ISIS-K’s terrorist attack against the Russian Embassy in Kabul was a major event that’ll shape Moscow’s regional strategy for years to come. Its immediate implications were already addressed by the author, as was the speculation about which foreign intelligence agencies might have been behind it and why following a leading Taliban representative’s vague statement attributing responsibility to such forces. As such, the present piece will therefore focus on the importance of Russia’s investigation into this event.
First and foremost, Moscow must ensure that nothing of the sort ever happens again, to which end must work even more closely with the Taliban than ever before despite still not formally recognizing the legitimacy of their de facto rule over Afghanistan. The security of its embassy must be ensured, including that of those Afghans who queue outside that facility while waiting for their meetings there. The Taliban hadn’t adequately protected those people, which is why ISIS-K regarded them as easy targets.
Second, apart from coordinating more robust physical security measures for defending its embassy and those who visit it, Russia must also ascertain which Taliban factions might have facilitated this attack from the inside like some have begun to suspect had happened. This insight will help Moscow better understand the group’s internal dynamics, which will result not only in identifying which factions can be trusted, but also those that potentially pose the greatest latent (sleeper cell) threats.
Third, the preceding information can eventually be built upon to map those unreliable elements’ networks, including with foreign intelligence agencies such as the sort that the earlier mentioned top Taliban representative speculated played a role in the latest terrorist attack. Apart from having a clearer picture of who’s working with whom and through which means, Russia can then begin digging deeper into their capabilities and intentions, including whether they had a hand in what just happened.
Fourth, just because a foreign intelligence agency might have assets embedded within terrorist networks doesn’t automatically mean that they’re responsible for every attack that such a group carries out since some might just function as informants and not proxies just like Russia’s in Syria do. Even so, if it’s determined that a non-hostile foreign spy agency like Pakistan’s had sources close to the ISIS-K attacker but didn’t share relevant intel ahead of time, then Russia will naturally wonder why that was.
Fifth, that potential direction of the investigation will inevitably lead to one of two outcomes. The first is closer cooperation with the foreign spy agency in question if it’s concluded that they truly didn’t have actionable intelligence, didn’t regard whatever they had as credible, and/or didn’t receive it in time. The second, however, is growing distrust between them if Russia ultimately comes to believe that they truly did have actionable intelligence, regarded it as credible, received it in time, but didn’t share it.
All in all, the importance of Russia’s investigation into ISIS-K’s embassy attack lies in learning more about this terrorist group’s connections with Taliban factions and foreign intelligence agencies, which will enable Moscow to more confidently defend its physical and strategic interests in that country and the region more broadly. One can only speculate what this investigation will ultimately reveal upon its completion, but observers can be certain that it’ll shape Russian policy for years to come.
Source: One World