Terror blasts in Kabul mosque, and global implications 

New DelhiWritten By: Shantanu MukharjiUpdated: Sep 01, 2022, 07:58 PM IST
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Afghan men walk past the blue dome of a mosque a day after the blast in the outskirts of Kabul on August 18, 2022. Photograph:(AFP)

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The Kabul mosque explosion is only a tip of the iceberg as Al Qaeda (AQ) and IS menace has yet to be tackled on a war footing

All those who were rejoicing over the Taliban coming back to power in Afghanistan a year ago after US troops’ withdrawal, were proved totally wrong as for the last one year, Afghanistan has been reeling under a spate of terror attacks of enormous proportions. 

The world at large also learnt a lesson that despite having a religion-driven government in Kabul, violent terror activities are not in control as demonstrated by the Islamic State (IS) sponsored suicide attacks in various parts of Afghanistan exposing its tattered intelligence and security establishment.  

More disturbingly, even places of worships including Gurudwaras and mosques belonging to the minority communities have not been spared as they continued to witness intermittent terror assaults even during the holy months of Ramadan. Such incidents sum up the extent of religious indoctrination prevailing amongst large sections of the Afghan society.

Watch | Taliban celebrates 1st anniversary of US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan

While on one hand, the country is struck with acute food shortage and lack of essential supplies, on the other, it is claiming loss of thousands of innocent lives caused by wanton acts of terror.  

In this regard, a recent explosion (August 17) in a crowded Siddiquiya mosque in the northern Kabul neighbourhood of Khair Khana killed scores of people and injuring over thirty merits attention.  

Lamentably, the blast took place during the peak hours of evening prayers and even the Imam of the mosque perished due to the lethal explosion.  The blast was so powerful that not only many people were killed, even people were thrown out of the window of the mosque. Coincidentally, earlier, a week before this blast, IS terrorists had killed a pro-Taliban religious leader in a suicide bomb blast, also in Kabul.

In this blast under reference, the attack came ahead of Ashura, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, which is observed mainly by the Shi’ite Muslims.  

Importantly, Islamic State (IS) does not control any territory in Afghanistan but it has its’ sleeper cells that have been attacking religious minorities in the country as well as patrols by the ruling Taliban. 

However, the Sunni Muslim Taliban authorities, who took over Afghanistan in August last year after a two-decade of absence, have disclosed that they would provide more protection to Shi’ite mosques and other facilities. 

Yet, Sayed Kazum Hojat, a Shi’ite religious scholar based in Kabul, said the Taliban government had beefed up security ahead of Ashura but should improve its’ vigilance.  

This shows that IS is pursuing an agenda of violent persecution of the minority Shias. Although no up-to-date census data exists, but according to a conservative estimate it puts the size of the Shi’ite community at between 10-20% of the population of 39 million, including Persian-speaking Tajiks and Pashtuns and Hazaras. Such consistency of blasts specially in the places of religious worships ahead and during religious occasions targeting the minorities surely adversely affects the credibility of the Taliban dispensation.

It is also pertinent to point out that Al Qaeda supremo, Ayman al Zawahiri who was killed barely two months ago in the Afghanistan heartland, was suspected to be enjoying the patronage of the Taliban or possibly even the IS.  

The Kabul mosque explosion is only a tip of the iceberg as Al Qaeda (AQ) and IS menace has yet to be tackled on a war footing.  

Al Qaeda Arab Peninsula (AQAP), which dominated the Arab peninsula running it’s writ in Africa, continues to call shots. Only a few weeks ago, Somalia witnessed blatant killings at a Hotel terror attack in capital Mogadishu.  

This only reinforces the suspicion that AQ is very much alive and kicking.  

Addressing the terror concerns arising out of the recent Kabul mosque attack, or for that matter, previous acts of assaults will only be a wee bit of the treatment.  

A complete surgery is called for with the proactive involvement of all the global players affected by the terror malaise. Afghanistan alone cannot handle this problem of such a gigantic magnitude. The threat is because of its own constraints and perhaps lack of resolve to overcome terror perpetrated by ISIS, AQ or even Taliban.     

In the foregoing, it will not be out of context to underline the important role the intelligence community that can play to deal with the terror threat generated by the IS in the region. 

While Pakistan intelligence agencies may not be necessarily keen to share the precious intelligence, even if they are in possession of them. Taliban in Kabul may seek preventable intelligence inputs from India particularly when Afghanistan is exhibiting its’ willingness to allow Indian diplomatic missions to restart their operations at Kabul and other places.  

Such joint professional collaboration is bound to bring in peace and tranquil in the region. This cooperation apart, western countries who were so active till they withdrew from Kabul last year should offer hard intelligence for foiling further terror incidents. Unless there is peace, investments by foreign countries would seem distant and the Afghan people in general will continue to suffer misery, starvation and illiteracy.    

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

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