leave Afghanistan and the Taliban retake power, the country’s complicated history will exacerbate the dispute about who is who inside Afghanistan.
Separately, the representatives of Taliban and Panjshiri resistance commander, Ahmad Massoud, met in Parwan and agreed not to attack each other until a second round of “higher level” negotiations had taken place. Now, the graveyard of empires begins a new cycle of power transfers and wars, and renewed problems for U.S. intelligence and the media to identify new flags, name changes, and historic friction spots on the region’s map.
The Sasanian Empire makes its debut. That ought to keep the Americans occupied for a while. They will have a cool flag, though. No one seems to be commenting on the fact that the briefing was given by an Arab who spoke Arabic rather than Dari. Why is that so? This result will go down in history as one of the most infamous U.S. blunders. The Haqqanis must be marveling at their good fortune. To say that they were successful would be an understatement; they walked away with billions of dollars in war loot and the opportunity to control many innocent civilians through their brutal political and war tactics. We just left everything for them; they didn’t even have to fight us to get it.
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