Terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan gain strength and threaten US interests, report

U.S. policymakers are being advised to focus on mitigating terror threats. 

Published: May 14, 2024 11:01am

Updated: May 14, 2024 12:51pm

Terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are growing stronger and threatening the interests of the United States and its allies as well as security in the region, according to a report released Tuesday.

The United States Institute of Peace, the congressionally-established group that published the report, said that Afghanistan is a fertile area for terrorist threats compared to the time before the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Although the Taliban pledged to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven after it took over the country, the Taliban is providing "material support to terrorist groups," the report states. Additionally, the Taliban's educational policies include a curriculum that promotes jihad, or a religious war, as the path to change, which researchers warn may encourage Taliban followers to perform acts of extremism outside of Afghanistan.  

"While the worst-case scenario concerning al-Qaeda’s reconstitution in
Afghanistan has not materialized, that group and its South Asia affiliate continue to maintain ties with and receive support from the Taliban and to call for attacks against US citizens, allies, and partners (including India) and US interests," the report states.

The Taliban is cracking down on the Islamic State of Khorasan and has effectively reduced the group's acts of terror in Afghanistan since the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 150 other people outside of the Kabul airport during the hectic withdrawal. However, the researchers raise concerns that the group may attempt acts of terrorism in the future outside of Afghanistan.

The report comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concerns immediately after the withdrawal and several times since about potential terrorist attacks in the U.S. connected to Afghanistan.

The institute also advised U.S. policymakers to focus on mitigating terror threats. This includes potentially using diplomatic pressure on the Taliban and the government of Pakistan to mitigate terror threats. The report also states that the Biden administration tightened limits on military actions against terrorist threats, and such restrictions could be loosened.

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