Sunday, August 22, 2021

Russia Faces Serious Terrorist Threat from Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan, Suleymanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – Even if the Taliban moderates itself, focuses primarily on its own country and does not seek to project its power more broadly, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is likely to become a mecca for Islamist terrorist groups and they in turn will constitute a serious threat to the Russian Federation, according to Rais Suleymanov.

            When it was in power before, many radical Islamists, including the Islamic State, came to Afghanistan as a kind of refuge, the Russian Federation specialist on Islam says. The Taliban welcomed them or at least did not force them out. Whatever else may change in the group’s agenda, it is unlikely to change this (

            As a result, whatever its leaders may say now, they are unlikely to remain a group with only local interests or to exclude those who want to carry out terrorist attacks elsewhere – including those with whom the Taliban, as a Hanafi rite movement, might appear to be at odds theologically or ideologically. 

            He gives as examples by Al-Qaeda and groups like the Jamaat Bulgar (later known as the Jamaat Uyghur-Bulgar) who sent their followers from across the Muslim world in the former case and from the Russian Federation and China in the latter. It is almost certain that other groups from the Russian Federation will make their way to Afghanistan again now that the Taliban is back in control.

            No one should forget, the expert says, that in the first decade of this century, Islamist radicals of all kinds went to Afghanistan; then in the second, they moved to fight in Syria. Now, in the third decade of this century, “the center of attraction for radicals is again becoming Afghanistan.”

            Suleymanov’s words are worth attending to because they undoubtedly reflect what many in the Russian government establishment think but are not yet saying. He is deeply unpopular with many Muslim leaders in the Russian Federation because of his criticism of them, but he is extremely well-connected with the intelligence and security agencies in Moscow. 

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