Human nature in America is such that Americans are always the last to recognize national threats to their security. Indicative of this is the fact that while the rest of the world observes fast approaching cataclysmic events with trepidation, Americans argue over semantics and valuable time is spent protecting the dubious integrity of our administration.
Those Americans who do observe and analyze world events, especially as they pertain to the spread of Islamic terrorism, try in vain to sound the alarm — but our past and present indicate that we will suffer the shock of another tragedy such as 9/11 and follow with cries of, “Why did someone not see this coming.”
Another more advantageous fact in America, however, is that we always get another chance to do the right thing. That chance is presenting itself today and hopefully we will choose to respond appropriately — and in advance this time. Daily we’re being provided signs of an approaching “perfect storm” of events as they pertain to Islamic terrorism; events which will dramatically alter the field in our efforts to combat this evil.
While we generally ignore the increasing strength and determination of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, and argue on a national level the correct nomenclature of the Taliban, in the background alliances are quietly forming. Once these alliances are sealed, several things will naturally follow: other Islamic terrorist groups which may have resisted combining forces will be more inclined to forgo any such concerns and become part of the movement for fear of being left out.
Groups aligned under a common chain of command will enjoy streamlined efforts and successful results which will only encourage further strengthening. Success will generate increased recruitment and funding. And the rest of the world, specifically Americans, will find themselves embroiled in a full scale war against a radically empowered enemy.
A somewhat smaller factor in the buildup of this storm will come from Afghanistan. As American and allied troops approach full withdrawal, our absence will trigger a chain of events that will ultimately strengthen the global alliance of Islamic terror groups. Taliban leaders from several different factions there and in Pakistan have publicly vowed to strike back against us in retaliation for what they perceive as years of subjugation.
Prior to his death in 2007, Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah, a powerful Pakistani Taliban leader in Bajur responsible for the movement of fighters and weapons across the frontier and attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan, vowed the Taliban would soon take its jihad to the shores of America.
Other Taliban leaders, including Supreme Taliban Commander Mullah Mohammad Omar, have in the recent past expressed similar sentiments — indicating the once localized extremist terror group has become incentivized to strike back against America on a global scale. America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan — leaving behind a government which is still incapable of providing security for the country –is seen by jihadist groups throughout the Middle East as a victory for Islamic extremism, and will serve to embolden them.
Until a few months ago, a close connection between the Afghan Taliban and any other terror group was considered unlikely. Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Mohammad Omar enjoyed a close relationship with Osama bin Laden in early 2000, but that was seen as more of a politically expedient connection.
But when US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden, documents found in his house established a close working relationship between top Al Qaeda leaders and Mullah Omar which included detailed discussions of joint operations against ISAF in Afghanistan. The records indicated there was an enthusiastic willingness on the part of the Taliban commander to form alliances to achieve common goals.
For its part, ISIS, too, has begun to recruit in Afghanistan — a development very few in the State Department would have admitted was even a remote possibility. But intelligence has confirmed ISIS began operations to recruit in that country less than a month after America officially ended its involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom. The savage jihadi group’s recruitment efforts in the Helmand Province — a former stronghold of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan and one of the deadliest regions of the country for US and Afghan forces — are accompanied by bold displays of the black ISIS flag. Recruitment efforts are being led by Mullah Abdul Rauf, a former senior Taliban commander who was released from Guantanamo Bay (GITMO).
Editor’s note: Read more about Rauf and his jihadist ties in Homeland Security Today’s recent in-depth report on freed GITMO jihadists.
Taliban Commander Mirwais of the Hezb-e-Islami (HIG), a group notorious for its brutality, recently referred to ISIS fighters as the “great mujahedeen.” He further stated he was anxious to see if ISIS “met the requirements” for a true Islamic caliphate. “We pray for them,” he declared, “and if we don’t see a problem in the way they operate, we will join them.”
A significant comparison on this subject should be made to America’s withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. Although valiant efforts were made by many American soldiers and government officials to protect the thousands of Vietnamese who had allied with us — including some efforts that specifically violated American protocol — most were left behind. When North Vietnam rolled in to take control of Saigon, most of those we left behind not executed on-site were forced to swear allegiance to the north. Had North Vietnam been intent on taking the fight against America past their own shores, there is no doubt these individuals would have joined in this effort.
America is leaving behind in Afghanistan a similar number of Afghani men and women who worked closely with NATO forces, many at high operational levels. To assume Taliban forces reasserting their authority will not exact revenge on these individuals is absurd. Those who are not subject to revenge will almost certainly be forced to join the Taliban, while many others will be absorbed by ISIS. Exacerbating this situation will be the high number of disaffected youth angered by what they see asAmerica once again abandoning an ally.
The probability that ISIS will establish a secure foothold in Afghanistan — and an eventual alliance with many of the Taliban networks there — is too extreme a threat to ignore. Shared goals and a common hatred for America will assure it.
In addition to a Taliban/ISIS alliance, the Al Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden"), also has signaled its intentions to explore avenues for cooperating with ISIS. Announcing its intention to create an Islamic caliphate, Boko Haram appears to be laying the groundwork for coordination between the groups. If successful, this would create an alliance that, by itself, covers the areas from Western Africa to Southeast Asia. Recent public announcements by Boko Haram have utilized a common anthem used by ISIS, fueling assumptions of a potential alliance. Boko Haram has indicated a willingness to align with other jihadist groups by agreeing to partner with Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb.
It’s only a matter of time before the alliances begin to form. The most brutal and the most successful among all the Islamist jihadi groups and jihad leaders is ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, who also once was in US custody. A clearly advantageous next step for these jihadist groups is unification and continuation of targeting the most vulnerable among us. From a jihadist’s perspective, obstacles in the way of such mutually beneficial alliances pale in comparison to the benefits to achieving their ideological goals.
Editor’s note: Read more about Al Baghdadi’s release in the Homeland Security Today report, There Will be Blood: Freeing the Vilest of the Vile from GITMO.
So, while America has made every effort to disengage with the rest of the world, assuming naively that “all will be well,” our enemies have chosen to take the opportunity to strengthen and form allegiances. We ignore at our extreme peril the declaration of Abu Mosa, spokesman for ISIS, who stated, “I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
Contributing Writer Godfrey Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from US Special Forces in 2006. He served two military tours and six civilian government related tours in Afghanistan. His work there most recently was as a counter-corruption analyst. Garner previously wrote about jihadi groups’ unification in his Homeland Security Today report, The Potential that Jihadi Groups will Unify … and With it, More Savagery. Garner also is author of, Danny Kane and the Hunt for Mullah Omar, and, The Balance of Exodus.
Also read the recent Homeland Security Today report, Obama Schedules ‘Violent Extremism’ Summit, But Still Unable to Acknowledge Islamist Jihad, by Senior Editor Amanda Vicinanzo and Editor-in-Chief Anthony Kimery.