National Security

The Reason ISIS Desperately Wants to Expand its Foothold in Afghanistan

Beyond its radical expansionist tendencies, there is a much more nefarious reason ISIS desperately wants to expand its foothold in Afghanistan.

According to recent reports, the Islamic State has been expanding its footprint in Afghanistan “with thousands and thousands” of fighters after losing its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

But maintaining a so-called “province” in Afghanistan is small change compared to the group’s grand strategy. According to comments of U.S. intelligence officials in Afghanistan, the recent wave of attacks in the capital of Kabul were merely “practice runs” for even bigger assaults in Europe and the United States.

“This group is the most near-term threat to our homeland from Afghanistan,” said one American official on condition of anonymity, adding that ISIS’s “core mandate” has always been to conduct “external attacks.”

This is indeed a very important point to recognize regarding the Islamic State and the nature of the threat they pose to global security. The geographical “caliphate,” while certainly in important target for the West to annihilate, is not the primary concern. The real danger is the group’s ability to inspire and organize attacks on foreign soil.

From this perspective, ISIS is much more of a danger than the Taliban, the group that garners the most press vis-a- vis Afghanistan. In the end of the day, the Taliban only want control over their own territory. Their global ambitions are basically non-existent. ISIS on the other hand is very much the opposite. Their local territorial aspirations are merely a stepping stone in a bigger vision. They need their provinces only as bases of operation for launching bigger-scale attacks.

Concerns about ISIS run so deep that some officials have allegedly come to see the Taliban, which has also clashed with the group, as a potential partner in containing it. That would be an ironic twist to the 18-year-long Afghanistan saga.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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