USIP report warns of escalating terrorist threats from Afghanistan, Pakistan

Taliban members in Ghor province.

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) warned in its latest report that terrorist threats from Afghanistan and Pakistan are escalating risks to U.S. national security and international stability. The report cited the recent ISIS-K attack in Moscow as evidence that these threats are evolving.

Following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the USIP convened a senior study group to assess U.S. counterterrorism policy options. “The group’s final report suggests that a terrorist incident in Afghanistan or Pakistan could spark a regional or international crisis, undermine U.S. alliances, and distract from strategic competition,” the report stated.

In a separate analysis, the USIP referenced President Joe Biden’s April 2021 announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, emphasizing the continued importance of counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a critical U.S. interest.

The study group concluded that counterterrorism efforts should not be viewed merely as a distraction but should be integrated into broader strategic policies to mitigate threats and support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy. “A potential terrorist attack could cause significant loss of life and divert U.S. resources from other national security priorities,” the report highlighted.

It also noted the growing threat from ISIS-K, which now has a greater reach than before the U.S. withdrawal, and mentioned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a resurgent regional security concern. The report detailed ongoing support for al-Qaeda by the Taliban, underscoring the counterterrorism challenges posed by the Taliban’s harboring of terrorist groups and their promotion of extremist ideologies.

“While the worst-case scenario concerning al-Qaeda’s resurgence in Afghanistan has not materialized, the group and its South Asia affiliate continue to maintain ties with the Taliban and advocate for attacks against U.S. citizens and interests,” the report added.

Concerns over increased terrorist threats from Afghanistan have grown among regional countries and the international community since the Taliban’s takeover.