Global terrorism second priority as West focuses on great power competition, report says

The Soufan Center (TSC), an independent policy research organization, in a recent report has said that for many countries in the West, particularly the US and its allies, global security threat pertains to a second-tier priority while focus on great power competition remains exclusive as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on.

This research entity has stated that the continuation of the war in Ukraine has shifted the international focus on great power competition between the major superpowers who view it as a top priority rather than the threat of terrorism particularly stemming from Afghanistan.

“In terms of policy bandwidth and resource allocation, counterterrorism has been relegated to a second-tier priority. This is true even as the global terrorist threat continues to evolve and assume new forms, and intersects closely with geopolitical dynamics in many contexts.” Part of the report reads.

TSC citing a recent UN Security Council monitoring report on the security situation in Afghanistan states that many local and transnational terrorist outfits, such as Al-Qaeda, have been reconstituting in Afghanistan, signaling a serious terrorism threat posed by these groups to the region and the world.

“Al-Qaeda is establishing new training camps throughout the country, including in Badghis, Helmand, Nangarhar, Nuristan, and Zabul provinces. These training camps will allow Al-Qaeda to rebuild its infrastructure and logistical networks, mobilize new recruits through its propaganda and ideology, and reconstitute an external operations capability to conduct transnational attacks.” The report states citing the UNSC monitoring report.

In addition, the report asserts that the threat of Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP), which the Taliban claims to be its archrival, is expanding as the group is in the process of strengthening into a “more networked organization” and continues to hold training camps and sleeper cells to launch complex and more lethal attacks across Afghanistan.

Terrorist groups, as the TSC report put it, have more freedom of maneuver under the Taliban, and even those that the Taliban oppose, especially ISKP, have been able to capitalize on the Taliban’s “many counterterrorism missteps and governance deficits.”

The ISKP remains unable to oust the Taliban as the UNSC report suggests, and the Taliban seems just as unlikely to eliminate the ISKP which could lead to a situation of durable insecurity and disorder across the country for which civilians are likely to pay the highest price.

TCS also highlights that several other terrorist groups are freely operating across the country including Tehrek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jamaat Ansarullah, and East Turkestan Islamic Movement. These groups reportedly provide additional manpower to the Taliban and are occasionally enlisted to conduct attacks against anti-Taliban groups, including ISK, but also the National Resistance Front (NRF).