A lethal assault in opposition to American and Afghan civilians could be a catastrophe not just for the USA, but additionally for the Taliban, who’re transferring to consolidate management over Kabul. The Taliban and the Islamic State have been enemies, preventing one another on the battlefield for management of components of the nation.

Western counterterrorism analysts say a high-profile assault by ISIS in the course of the evacuation would probably raise the group’s flagging fortunes, recruiting and status.

A United Nations report in June assessed that the Islamic State’s “territorial losses have affected the group’s capability to recruit and generate new funding.”

Though the ISIS affiliate was nonetheless believed to have 1,500 to 2,200 fighters in small areas of Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, the report mentioned, “it has been pressured to decentralize and consists primarily of cells and small teams throughout the nation, appearing in an autonomous method whereas sharing the identical ideology.”

Whereas the group suffered navy setbacks beginning in summer time 2018, the report concluded that since June 2020, beneath its formidable new chief, Shahab al-Muhajir, the affiliate “stays energetic and harmful,” and is searching for to swell its ranks with disaffected Taliban fighters and different militants.

“On condition that ISIS-Okay and the Taliban are enemies, it will likely be a problem for ISIS-Okay,” Mr. Clarke mentioned. “Nonetheless, the Taliban now has its palms full with governing, which is able to devour appreciable bandwidth inside the group.”

Nathan Gross sales, the State Division’s counterterrorism coordinator within the Trump administration, mentioned on Sunday that if the ISIS affiliate was able to attacking the airport in Kabul, “that means Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal shall be a permissive setting for all kinds of terrorist teams, even these hostile to the Taliban.”