Recent terror attacks in Afghanistan indicate that violence continues unabated even as peace talks progress between the Afghan Taliban and the United States. There seems to be ample evidence that terrorist groups are well active in the country even as the United States looks to negotiate an exit. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) estimated in June 2019 that there are 8,000-10,000 foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) in Afghanistan (out of which 2,500-4,000 are affiliated to the Islamic State in Khorasan [IS-K] which is anti-Taliban and Al-Qaeda) that operate under Taliban authority in multiple provinces at ‘undiminished levels.” The UN assesses that the Taliban is the “primary partner” of Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network (Miranshah Shura Taliban), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (non-IS-K faction) and the Turkestan Islamic Party, “as well as nearly 20 others regionally and globally focused groups” in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and IS-K consider Afghanistan an important region to recuperate and plan their next phase of operations. In case of a weakening central authority and security vacuum in the country these groups will increase in strength and influence and might shift their operations abroad posing regional and global security risks.
Saurav Sarkar is a Research Associate at the Center for Air Power Studies, Western Air Command, New Delhi, India. Previously, he was a Research Assistant at the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), New Delhi. He holds a Masters degree in International Relations from Amity Institute of International Studies, Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India where he is a Member of its Area Advisory Board. He did his BA (Honors) in English from the same university. He is also qualified to be an Assistant Professor as per the University Grants Commission – National Eligibility Test requirements. His research interests include counter-terrorism, Afghanistan, Chinese naval strategies in the Indo-Pacific, and China-Pakistan strategic ties. Currently analysing terrorism trends in South Asia with emphasis on the Islamic State and its affiliates; studying terrorist propaganda/writings and examining related government reports.