There are many Islamic fundamentalist militant movements around the globe, some of which are outright hostile towards one another. That is changing. As the Islamic State grows in power becomes the near central focus of Western counterterrorism officials and war planners, Islamist radical groups are uniting behind ISIS.
In Algeria, a group linking itself to ISIS recently beheaded a French tourist in response to coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The al-Nusra Front, a militant group allied with al-Qaeda and once opposed to ISIS, has reportedly decided to work with them rather than against them. The Filipino Islamist militia Abu Sayyaf has reportedly threatened to behead some Germans in their captivity in a show of solidarity with ISIS. And now, in Afghanistan, ISIS-allied militants are mounting a campaign of beheadings ahead of the withdrawal of NATO forces later this year.
“Militants aligned with ISIS have launched a brutal offensive in Afghanistan alongside Taliban fighters that has left more than 100 people dead, local officials said Friday,” NBC News reported. “Insurgents carrying the black flag of ISIS captured several villages in Ghazni province, according to Deputy Governor Ali Ahmad Ahmadi and Deputy Police Chief Gen. Asadullah Ensafi. Fifteen family members of local police officers were beheaded and at least 60 homes were set ablaze, Ahmadi said.”
Members of the Taliban from different regions of the country were involved in the offensive, officials said. According to Ahmadi, the drive was being led masked men wearing camouflage who carried the black flag of the ISIS and openly called themselves soldiers of “Daesh” — another name for ISIS. The officials said those militants did not speak any local languages. Reinforcements from the Afghan national army and provincial police had been stopped from reaching the area by Taliban ambushes. Ahmadi said the army was preparing to send in commandos in an attempt to push back the militants.
Nothing will prevent the president from sticking to the plan of a near full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of the year. It will, however, no longer serve as a talking point for Democrats who would like to campaign on the president ending the American wars of the last decade.
It is becoming harder to escape the impression that a global war against Islamic radicalism, similar to that which erupted in 2001 in the wake of al-Qaeda’s successful attacks on the United States, appears to be taking shape.