Things just got a whole lot less comfortable for ISIS in Afghanistan. The rules of engagement have changed, with US ground forces now permitted to take offensive action against the terrorist group.
Last week the US State Department designated ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, an action which brought with it a changing of the rules of engagement for our troops in Afghanistan. American “boots on the ground” can now be utilized in offensive military operations.
The particular terrorist designation applies to a group identified as specifically as ISIS-K, a Khorasan affiliated branch. They are believed to be responsible for conducted suicide attacks, small-arms attacks and kidnappings, targeting civilians and Afghan government officials.
Under the rules change the American forces will now be able to engage in the active pursuit of ISIS fighters and initiate military action against them, considering them to be a threat to the United States.
Under previous rules of engagement ISIS would have first had to have demonstrated that they posed an immediate threat to our forces in the area with pursuit being authorized only as a part of a specific counterterrorism mission.
The terrorist designation also carries with it a prohibition against knowingly providing, attempting to provide or conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS-K, which also provides our forces with additional leverage in targeting them and their support networks.
According to US leadership, ISIS-K formed a year ago, in January of 2015. At that time the group pledged their loyalty to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They are believed to be composed of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, with specifics as to their numbers unknown, with their leader, Hafex Saeed Khan also a former member of that Taliban group.
The Obama administration delay of a year in assigning the new designation marked a failure on the part of the Obama regime in the opinion of Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was critical of the slow response by the White House to the changing situation and for the changes to the rules of engagement not having taken place in a more timely manner.
Thornberry condemned the delay, saying, “It shouldn’t have taken a year for the White House to identify ISIS as a threat in Afghanistan and authorize our forces to engage them. In fact, the committee understands that our military made two requests last year to combat this emerging ISIS threat, the first dating back to February 2015. Once again, the President’s inaction and denial of the ISIS threat has only resulted in its growth and put our troops and our Afghan partners at greater risk.”
Once again the Obama blind spot for Islamic terrorism and his odd affinity with ISIS is on display in delayed and faulty judgments. When this group pledged loyalty to ISIS there was nothing left to be substantiated, they had declared who and what they were. They joined ranks with a terrorist organization. What was the possible benefit of waiting another year beyond allowing ISIS to gain a foothold, just as was done in Syria and Iraq?
Now they’re entrenched and a much more difficult enemy to defeat.
Was the intent to give them time to solidify in Afghanistan? It is a question worth asking.