August 26, 2021 went down in history as a black page in foreign policy for the United States. The disastrous evacuation of Afghanistan, led by the Biden Administration, created an unprecedented crisis at Kabul airport, putting the security of the United States and its citizens at risk after the Taliban seized control of the capital and nearly all of Afghanistan.
Hundreds of thousands have fled and others are still trying to escape the Taliban regime, crowding around the airport guarded by Taliban militants. This crisis was the ideal opportunity for suicide bombers, attributed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to explode a pair of bombs near the airport leaving at least 170 dead, including 13 American soldiers, and hundreds of others wounded.
It has been suggested since the Biden administration and the Pentagon that the Taliban are enemies of ISIS and that the United States can work with — and trust — the terrorists it has faced for more than twenty years to complete the evacuation.
However, there are reasonable doubts surrounding this claim. Critics point out that terrorists who once supported al-Qaeda cannot be trusted, and there are reports that Taliban militants released thousands of prisoners from Kabul prison. Some of them are linked to Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
“Thousands of inmates, including former Islamic State and al-Qaeda fighters, were released from a prison on the outskirts of Kabul as the Taliban called for a “peaceful transition” of power,” Business Insider reported on Aug. 15. “Afghan government troops surrendered Bagram airbase to the Taliban early on Sunday. The base houses Pul-e-Charki prison, which has around 5,000 prisoners. It is the largest in Afghanistan and notorious for its poor conditions. A maximum-security cellblock held members of Al-Qaeda and Taliban, said reports.”
The videos showing the release of the prisoners were released by a news agency that supports the Taliban, according to information provided by the BBC.
On Aug. 26, following the attacks, there were those who recalled the release of the prisoners once the Biden administration said they are working together with the Taliban to achieve the evacuations.
“If ISIS-K is responsible for the suicide attack at the Kabul airport, I imagine Biden will repeat the line he’s repeated all week: ISIS is the sworn enemy of the Taliban. What he doesn’t say: The Taliban released ISIS prisoners along with Taliban prisoners when they took control,” tweeted, for example, Kelly Jane Torrance.
But it is unclear what happened in that release. In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal report, titled “Inside the Hidden War Between the Taliban and ISIS,” the Taliban killed “Abu Omar Khorasani, a onetime leader of Islamic State in Afghanistan,” and 8 other members of the terrorist group after they seized major prisons in Kabul.
The Journal article outlines how the two terrorist groups have come into conflict, which makes it clear that ISIS and the Taliban are enemies, but may lead to greater instability within Afghanistan.
Americans must now entrust their lives to terrorist groups
There are many hypotheses and theories regarding the Taliban and ISIS, but beyond their connections or clashes, there is one irrefutable fact here: the security of the United States in Afghanistan, read American citizens, troops and Afghan allies, is at the mercy of two terrorist groups.
Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress have said that the Taliban cannot be trusted. Yet the Biden administration decided to trust and work, even giving them a list with names and addresses of American citizens, green cards and Afghan allies who want to leave the country. All this despite the fact that Afghans who worked for the United States want to flee Afghanistan for fear of Taliban retaliation.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who is an Afghanistan veteran, called the administration’s decision “borderline treason.” He also said that it needs to “find out who is responsible for giving the Taliban a hit list and they need to go to prison.”
The move is unusual and strange, but there is a problem: the margin of action is short for the United States. The situation is so complex that, right now, the safety of many American citizens and troops depends on the Taliban changing from enemies to allies, at least for a few days.
Whether there are no more ISIS attacks, for example, depends on the Taliban properly securing the airport. Something they failed to do on August 26. Whether all Americans and Afghan allies are evacuated by August 31 also depends on the Taliban being able to work smoothly with the American authorities. For it requires the Taliban to let civilians through at the airport entrance.
In other words, the Biden administration put the United States in a very delicate and serious situation: trusting terrorists. Today national security is in the middle of ISIS and the Taliban, two unpredictable groups, which right now are enemies and at war, but can quietly work together. “They [the Taliban] will let me go free if they are good Muslims,” the now-deceased terrorist Abu Omar Khorasani told the Wall Street Journal in an interview, in the end the Taliban killed him, but those were not exactly the expectations.
Unpredictability reigns in this tragic reality, and the question is one: can the United States trust the terrorists it fought for two decades? For many, absolutely not. But the government left the country without many other options.