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The New Method Used by the Terrorist Organization ISKP in its Attacks: Assassinations

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After the so-called Emirate of Khorasan (ISKP) of the Daul al-Iraq and Sham (DEAS) terrorist organization brought the global caliphate claim to the agenda during the periods when DEASH gained dominance in Syria and Iraq, radical groups in Afghanistan and its surrounding countries decided to support DEASH. established by notification. After the failure of DAESH in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist organization felt the need to create a “lebensraum” for itself and tried to take advantage of the power vacuum created in the country after the withdrawal of the United States (USA) from Afghanistan. This means that ISKP member terrorists are predominantly legionnaires.

Legionnaires, on the other hand, facilitate the use of terrorist organizations as proxy actors by various intelligence organizations. Because in the 21st century, the nature of war has changed, and especially after the Arab Spring, it has been seen that imperial actors in various countries from Yemen to Syria have turned terrorist organizations into proxy fighters in order to gain maximum gain at the lowest cost.

In this sense, since August 2021, two groups have been targeted in the actions of the ISKP terrorist organization and these attacks have served two purposes. First of all, the terrorist organization ISKP carried out attacks especially on mosques in the regions where Hazaras, also known as Afghan Shiites, live. This indicates that the aim of ISKP is to drag the country into civil war by increasing ethnic and sectarian tensions in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, there is a possibility that a civil war that will start in this country will cause a regional war in time. This strengthens the possibility that the imperialist powers, who want to destabilize the actors in the center of Eurasia, are using the terrorist organization ISKP as a proxy element.

Secondly, it was seen that the ISKP terrorist organization carried out attacks targeting the diplomatic missions, investments and citizens of the countries that developed a positive dialogue with the Taliban. In this sense, it has been seen that China, Pakistan and Russia have become targets. This can be read as ISKP’s message to the countries cooperating with the Taliban that they are not safe, and it also provides an idea about which countries a civil war that will break out in Afghanistan may destabilize.

Moreover, the terrorist organization ISKP increases the pressure of the international community on the Taliban through these attacks. Because the Taliban administration made two important commitments in the Doha Agreement dated February 29, 2020.[1] The first of these; Terrorist organizations will not be allowed to exist in Afghanistan, the country will be prevented from becoming a safe harbor for terrorist organizations, and therefore the fight against terrorism will be fought.[2] However, the terrorist organization DEASH is trying to turn it into a “life zone” through the aforementioned attacks. At the same time, the organization is in an effort to create the perception that “Taliban has failed in the fight against terrorism” and therefore “Afghanistan cannot be governed”.

Secondly, the Taliban declared in the aforementioned agreement that no attack can be carried out against any state from the territory of Afghanistan. However, embassies are recognized as the territory of the State in accordance with international law. In other words, in theory, DEASH targets foreign states by using the territory of Afghanistan through the terrorist attacks in question. This means that the Doha Treaty has been violated. As it can be understood from here, the actions of the terrorist organization ISKP deepen the international legitimacy problem of the Taliban and mainly aim to end the administration of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Recently, it is seen that the ISKP terrorist organization has turned to assassinations as a new attack method and has started to target the Taliban leaders in these attacks. As a matter of fact, on March 8, 2023, ISKP killed the Head of the Water Affairs Department in Herat province. On March 9, 2023, the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the Taliban’s Balkh Governor, Mohammed Davud Muzammil, and two people with him. On March 15, 2023, the terrorist organization targeted the Nangarhar Governor of the Taliban; but the unsuccessful took charge of the attack.[3]

The attacks in question mean that the terrorist organization DEASH is now giving the message to the names working for the Taliban that they are not safe. Therefore, it can be said that assassinations may increase in Afghanistan and the Taliban rulers may become clear targets. It can be argued that this situation aims to create a perception that the Taliban cannot provide security.

As a result, the terrorist organization ISKP, which operates to destabilize Afghanistan and its neighbors, increases the ethnic and sectarian violence in the country, while serving the scenario of first civil war and then regional war; On the other hand, it is positioned as a proxy actor serving the strategy to isolate the Taliban by targeting countries that have dialogue with the Taliban. As of this point, assassinations have been included in the attack method of the ISKP terrorist organization and the Taliban leaders have also become targets. This indicates that the organization’s actions aimed at destabilizing Afghanistan in particular and the region in general can be talked about more frequently. Therefore, it seems that the fight against DAESH will continue to be the most important issue of regional security on the Central Asia-South Asia line. However, every crisis also contains some opportunities. Because the fight against terrorism can also open the door to a security-based regional cooperation process.


[1] “Joint Declaration between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”, State.gov, https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/02.29.20-US-Afghanistan-Joint-Declaration.pdf, (Date of Accession: 23.03.2023).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “A String of Assassinations in Afghanistan Point to ISIS-K Resurgence – and US Officials Warn of Possible Attacks on American Interests in Next 6 Months”, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/a-string-of-assassinations-in-afghanistan-point-to-isis-k-resurgence-and-us-officials-warn-of-possible-attacks-on-american-interests-in-next-6-months-201852, (Date of Accession: 23.03.2023).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.