A little more than a month after toppling the Western-backed government in Kabul, Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are facing internal enemies who have adopted many of the tactics of urban warfare that marked their own successful guerrilla campaign.
A deadly attack on Kabul airport last month and a series of bomb blasts in the eastern city of Jalalabad, all claimed by the local affiliate of Islamic State, have underlined the threat to stability from violent terrorist groups who remain unreconciled to the Taliban.
While the movement’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has downplayed the threat, saying this week that Islamic State had no effective presence in Afghanistan, commanders on the ground do not dismiss the threat so lightly.
Two members of the movement’s intelligence services who investigated some of the recent attacks in Jalalabad said the tactics showed the group remained a danger, even if it did not have enough fighters and resources to seize territory.
Using sticky bombs – magnetic bombs usually stuck to the underside of cars – the attacks targeted Taliban members in exactly the same way the Taliban itself used to hit officials and civil society figures to destabilize the former government.