Former US military official warns of rising Daesh threats under Taliban rule

A former high-ranking U.S. military official has raised alarms over the resurgence of the Daesh group in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American forces. Gen. Joseph Votel, who commanded military operations in the Middle East during the 2010s, highlighted the growing capabilities of Daesh Khorasan in the absence of U.S. military oversight.

“Organizations like these do not take long to regroup and become more potent,” Votel commented to Business Insider. Since the Taliban’s ascension to power, Daesh has escalated its terror activities, claiming responsibility for numerous deadly attacks in Afghanistan and extending its reach to neighboring countries.

On January 3, 2024, Daesh executed a devastating attack in Kerman, Iran, which resulted in over 90 fatalities and numerous injuries. Subsequently, the group launched another lethal assault near Moscow, targeting a concert and killing 114 individuals.

Mohammad Radmash, a military analyst, attributes the strengthening of terrorist factions like Daesh to several factors: geopolitical rivalries, challenging terrain, the absence of robust local forces, and the international military drawdown in Afghanistan. “Control over Afghanistan’s airspace has not mitigated regional and global threats, which are escalating daily,” Radmash explained.

Another analyst, Mohammad Naeem Ghafor, criticized the international community’s neglect of Afghanistan’s security dilemmas, suggesting that global distractions have hampered effective counterterrorism efforts. “With the world’s focus divided—China addressing its internal matters, Russia entangled with Ukraine, and the West consumed by conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza—there has been inadequate attention to the evolving situation in Afghanistan,” Ghafor stated.

Despite the Taliban’s assertions that Daesh’s presence in Afghanistan has been subdued and that it lacks significant operational capacity, the group continues to conduct high-profile attacks, including those targeting Taliban officials.