Uprooting terrorism: Kabul terror attack lesson

Published August 29, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Global outrage continues to be expressed over the heinous terrorist attack on crowds waiting to be evacuated from the Kabul airport last August 26.  According to the Afghan Health Ministry, the death toll has risen to more than 170 killed and at least 200 wounded.

Thirteen US soldiers were among the fatalities.

”We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” said US President Joe Biden, mirroring the sentiments of other world leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Even the new Taliban government in Kabul condemned the carnage.  It pointed out that this happened in an area controlled by the US military that is now in the final phases of evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked for the government, civil society members, journalists and human rights activists.

A group known as ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for the attack.  According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, its terror attacks have killed more than 1,000 since its formation in 2018, making it the world’s fourth deadliest terror group.

This gruesome incident happened barely two weeks before the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on New York City and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Recall that Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, prompting President George W. Bush to send US troops to Afghanistan.  After US forces failed to capture him in the Afghanistan, bin Laden reportedly fled to Pakistan where elite US Navy SEALS commandos killed him in 2011.

President Biden’s decision to end US military presence in Afghanistan hastened the march to Kabul of the Taliban forces and triggered the mass evacuation of those who feared harm and retribution from them. Ironically, the Taliban that were dislodged by the Americans in their pursuit of bin Laden have regained power — and another terror group whose roots are linked to the 911 attacks has surfaced.

Colin Clarke, author of “After the Caliphate: The Islamic State and the Future of the Terrorist Diaspora,” revealed to CNN in an interview before the Kabul airport attack occurred that ISIS-K “has little interest in political governance “ unlike the militant Taliban that have gained power in Afghanistan. Even in the face of the Taliban rulers’ avowed goal to establish an Islamic caliphate, ISIS insists on a stricter enforcement of Shariah law.

Such is the enormity of the continuing danger posed by terrorism.

The European Union’s counter-terrorism strategy consists of four pillars, namely, “prevent, protect, pursue, and respond.” Much has been done to stem the tide of global terrorism since the 911 attack two decades ago. Beyond capturing and punishing the perpetrators of the Kabul carnage, the root-causes of terrorism must be confronted.  Meanwhile, utmost vigilance and preparedness are imperative.