Following is our translation of an article from Svobodnaya Pressa, which has been carried in other Russian state-owned media as well. We recommend you supplement this information with an article from TheDuran which states:
“Katehon, a think-tank dedicated to the protection of nations’ sovereignty against invasions and coups from abroad, headlined, on May 15th, “Special Services Agent: Attack on Russia Is Being Prepared”, and reported that [with editorial clarifications and links supplied by me in brackets]:
According to Russian and Chinese law enforcement agencies, militants fleeing by sea from Syria and Iraq follow a route from the Qasim port in the Pakistani city of Karachi to Peshawar, and are then distributed along the Nangarhar province in the east of the country…”
Remember that the CIA originally supported terrorists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, leading to the creation of the Taliban. Analysts believe this interference in a sovereign country may have ultimately supported Osama bin Laden and led indirectly to the 9-11 attacks. Clearly, no matter the immediate goal, US support for terror is always a dangerous idea in the long run.
Quotes in this translation are from the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Antiterrorist Centre. Reference is made to the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), a UN observer organization, which includes as members Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Azerbaijan and Georgria.
ISIS 2.0 digs into Russia’s underbelly
Svobodnaya Pressa February 21, 2018
The remnants of the "Islamic State" group that were routed in Syria and Iraq* moved to neighbouring countries, the head of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] Antiterrorist Centre, Andrei Novikov, said at a meeting of the heads of national centres in Odintsovo.
"After the bulk of the combat core of ISIS was dismantled, its ‘fragments’ were evacuated to other regions. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, a new base for the deployment of ISIS* is being formed, replacing what was lost in Syria and Iraq,” Novikov said.
He noted that ISIS actually "conducts rebranding", remaining "both as a global religious and political project, and as a military-political model."
According to Novikov, the transit of militants to Afghanistan is being conducted according to the same pattern as in Iraq and Syria.
"In view of the information coming from our partners, we see a possible scenario for the activity of ISIS in Afghanistan in the near future. There are reasons to believe that ISIS will strive to gain control over heroin traffic,” the head of the centre added.
In October last year, the head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, noted that the militants routed in Syria are moving to Afghanistan, where they are attempting to launch attacks against Russia.
- Yes, now there are all the signs that the Americans are contributing to the strengthening of ISIS* on the territory of Afghanistan with the goal that then Islamists can expand therefrom, including to the territory of Central Asia, - says the head of the department of Central Asia and Kazakhstan of the Institute of CIS countries Andrey Grozin. - In Kabul from the bazaar and to the parliament, people have been talking about some unidentified helicopters that are dropping "bearded men" into the countryside. A peculiarity of Afghanistan is that it is problematic to transport people there over long distances, because there is simply no road network. Ever since the Americans came to Afghanistan, work has been ongoing to build a ring road linking the main cities of the country. But it has not been completed yet, and besides, it is quite problematic to carry a large number of armed bearded men - obviously not citizens of Afghanistan. Especially through territories that are controlled by tribal militias and other armed groups.
Svobonaya Pressa: In other words, the Americans want to build another Syria next to the underbelly of Russia?
- We can’t yet say with one hundred percent certainty that the main goal of ISIS in Afghanistan will be precisely expansion to the post-Soviet space. Yes, there are already militant camps, entire counties in the provinces are controlled by ISIS detachments. Of course, the Taliban** is still immensely more influential in Afghanistan. But the ISIS militants are conserving their forces, and in two years everything could radically change. That is why we can’t rule out that we will receive Islamic State 2.0. In Afghanistan. And statements about this kind of danger from both Russian officials and officials of Central Asian countries have become significantly more frequent in the past year. This is also a symptom.
Again, I will make a reservation that ISIS fighters from Syria are fleeing not only to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also to Libya and Indonesia. Therefore, no one can say for now exactly where they will try to arrange the main "hornets' nest.”
SP: - Is it possible that the Taliban and ISIS will merge into a new Islamist organization?
- You cannot completely rule out this option, although it is unlikely. So far they are in fact competitors. It is no coincidence that the leaders of the Taliban spoke out against the appearance of ISIS in the territory of Afghanistan. Thus far it is clear that they are fighting for control of the provinces where they grow specific agricultural crops. Simply put, ISIS is trying to win over some of the proceeds from the drug business. Since otherwise the Islamists simply will lose their subsistence. In Syria and Iraq, the Islamists quickly seized significant financial resources. And besides, they had income from captured oil wells. But in Afghanistan, apart from drugs, they have no source of income. And if the Taliban and ISIS fighters can’t come to terms, the next couple of years we will just watch the struggle between these factions for control over the Afghan drug business.
I do not rule out, however, that because of the growing danger of ISIS expanding, the Taliban will try to come to an agreement with the central Kabul government. Sluggish talks on this topic have been going on before. Part of the moderate Taliban can enter power.
It must also be understood that ISIS, having lost its previous sources of income, has become much less attractive for Islamists, including in Afghanistan. ISIS and its revenues almost dried up, and the sponsors from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia became much less generous. All this does not exclude the possibility of creating on the territory of Afghanistan several rather durable and battle-worthy enclaves with training camps for terrorists.
SP: - Probably, the terrorists trained in these camps can threaten terrorist attacks and post-Soviet states. Do the CSTO countries have leverage to influence the situation?
- In recent years the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] has been actively preparing to repel various forms of military aggression. As for the territory of Afghanistan, we can act there only with diplomatic and political tools. I have already mentioned the forthcoming dialogue between the Karzai Government and the Taliban. Yes, this organization is still banned in Russia. But based on geopolitical considerations, we should be involved in this negotiation process in order to influence it in our interests. The Taliban in general, in my opinion, is rather a nationalist than a terrorist organization. They are primarily interested in power in their country. Expansionary intentions on their part have not been particularly prominent. And precisely in this sense they are interesting to us - as opponents of ISIS.
Again, we need to use changes in the mood of Afghan politicians. The same Karzai, who was originally a one-hundred percent US protégé, now often talks about friendship with Russia and about how badly Americans behave. Everything is changing. [NSS highlighting]
By the way, the recent fake report about the supply of Russian weapons to the Taliban just shows that the Americans are afraid we will begin to motivate some armed groups in Afghanistan to test the strength of US military bases in this country. No one has done this in any serious manner so far.
SP: - And how popular are the ideas of radical Islamists in Central Asia. Will the ISIS fighters blow up the situation from within them?
- Yes, the ideas are popular. On the territory of Afghanistan, there are already groups, consisting largely of immigrants from the post-Soviet republics. And in Central Asia itself, in weak states there are so many internal problems that Afghanistan could become a veritable detonator. Of course, it is unlikely that terrorists will use columns from Afghanistan to storm cities in Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan. They understand that in this case they will easily be crushed by Russian air forces and other CSTO troops. But the same ISIS militants can easily raise the level of terrorist activity.
In Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, intelligence agencies are already uncovering new under-ground cells of ISIS. By the way, Uzbekistan is undergoing complicated processes related to the reform of security agencies. And, the situation in Central Asia as a whole also largely depends on how this situation is resolved. Local special services can successfully fight against home-grown extremists. But they can’t cope with international terrorism. Therefore, Russia is vitally interested in helping the special services of all the republics of Central Asia. Otherwise, if the situation is triggered, terrorism will inevitably spread to our territory.
And the visa regime is of little help, since tens of thousands of people from Central Asia have already obtained Russian citizenship. And providing protective systems for the longest border of Russia with Kazakhstan is an extremely complex and expensive task.
*The "Islamic State" (ISIS) by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of December 29, 2014 was recognized as a terrorist organization; its activities are prohibited on the territory of Russia.
**By decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003, the Taliban movement was recognized as a terrorist organization and banned in Russia