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Is ISKP’s Influence Losing Its Effect in Afghanistan?

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The Emirate of Khorasan (ISKP) by the terrorist organization Devlet’ül Iraq and Sham (DEAS) made its name popular to the world with the Hamid Karzai International Airport attack carried out on August 26, 2021. The organization which has based on the geography of Central and South Asia increased its Afghanistan-centered mobility with the withdrawal of the United States of America (USA) from Afghanistan and then the coming of the Taliban to the administration of the country. The organization’s actions over the past year have significantly enhanced its strength. Recently, capturing or destroying in the operations of the key ISKP figures has become a major security issue for the Taliban administration. Brought the question to mind: “Is the organization’s influence in the country breaking down?”.

On March 27, 2023, the Taliban announced that three key members of DAESH were killed in the operations carried out in the center of Balkh Province, Mazar-i-Sharif. It is known that among those killed were the temporary Balkh President of the terrorist organization DAESH and Head of the Judiciary System Maulvi Ziauddin, DAESH Khorasan Council Member Abu Omar Afridi and Salman Tajikistani, who was responsible for military training and organizing the mine system.[1]

The killing of Ziauddin, known as ISKP’s second-in-command, is a terrorist organization’s significant loss. Ziauddin is the brother of Sheikh Jamaluddin, a senior ISKP ideologist who was killed during an airstrike in Nangarhar. He served as the Kunar military commander of the group for eight months, from July 2022 to February 2023. It is also alleged that Ziauddin was recently appointed as the group’s main media representative and appeared in numerous ISKP voice messages and propaganda videos with Sultan Aziz Ezzam.[2]

Kari Fateh, who was reportedly killed in another operation recently, is also a critical director of ISKP. He is known to have planned recent attacks in Kabul, including attacks on diplomatic missions, mosques, and other targets in Afghanistan.[3] Therefore, the killing of Fateh is a success for the Taliban. On the other hand, it is a significant loss for the organization.

The neutralization of Ahmad Ahangar, or the person known as Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, was also the worst loss for ISKP. The organization announced that Kashmiri, known to have close relations with Al Qaeda and other radical terrorist organizations, was killed in a clash on February 14, 2023.[4]

In recent years, the Taliban administration’s operations and raids against ISKP have become more frequent. It has been announced that important DAESH elements have been captured or killed by carrying out activities in certain key regions. Based on the statements made by the Taliban, it is possible to say that two factors are decisive in the frequency of operations.

The first of these; is to show the international public that the Doha Agreement has not been violated and that terrorist activities are prevented. Contrary to the rhetoric of US officials, who claim that ISKP can harm the interests of the West, the Taliban are trying to show that they can cope with the organization.

Secondly, the country tries to show that it was able to ensure the security of the country through its struggle with ISKP and that it defeated the organization by limiting its range of action. Thus, it could be said that a message was given to the groups acting together with ISKP and DAESH.

As it is known, in the last few months, a conflict dynamic has emerged in the form of mutual actions. The organization has started targeting high-ranking officials of the Taliban against their own losses. Finally, on March 27, 2023, an attack occurred near the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ISKP has acted for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before. It can be said that such an attack was organized again in the face of the killing of many important figures, including Kari Fateh, who was among the planners of the attack in question. At least six civilians were killed, and scores injured, including three Taliban security personnel, in the new suicide attack. ISKP claimed responsibility for this attack. [5]

While the organization suffered significant losses on the one hand; On the other hand, high-profile attacks can be read as a part of the terrorist organization’s survival strategy. Because high-level attacks also serve the purpose of showing the power of ISKP to the DEASH leadership and raising the image of the terrorist organization.

On the other hand, the death of key members may again lead to discrediting in the eyes of the central leadership, as it demonstrates the failure against the Taliban. In order to prevent this, the organization sought compensation for itself with high-profile attacks. Therefore, the attack on the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the assassinations of the top leaders of the Taliban can be interpreted as the output of DAESH’s efforts to show that it maintains its power.

Despite the effort of the terrorist organization, the loss of key figures led by ISKP may negatively affect the propaganda activities of the organization to increase its influence. However, the continuation of high-level attacks with casualties reveals that the threat posed by the group in Afghanistan should not be underestimated.

As a result, ISKP poses a significant threat to Afghanistan and the region in general. However, neutralizing the top executives of the terrorist organization may herald the defeat of ISKP.


[1] “3 Key Daesh Members Killed: Intelligence Directorate”, Tolonews, https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-182696#, (Date of Access: 27.03.2023).

[2] “Maulvi Ziauddin, ISKP Second-in-command, Killed in Afghanistan”, Tribune, https://tribune.com.pk/story/2408442/maulvi-ziauddin-iskp-second-in-command-killed-in-afghanistan, (Date of Access: 27.03.2023).

[3] Ibid.

[4] “قوات «طالبان» تقتل كبار قادة «داعش» فى كابول”, Albawabh News, https://www.albawabhnews.com/4762452, (Date of Access: 27.03.2023).

[5] “Blast Happens Near Foreign Ministry in Kabul”, Tolonews, https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-182691, (Date of Access: 27.03.2023).

Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY
Şeyma KIZILAY, 2016 yılında Erciyes Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2019 yılında Kırşehir Ahi Evran Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası İlişkilerde Ulus İnşası Bağlamında Irak Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora eğitimine Uludağ Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda devam eden Kızılay, tez aşamasındadır. Başlıca çalışma alanları; güvenlik, terörizm, Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Kızılay, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede Arapça bilmektedir.