Archive for the ‘Taliban’ category

U.S. Will Pay $5 Million for Information on Taliban Suicide Bombing Trainer

March 9, 2018

OAN Newsroom UPDATED 9:20 AM PT — Fri. March 9, 2018 One America News Network

Source Link: U.S. Will Pay $5 Million for Information on Taliban Suicide Bombing Trainer

{Wanted: Dead or Alive. Well, just info on his location for now. – LS}

The United States places a bounty of $5 million for information regarding a top Taliban chief.

The bounty placed on Thursday is meant to aid in finding Mullah Fazlullah, who is the leader of the Pakistani arm of the Taliban.

Fazlullah is known for training suicide bombers, and was the target of a U.S. drone strike that killed over 20 militants on Wednesday. However, the operation failed to kill him.

Fazlullah and his Taliban militants are part of ongoing frustration from the U.S. and Kabul toward Pakistan’s efforts to combat insurgents.

The U.S. has been critical of Pakistan’s security efforts.

This comes while a Pakistani delegation meets with officials in Washington to increase cooperation.

Trump rejects idea of talks with Taliban after Afghan blasts

January 29, 2018

Roberta Rampton World News January 29, 2018

Source: Trump rejects idea of talks with Taliban after Afghan blasts

{No deal! – LS}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday ruled out the idea of negotiations with the Taliban, condemning the militant group for a series of recent deadly blasts and pledging to “finish what we have to finish.”

Trump’s comments, made as he began meeting at the White House with members of the United Nations Security Council, appeared to dampen prospects for the revival of peace talks with the Taliban.

“I don’t see any talking taking place. I don’t think we’re prepared to talk right now. It’s a whole different fight over there. They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right,” Trump told reporters.

Trump last year sent more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and ordered an increase in air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said the strategy was working and pushing the insurgents closer to peace talks.

But that was before a Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 100 people and wounded at least 235 in Kabul on Saturday, an attack that followed a Taliban siege of the city’s Intercontinental Hotel and other acts of violence.

“When you see what they’re doing and the atrocities that they’re committing, and killing their own people, and those people are women and children … it is horrible,” Trump said.

“We don’t want to talk to the Taliban. We’re going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it,” Trump said.

Afghanistan’s U.N. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal told Reuters on Monday that fighting needed to continue against certain elements of the Taliban.

“There are two categories of Taliban: one is the reconcilable elements who are in touch with us, who are talking to us, and one is the irreconcilable,” Saikal said.

“The irreconcilables and those who have chosen to fight, we need to fight. We need to fight against them, we need to have the capability to withstand against them and to defend our people,” he said.


Joshua Boyle: The Taliban-Admiring Freed Hostage’s Case Keeps Getting Stranger

January 18, 2018

Joshua Boyle: The Taliban-Admiring Freed Hostage’s Case Keeps Getting Stranger, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Scott Newark, January 18, 2018

In late December, Canadians learned that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had met with the Boyle family in his official office at Boyle’s request. Strangely, this fact was not revealed by the PM but rather through a tweet from Boyle’s account that included photos and the comment:

“Incidentally, not our first meeting with @JustinTrudeau, that was ’06 in Toronto over other common interests, haha.”


The bizarre case of Joshua Boyle and his family is back in the news in Canada as a result of two strange recent developments.

Boyle and his American wife Caitlan Coleman made headlines in October 2012 when they were apparently taken hostage by the Haqqani network in a region of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. According to Boyle, he and his seven-month pregnant wife were backpacking when they were kidnapped. His story shifted several times since then, saying they were mistakenly in Afghanistan, that they were there as ‘pilgrims’ to help the local Afghans, and that they were kidnapped because the terrorists thought his wife’s pregnancy could be leveraged for ransom from the U.S.

Most intriguing is Boyle’s apparent continuing support for the Taliban, a legally designated terrorist entity under Canadian law. Boyle continues to refer to the Taliban by their preferred title of ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,’ and has even gone so far as to explain that the Taliban refused to cooperate with the Haqqani network in the hostage taking and that the Haqqani thugs tried to recruit him to join with them. Boyle’s seeming support of the Taliban remains unchallenged.

As strange as this sounds, Boyle has an activist history in Canada that suggests this may have been his real motivation. Boyle was born into a well-to-do, devout Christian family, and his father was a Canadian Federal Tax Court judge.

Boyle first came to public attention in Canada during 2008 protests at Parliament Hill demanding suspected terrorist Omar Khadr’s release from Guantanamo Bay. The Khadr family organized the protests, including Omar’s niqab-wearing sister, Zaynab. She infamously stated in an interview that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks and dismissed her brother Omar’s killing of a U.S. soldier by snorting “big deal.”

Canada’s first family of terror” is supported by their close connections to al-Qaida (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the fact that Osama bin Laden and current AQ leader Ayman al Zawahiri actually attended Zaynab Khadr’s previous wedding in Afghanistan.

Boyle became the Khadr family’s spokesman and, in 2009, he married Zaynab Khadr. The marriage only lasted 18 months. He reconnected with Caitlan Coleman after his 2011 divorce. The bizarre trip to Afghanistan and abduction took place the following year. The couple had three children while in captivity, claiming that one other died following a forced miscarriage.

This connection to Zaynab Khadr is revealing because an Alberta judge refused to allow Omar Khadr – now back on the streets in Canada – unsupervised visits with her because of her continuing Islamist extremist views and connections.

Meanwhile, new information from Khadr family associates indicates that, contrary to what Boyle has said, he had actually met Zaynab and her family in 2006 when he joined them at court appearances in support of the just arrested Toronto 18 terrorists. Remember that 2006 date.

We now know that the Boyle’s rescue occurred in October after U.S. Special Forces located the family and told the Pakistanis to secure their release or the U.S. forces would do it themselves. Canada was advised of the operation once it had commenced. Boyle’s oddity started immediately when he refused to allow his family to board a U.S. plane, apparently because he feared his Khadr links would send him to Gitmo. After a short delay, the family took commercial flights and returned to understandably huge media attention.

Since his return, Boyle has given multiple interviews which can be summed up in this revealing comment“In the final analysis, it is the intentions of our actions, not their consequences, on which we all shall eventually be judged.”

In late December, Canadians learned that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had met with the Boyle family in his official office at Boyle’s request. Strangely, this fact was not revealed by the PM but rather through a tweet from Boyle’s account that included photos and the comment:

“Incidentally, not our first meeting with @JustinTrudeau, that was ’06 in Toronto over other common interests, haha.”

Why would the Canadian PM meet with a supporter of a legally designated terrorist entity that has killed Canadian soldiers? What does that say to Canadians, including family members of other Canadian hostages murdered by Islamists, with whom he has refused to meet? And what is the ‘common interest’ from 2006 that Boyle is referencing? Did Trudeau meet with members of the Khadr family, including Zaynab, during the protests that year? If so, is another $10.5 million payoff coming for the Boyles?

Less than two weeks later another bombshell dropped. Ottawa Police announced that they had arrested Joshua Boyle and charged him with 15 criminal offenses committed since he was freed. Charges include eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault and two counts of unlawful confinement, and single counts of uttering threats, administering a noxious substance, and obstruction of a peace officer.

The alleged crimes began a day after the family returned to Canada and lived with his parents, and continued through the end of December, when Ottawa police responded to a complaint. Reportedly, 14 of the charges involve an adult woman, while a child also is an alleged victim. Interestingly, Boyle’s wife’s parents were in Ottawa visiting with their daughter and grandchildren when the complaint that led to the charges was made. Boyle has had four court appearances but has yet to enter a plea as his lawyers are apparently trying to arrange an acceptable bail release. He’ll be back in court Jan. 26. Is this case going to be resolved by a plea bargain?

This strange case has understandably attracted significant attention. Hopefully, elected officials will learn to exercise greater caution in grabbing photo ops with sketchy people, and our secular court system will now deal appropriately with Joshua Boyle, including protecting his own children from harmful influence. One thing is certain: there will be more to come. Stay tuned.

Scott Newark is a former Alberta Crown Prosecutor who has also served as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair of the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, Director of Operations for Investigative Project on Terrorism and as a Security Policy Advisor to the governments of Ontario and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the TRSS Program in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years

October 12, 2017

Pakistan Secures Release of American Family Held Hostage for 5 Years, Washington Free Beacon, October 12, 2017

Caitlan Coleman and family in a Taliban proof of life video / Screenshot via YouTube

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorist groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.


The government of Pakistan, under pressure from President Trump to do more against Islamic terrorism, secured the release of an American mother and her family after five years captivity at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband, and three children, including a very young child, were freed from control of the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network terrorist group Wednesday night and were in Pakistani government custody awaiting transfer to American officials.

The years’ long hostage case was resolved after the Islamabad government notified the U.S. government several days ago it had located the family and was close to securing their release.

“We’re tremendously grateful to the government of Pakistan for securing the release of Caitlan Coleman and her family,” said a senior official.

“The relationship with Pakistan has had its challenges but this is exactly the kind of action that will put the relationship on the right track. This could be a new beginning.”

The release surprised many in the U.S. government since the action marks a departure from Islamabad’s lukewarm cooperation with the United States against terrorism in the past.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said in the past Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service had been known to support Afghan terrorists groups.

Trump criticized Pakistan in a major speech in August outlining a new strategy to dealing with the war in Afghanistan.

Trump identified the United States’ tougher approach to Pakistan as a key pillar of the administration’s new strategy toward the war in Afghanistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said in the Aug. 21 speech.

Trump said Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States in Afghanistan and “much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

The president said in his speech that Pakistan had sheltered terrorist organizations that were killing Americans. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he said.

“But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace,” Trump said.

Coleman, her husband Josua Boyle, and two of her children were last heard of during a proof-of-life video made public in December in which she urged then-President Obama to secure their release before leaving office.

Officials said a robust U.S. diplomatic effort in support of Coleman has been under way for the past several months and gained momentum when the Pakistani government contacted U.S. officials to say they had located the family and were arranging for their release.

The family was held as hostages by the Haqqani Network, a faction of the Islamist Taliban terror group currently the target of U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan.

They were captured in 2012 while hiking in Wardak Province, near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time with their first child.

Officials said the location of the family that includes three small children, had been the subject of intensive U.S. intelligence and military operations.

“We’d only been able to get very few indications of where they were located,” said one U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The Haqqani Network is believed to have kept the family in isolation in the remote border region of Waziristan, located along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the Director of National Intelligence, the Haqqani Network is a Sunni Islamist terror group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who first emerged during the 1980s as an Afghan warlord opposing the Soviet Union.

Haqqani was part of the Hezb-e Islami faction headed by mujahedin commander Younis Khalis.

Haqqani was an associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin and was regarded as a close mentor to bin Ladin, according to the DNI.

The Haqqani network is currently headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son.

The main operating area for the group is North Waziristan, Pakistan.

“The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan; they typically conduct coordinated small-arms assaults coupled with rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide attacks, and attacks using bomb-laden vehicles,” the DNI said.

In the video made public in December, Coleman said her family’s captivity was “Kafkaesque” and that her children had witnessed their mother being defiled.

In the video, she was shown with two children. U.S. officials said the family now has a very young third child, who is being released.

“Please don’t become the next Jimmy Carter,” said Coleman stated in the video. “Just give the offenders something so they and you can save face so we can leave the region permanently.”

The reference to Carter likely was meant as the failed efforts of Carter to secure the release of American hostages held captive in Iran from 1979 to 1980.

The New York Times reported in December that efforts to broker the release of Coleman were set back as the result of an American military drone strike that killed an Afghan Taliban leader in May 2016.

The Times reported that the Haqqani network had demanded the release of one of its commanders, Anas Haqqani, captured by Afghanistan’s government in 2014.

At least two other Americans reportedly are being held hostage by the Haqqanis.

Winning Afghanistan: Support Trump’s Strategy

August 22, 2017

Winning Afghanistan: Support Trump’s Strategy, Clarion ProjectRyan Maur0, August 22, 2017

A US soldier holds the national flag ahead of a handover ceremony at Leatherneck Camp in Lashkar Gah in the Afghan province of Helmand on April 29, 2017. (Photo: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images)

We have made progress, but the American public rarely heard about it because President Obama did not wish to bring attention to the war and its political liabilities. The progress was then lost due to the rapid withdrawal based on an arbitrary timeline.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistakes our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said.


President Trump is pledging to “win” in Afghanistan by defeating the terrorist “losers.” He is correct about the disaster ahead if the U.S. retreats from Afghanistan, but his speech doesn’t seem to have addressed the concerns of those who believe that the campaign there is a lost cause.

Trump rightly pointed out that there are 20 groups designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the U.S. State Department operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the U.S. abandons Afghanistan, these groups will use the country as a launching pad to target the U.S. and destabilize the region, including nuclear-armed Pakistan.

From this base, they will likely be able to roll back progress we’ve made against terror havens in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And, of course, each success breeds a multitude of new members for the victorious terrorist group as momentum is interpreted as Allah’s blessing.

Yet, these realities do not address the core skepticism of those who oppose the war in Afghanistan — that there’s simply nothing more we can do. President Trump needed to confront this head on.

It’s extremely important that the American public understand that the war in Afghanistan is not like a videotape on loop. We have made progress, but the American public rarely heard about it because President Obama did not wish to bring attention to the war and its political liabilities. The progress was then lost due to the rapid withdrawal based on an arbitrary timeline.

“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistakes our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said.

Addressing the need to make a long-term commitment to Afghanistan to defeat the terror forces there, Secretary of Defense Mattis said it best when he told President Trump, “Mr. President, we haven’t fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war 16 times.”

In 2014, 95% of all operations were being done by the Afghans and they were taking 95% of all casualties, according to Michael O’Hanlon. Foreign forces were only 15% of coalition manpower. The Taliban and other jihadists had a growing presence in the areas where foreign forces decreased, but this territory only encompassed about 10% of the Afghan population.

The Defense Department’s April 2014 report said that U.S. casualties had “dropped significantly” over the previous year and the Afghan forces conduct “virtually all of these operations independently.” The Afghan economy was lunging forward and the Defense Department reported a “dramatic increase in basic education.”

The mantra we always hear in the media is that the Afghans won’t fight the Taliban and other terrorists. They did.

There was also major economic, educational and political progress.

That year, Afghanistan held a hotly-contested presidential election where all of the major candidates agreed that the U.S. military should be asked to stay. The election was a big success, as U.S.-backed Afghan forces made the Taliban and other Islamist terrorists fail miserably in achieving their stated goal of wreaking havoc during the voting.

Despite the extremely high risk, voter turnout was about 58%, matching that of America’s 2012 presidential election. One in three voters were women and a record number of women were running for office, including two for vice president.

After the vote was held, accusations of fraud came from both sides. Sectarian tension was high as each candidate represented different constituencies. Amazingly, despite all these pressures, the parties then reached a power-sharing agreement and had Afghanistan’s first peaceful transfer of the presidency through elections.

It is absolutely essential for President Trump to mention this progress to the skeptical American public so that they can know we haven’t been simply running in circles in Afghanistan. It is also important for the U.S. military that sacrifices so much to hear that their gains are known and appreciated.

Any progress that this new strategy makes will be limited by the assistance that the Taliban and other terrorists are receiving from Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

President Trump put Pakistan on notice like never before. The Pakistani government is going to be held accountable for harboring and materially supporting the terrorist network that sustains the jihad in Afghanistan. It is probable that we’ll see an increase in cross-border operations.

Trump’s praise for India as a strategic partner is a powerful lever to pull to pressure Pakistan. The State Department’s recent designation of Hizbul Mujahideen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization shows that the Trump Administration is serious about this. Hizbul Mujahideen is a terror group that primarily targets India and is backed by Pakistan.

It was strange that Iran’s role in assisting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda went unmentioned in Trump’s speech. Iran is actively murdering U.S. and Afghan troops. However, Secretary of Defense Mattis’ desire to deliver some payback to the Iranian regime for targeting the U.S. military is well-known. You can bet he has plans in mind for that.

All of the talk about the war in Afghanistan inevitably brings up the experience of the Vietnam War. Although there is much to criticize about National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, he wrote a critically-acclaimed book about the Vietnam War.

There should be no doubt that the lessons of Vietnam are in the mind of McMaster and have been discussed within the Trump Administration every step of the way towards crafting the U.S.’ strategy in Afghanistan.

As Trump acknowledged, Americans are understandably frustrated and sick of being at war in Afghanistan. But there is reason to believe we can be successful. Moreover, advocates of a withdrawal have yet to explain how we can withdraw and still stop Afghanistan from becoming an extremely dangerous terrorist base.

If we would withdraw from Afghanistan now, how would we feel seeing images on our TV screens of the Taliban coming back to power, carrying out massacres and once again stopping girls from going to school, knowing that we could have stopped it.

We’ve sacrificed too much already to hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban and regressive forces. The consequences of retreat are so dire that it’s worth giving Trump and his team a chance for their strategy to work.

Taliban seizes 3 districts from Afghan government

July 25, 2017

Taliban seizes 3 districts from Afghan government, Long War Journal, , July 25, 2017

Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.


The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Farah and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

The state of play of Afghan districts is often difficult to determine. Often, some districts switch hands multiple times over a short period of time. For instance, Nawa district in Helmand province has gone back and forth between the Taliban and the Afghan government four times over the past year. The Afghan government retook it just last week, but the Taliban are fighting to regain control.

In some cases, such as with Jani Khel or all of the districts in Uruzgan province, the Taliban controls all of the district except for the district center, which hosts the government facilities and police headquarters.

Estimates issued by the US military and the Taliban are not that far apart. The US military estimated in the spring that the Taliban now controls or contests 40 percentof Afghanistan’s districts, while the Taliban in late March claimed the number is closer to 50 percent. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Taliban controls or contests 40 percent of Afghan districts: SIGAR and Afghan Taliban lists ‘Percent of Country under the control of Mujahideen’.]

Afghan forces have ceded control of some rural districts to the Taliban, excusing the districts as strategically unimportant. The Taliban has instead used these districts as bases to attack Afghan forces in more populous districts.

Russia’s Terrorist Double Game

June 17, 2017

Russia’s Terrorist Double Game, Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 16, 2017

A Muslim Russian national from Kyrgyzstan detonated an explosive device in St. Petersburg’s subway system in April, killing 14 people and injuring many others. The attack signaled a growing Islamist threat facing Russia, following several high profile terrorist attacks in recent years. More people have been killed in Russia from terrorism than any other European state since 1970. Yet Russia maintains a glaring double standard when it comes to terrorist violence and now sponsors some of the deadliest terrorist groups in history.

For the Russian government, terrorists aren’t “terrorists” if they avoid targeting Russian citizens or interests. In this light, Russian officials consistently avoid classifying groups like Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist organizations. The latest example came directly from Russia’s ambassador to Israel, Alexander Shein, in an interview last Friday with Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Shein admitted that while both groups were “radical organizations, which sometimes adhere to extremist political views,” Russian law only designates organizations as terrorists when they “intentionally conduct acts of terror in Russian territory, or against Russian interests abroad – installations, embassies, offices, or citizens.”

Despite the lack of a universal definition, “terrorism” generally refers to a non-state actor’s deliberate threat or use of violence for primarily political, religious, or ideological purposes. According to many conceptions, terrorism tends to intentionally target civilians, but also to create a broader psychological reaction beyond those killed or injured. By these well-established criteria, Hizballah and Hamas, organized militant groups that purposefully kill civilians to establish Islamist states in their image, are the quintessential terrorist organizations.

For the Russian government, a jihadist blowing up a St. Petersburg metro constitutes terrorism. But a Hamas suicide bomber targeting Israeli public transportation or Hizballah militants indiscriminately firing rockets into civilian areas is not terrorism. With such a view, it is no surprise that Russia is actively engaging in a double game when it comes to supporting terrorist organizations.

Since launching its 2015 military intervention in Syria’s civil war, Russia has positioned itself as a major benefactor to the Iranian-led Shi’ite axis operating in Syria. Russia provides military training and air support to Hizballah fighters on the ground. Russia reportedly supplies the terrorist group with heavy weaponry and enables the flow of sophisticated armaments from Iran to its terrorist proxy.

Russia historically has faced diverse terrorist threats from its North Caucasus region, a conflict that has increasingly adopted a more global Islamist orientation. In December 2013, Islamist terrorists conducted two suicide bombings within two days, targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd. Another suicide bombing had taken place in the same city two months earlier. Since the mid 1990’s, Russian forces have fought North Caucasian militants in two bloody wars and other sustained battles in the region. Despite strong crackdowns in recent years, Russian security services allegedly encouraged many local extremists to leave the North Caucasus and join terrorist organizations in Syria, disregarding its own laws deterring individuals from fighting with terrorist groups that oppose Russian interests. Since 2011, an estimated 2,400 Russians have travelled to Syria to fight with various militant groups, including the Islamic State and al-Qaida’s affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Now, Russia is particularly vulnerable to the threat from returning foreign fighters.

In Afghanistan, Russia has been increasingly supporting the Taliban under the pretext of combatting the Islamic State’s affiliate in that country. Like Syria, Russia is allying with one terrorist organization to fight another one. In both contexts, these policies may be intended to reduce the domestic terrorist threat to Russia and enhance Russia’s influence. But working with terrorist entities that hold long-standing grievances with the Russian state in order to fight other short-term terrorist threats, will likely backfire.

The Islamist terrorist threat to Russian national security is unlikely to wane anytime soon. Russia’s population is in decline, but Muslims living in Russia maintain relatively high birthrates. Some projections suggest that Muslims – which currently represent about 16 percent of Russian citizens – will account for one fifth of the country’s population by 2020. Support for various types of Islamist groups abroad does not bode well for long-term Russian counterterrorism efforts at home. Russia’s marginalized and predominately Sunni Muslim population may become even more susceptible to radical Islamist ideologies as Russia continues to support Shi’ite terrorist organizations in Syria.

Russia’s explicit military, financial, and diplomatic assistance to some of the most brutal powerful terrorist groups make it one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism today. All acts of Islamist terrorist violence needs to be condemned and supressed uniformly, not in Russia’s selective way.