How The CIA Used ISIS-K To Keep Its Afghanistan Business

There is a larger story behind the recent terror events in Afghanistan. Here is an attempt to track it down.

Over the years several reports by the Afghan Analyst Network (AAN) about the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP or ISIS-K) show that it had grown out of militant groups from Pakistan. A report from 2016 describes extensively how they were fostered by the Afghan state:

The IS fighters who pioneered the Khorasan franchise of the IS were Pakistani militants who had long been settled in the southeastern districts of Nangarhar, in the Spin Ghar mountains or its foothills, bordering the tribal agencies on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line.

Before choosing to join ISKP, these militants operated under different brands, mainly under the umbrella of the ever-loosening Tehrik-e Taleban Pakistan (TTP). The bulk of these militants had been arriving in Nangarhar since 2010 mainly from the Orakzai, North Waziristan and Khyber tribal agencies.

Pakistan alleges that the TTP is supported by RAW, India’s secret services. It may have also helped to finance the ISKP outlet.

Hoping to use them against Pakistan, the Afghan government started to woo some of these fighters, according to influential tribal elders involved in helping relation-building from the districts that sheltered the guest militants.

However, efforts by the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), to woo Pakistani militants in Nangarhar have not been confined to Lashkar-e Islam or to militants from Khyber. Tribal elders and ordinary residents of Achin, Nazian and Kot testify that fighters from Orakzai and Mohmand agencies belonging to different factions of the TTP have been allowed free movement across the province, as well as treatment in government hospitals. When moving outside their hub in Nangarhar’s southern districts, they would go unarmed. In off-the-record conversations with AAN, government officials have verified this type of relationship between segments of the Pakistani militants and the NDS, as have pro-government tribal elders and politicians in Jalalabad. They described this state of affairs as a small-scale tit-for-tat reaction to Pakistan’s broader and longer-ranging, institutionalised support to the Afghan Taleban in their fight against the Afghan government.

The Afghan state’s NDS was a CIA proxy agency. During the mid 1990s the intelligence chief of the Northern Alliance, Amrullah Saleh, had been trained by the CIA in the United States. After the U.S. overthrew the Taliban government Saleh became the head of the NDS. The NDS also had extensive relations with India’s secret service.

While the U.S. pretended to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) consistent reports from various sides alleged that core ISIS personnel were extracted by unmarked U.S. helicopters from Iraq and Syria and transferred to Nangarhar where they reinforced the ISKP militants.

Hadi Nasrallah @HadiNasrallah – 1:18 UTC · Aug 28, 2021

In 2017 and 2020, Syria’s SANA reported that that US helicopters transported between 40 and 75 ISIS militants from Hasakah, North Syria to an “unknown area”. The same thing was reported for years in Iraq by the PMU along with reports that US helicopters dropped aid for ISIS.

As Alex Rubinstein summarizes:

The list of governments, former government officials, and organizations in the region that have accused the US of supporting ISIS-K is expansive and includes the Russian government, the Iranian government, Syrian government media, Hezbollah, an Iraqi state-sponsored military outfit and even former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who called the group a “tool” of the United States …

Like in Iraq and Syria the CIA’s fostering of ultra-militant Islamists led to a backlash as the militants increasingly attacked the Afghan state. The U.S. military finally found it necessary to intervene against them. But the fighting against them on the ground was mostly done by the Taliban who for that purpose received direct support from the U.S. air force.

The Taliban operations were successful and a further spread of ISKP in east Afghanistan was prevented. Instead of openly taking more land ISKP then resorted to sensational suicide bombings against vulnerable targets in Kabul. In May 2021, for example, a car bomb placed in front of Hazara girl school in Kabul killed more than 90 people most of them children.

The CIA and the NDS had additional militants at hand to fight against the Taliban. They had grown and built special forces organized in several battalions (NDS-01 to -04 and the Khost Protection Force (KPF). These CIA controlled death squads had their own helicopter support:

As of 2018, the CIA is engaged in a program to kill or capture militant leaders, codenamed ANSOF, previously Omega. CIA manpower is supplemented with personnel assigned from United States Army Special Operations Command.

In mid–2019, the NGO Human Rights Watch stated that “CIA-backed Afghan strike forces” have committed “serious abuses, some amounting to war crimes” since late 2017.

The 2019 HRW report noted:

These strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities for allegedly treating insurgent fighters. Civilian casualties from these raids and air operations have dramatically increased in the last two years.

After the Taliban took Kabul it became clear that the CIA would have to shut down its ‘counterterrorism’ program and that it would lose control of a major part of its (drug) business in Afghanistan.

As Kabul was falling at least one of its Afghan units, some 600 soldiers, was ordered to help guard the airport of Kabul.

NDS 01 Unit @NDS_Afghanistan – 11:50 UTC · Aug 17, 2021

We will come
We will serve our countrymen as well .
#انشاء_الله #Kabul #ANDSF

The CIA’s Afghan forces manned the gates and guard towers:

The Americans have turned to several hundred commandos from the former Afghan government’s National Directorate of Security to limit access through some airport gates, to keep the crowds from overwhelming the airport.

The former N.D.S. commandos are due to be among the last to leave the country in the evacuation, serving as a rear guard before being airlifted out, according to U.S. and former Afghan officials.

Some of the trigger happy unit got into a friendly fire incident with German soldiers. The CIA Afghan troops at the airport are set to be evacuated. Other units, including the KPF, were reported to be going to the Panjshir valley where a new ‘Northern Alliance’ under Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud is supposed to be build. The Taliban are trying to hunt them down.

On Thursday a suicide bomber attacked a gate at the airport in Kabul where many people were trying to get evacuated from Afghanistan. The Islamic State claimed responsibility:

Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul and the following panic killed more than 150 civilians (some 30 of whom were British-Afghan), 28 Taliban fighters and 13 U.S. troops.

Before the attack happened a Taliban spokesperson had told RT that they had warned the U.S. of an imminent ISPK attack.

It is difficult to understand why the U.S., after it had been warned, did not take more precautions against such an attack.

Most of the casualties of the attack were not caused by the suicide bomber but by guards on the wall and in the guard towers surrounding the airport.  “Most victims” had gun wounds to their upper bodies and the bullets had come from above. This has now been confirmed by multiple sources:

Sangar | سنګر پیکار @paykhar – 1:02 PM · Aug 28, 2021

“Most victims of #KabulAirportBlast were not killed by the blast but by bullets fired at them by the Americans.”
Faisal of Kabul Lovers channel interviewed aid workers at Emergency Hospital in #Kabul and this is what they have to say:
Embedded video

U.S. media try to ignore those reports. Only deep down in a long New York Times piece one will find these lines:

For the first time, Pentagon officials publicly acknowledged the possibility that some people killed outside the airport on Thursday might have been shot by American service members after the suicide bombing.

Investigators are looking into whether the gunfire came from Americans at the gate, or from the Islamic State.

It were neither the Americans at the gate nor the Islamic State but most likely the CIA’s Afghan death squads in the guard towers who caused the massacre.

The Washington Post analysis of the attack is likewise misleading:

Multiple gunmen then opened fire on the civilians and military forces. A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two days after the attack the CIA CNN published an interview by Clarissa Ward with an alleged ISKP commander said to have been recorded two weeks ago in a hotel in Kabul. Why the CNN blurred the man’s face is left unexplained.

As RT mockingly headlines:

‘CIA tweets CIA interview with CIA’: Viewers react to suddenly-released ‘eerily prophetic’ CNN interview with ISIS-K commander

Also a day after the airport attack the CIA killed an alleged ISKP ‘planner’ in Jalalabad who had nothing to do with the airport attack.

Dion Nissenbaum @DionNissenbaum – 10:43 UTC · Aug 29, 2021

Exclusive @WSJ video shows aftermath of US drone strike on Islamic State in Afghanistan, which used a “Flying Ginsu” missile. Pentagon says no civilian casualties. Eyewitness says a woman among the four injured.
Exclusive Video Shows Aftermath of U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan

The claim of a ‘Flying Ginsu’ missile, which contain no explosives, is inconsistent with the heavy shrapnel damage seen in the above linked video.

Now onto the big question.

If ISKP is, as shown above, a CIA/NDS product and if the guards at the airport who killed the ‘most victims’ in the attack are CIA led Afghan special forces why did all this happen?

We may find the answer in another New York Times piece headlined:

Amid Afghan Chaos, a C.I.A. Mission That Will Persist for Years

As the Afghanistan war wound down, the C.I.A. had expected to gradually shift its primary focus away from counterterrorism — a mission that transformed the agency over two decades into a paramilitary organization focused on manhunts and killing — toward traditional spycraft against powers like China and Russia.

But a pair of deadly explosions on Thursday were the latest in a series of rapidly unfolding events since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover of the country that have upended that plan. Like a black hole with its own gravitational pull, Afghanistan could draw the C.I.A. back into a complex counterterrorism mission for years to come.

The poor CIA – pulled back into an expensive ‘counterterrorism’ mission in Afghanistan and elsewhere that was supposed to end until … well, until a CIA created terrorist outlet sent a suicide bomber to Kabul’s airport and until CIA led Afghan forces shot up and killed a large crowd of refugees.

One might also call this the deep state’s revenge for President Biden’s order to retreat from Afghanistan.

This is the same deep state that had brought us four years of a fake ‘Russiagate’ when a different president was likewise inclined to call U.S. troops back home and to thereby limit the CIA’s fields of operation.

To make their point absolutely clear the NYT‘s CIA authors in their last paragraph issue this not very subtle threat:

Any terrorist attack originating from Afghanistan would expose Mr. Biden to fierce criticism from his political opponents that it was a result of his decision to pull American troops from the country — yet another factor that is likely to bring intense White House pressure on spy agencies to keep a laser focus on Afghanistan.

White House pressure on the spy agencies? No, CIA pressure on the White House to let it stay in its Afghanistan business.