WC: Anatol, thank you for taking the time to talk. Maybe we should begin with some of the basics and then move on from there. Let’s begin with the people who launched the suicide attack on the airport on August 26th. Who is the Islamic State in the Khorasan Province or ISKP?
Anatol Lieven: Well, they are a pretty motley bunch. The first thing to note is that they’re not Arabs. I mean ISKP was not founded by and their leadership is not made up of Arabs who’ve moved to Afghanistan from the Middle East. So they’re not, in that sense, an offshoot of ISIS. Instead, they’re one of these local movements which has taken the name of ISIS.
They’re made up of three main elements. The first are Pakistani, mainly Pashtun militants belonging to the Pakistani Taliban who were driven over the border back into Afghanistan by the Pakistan army when it launched its offensive to crush the rebellion in Pakistan in recent years. The second major element are international fighters in Afghanistan, often from the former Soviet Union: Chechens, Dagestanis, Uzbeks, together with some Arab fighters who fled from Iraq and Syria. The third element are defectors from the Afghan Taliban who defected for one reason or another, sometimes because they were angered by Taliban negotiations with the West or by Taliban promises not to support international jihad.
But the main thing you should know about ISKP is that they are committed to continuing international jihad. They’ve always made that absolutely clear and indeed they have to be because their membership is made up of people who for obvious reasons are committed to continue the terror campaigns in the former Soviet Union and in Pakistan. […]
So, they are a variety of hard men, if you like, who really want to use Afghanistan as a base for international jihad. There has been a very fierce rivalry between ISKP and the Afghan Taliban for power and major battles between them. And in fact when I was last in Afghanistan, I was told that there had been de facto cooperation between the Taliban, the Afghan government forces, and the US Air Force against ISIS. Läs artikel