Could the Taliban's Afghanistan success inspire a new wave of Jihadist extremism?

By Ollie Campbell

The recent success of the Taliban could cause a ripple effect across terrorist or potential terrorist groups wanting to make a move against Western states.


As a result of 9/11, Afghanistan was invaded by the US and NATO troops on 7 October 2001. This was in the hopes of capturing al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. However, Taliban forces made this extremely hard for the Americans by not just protecting Bin Laden, but also providing al-Qaeda forces with training facilities. Fortunately, the anti-Taliban troops were able to drive the Taliban out of Kabul, mostly due to the extensive budget offered by the US.


Having seen the damage that Western forces could unveil on terrorist groups, successors to Bin Laden have been constrained to living in hiding. The recent addition of drone strikes to developed militaries has only further driven Jihadist groups away. However, the recent success of the Taliban in Afghanistan could cause a ripple effect across terrorist or potential terrorist groups, wanting to make a move against Western states.


The violent Jihadist Islamism that al-Qaeda is rooted in, has not been defeated. Conflicts are rife across the African Sahel and large parts of Asia, including: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Despite this, it remains unlikely that all these separate groups of extremists clump together to take down the ‘global enemies’ of the US and its Western allies. Lamentably, this still creates the problem of regional distress caused by these groups. This will bring about suffering, destroy livelihoods and force people to leave their homes, potentially creating a refugee crisis for surrounding countries also. These extremists generate nothing but instability.


The increase in technology over the last twenty years has no doubt made it significantly easier for anti-terrorist forces to identify, locate and track attacks. However, the ability for zealots to communicate and spread their message, is mostly by coercion. Every year, the efforts to counter violent extremism has to increase. The US alone had over seven thousand troops stationed in a handful of African countries, with training missions in almost every country on the continent – the predominant focus being Militant Islamism.


For the Jihadists, the capturing of Afghanistan and Taliban return to power has been the most successful undertaking since the Islamic State ‘caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq in 2014. This had a knock-on effect that caused terror attacks across Europe and South East Asia whilst arguably being a much smaller triumph than the current Taliban occupation. For over thirty years, Islamists have never seized power of a country from a superpower, until now. The rapid power gain of the Taliban has highlighted not only the strength of Jihadist groups but the weakness of Western countries in response. The shambles the US and its allies has shown in Afghanistan has led to the Taliban controlling a huge amount of weaponry and an abysmal evacuation plan.


This could play out in several ways, but the success for the Taliban in Afghanistan could cause a global terrorism issue as the dominoes begin to fall and the Jihadist groups gain momentum. Should this morale boost transform into actual power gain, the next decade could show a dramatic shift in extremist movements across the globe.


Image credit: News Online

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