Afghanistan’s Taliban have pushed back against a leaked American military assessment claiming the Islamic State is using the country to plan and coordinate international terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.
The secret document has reportedly portrayed the threat as a growing security concern. It noted that Afghan soil had become a base for the regional affiliate of the terrorist outfit, known as Islamic State-Khorasan or IS-K to conduct “aspirational plotting” against U.S. and European targets.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Sunday refuted the assessment, calling it “fake” and part of an “ongoing propaganda campaign” against their governmen
An official statement quoted Mujahid as saying the Taliban government “has full control” over Afghanistan and does not allow anyone to use its soil for attacks against other countries. He said that IS-K and other terrorist groups in in the country “have been severely affected and are in the process of being destroyed.”
Mujahid added that the Taliban had brought security to Afghanistan since regaining control of the country in August 2021, citing peaceful celebrations of the three-day, nationwide, annual Eid festival, which ended Sunday.
“It is obvious that the spread of such biased reports shows that some people in America have not forgotten their hatred and enmity with the people of Afghanistan,” he said. The Washington Post reported the Afghanistan-related U.S. intelligence findings, saying they are part of a trove posted to the social media platform Discord and obtained by the newspaper.
“ISIS has been developing a cost-effective model for external operations that relies on resources from outside Afghanistan, operatives in target countries, and extensive facilitation networks,” the newspaper reported, citing the top-secret Pentagon secret assessment.
“The model will likely enable ISIS to overcome obstacles — such as competent security services — and reduce some plot timelines, minimizing disruption opportunities,” The Post reported, citing the assessment, which used an acronym for IS-K.
The leaked document reportedly detailed specific efforts to target embassies, churches, business centers and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, which drew more than 2 million spectators last November in Qatar.
The U.S. military assessment raised the number of Islamic State plots coordinated in Afghanistan from nine to 15.
The Taliban reclaimed control of the country in August 2021 from the then-internationally backed government in Kabul as the U.S. and NATO troops chaotically withdrew after nearly two decades of involvement in the Afghan war.
U.S. officials have not verified the authenticity of the leaked documents, but the IS-K threat from Afghanistan has been a concern for the military.
Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, warned last month that IS-K had strengthened under the Taliban’s rule.
“They can do external operations against U.S. or Western interests abroad in under six months with little to no warning,” Kurilla told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The United States’ longest-running war ended in August 2021, when President Joe Biden withdrew the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan after two decades of conflict and the loss of 2,400 American forces. The withdrawal was marred by tragedy when an IS-K suicide bomber killed scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. soldiers at the airport in Kabul.
U.S. senators said Wednesday the leak of top-secret military intelligence records by a 21-year-old U.S. Air National Guard member should prompt a serious reevaluation of security procedures in the United States.
The suspect, Jack Teixeira, was arrested April 13 by FBI agents at his mother’s residence in Dighton, Massachusetts. He faces criminal charges for allegedly leaking those documents to a group of friends on the gamer website. His scheduled detention hearing was delayed by two weeks.