US Afghan Pullout: Any Spillover of Possible Afghan Civil War into Pakistan?

Many fear the return to civil war in Afghanistan after the US pull-out. Are these fears well-founded? If so, who will be the main combatants in such a civil war? The Afghan Taliban? Or notorious warlords of yesteryears like  Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ismael Khan, Abdur Rashid Dostum and progeny of Ahmad Shah Masood? Or terror groups like ISIS, TTP, ETIM, IMU, etc etc.? 

Can the Northern Alliance, made up mainly of Tajiks and Uzbeks, reconstitute itself? Who will back them? Will India back them? Russia, China and Iran are already seriously talking with the Afghan Taliban. 

Can the Afghan Taliban quickly prevail over other groups to stabilize Afghanistan? Will China and Russia help?

How's Pakistan's geo-economic pivot working out? Will Chinese investment in CPEC and Russian involvement in Karachi-Lahore gas pipeline help build Pakistan's geo-economic strategy? Will both of them help Pakistan if India attempts to disrupt these projects with covert attacks via proxies? 

How does the creation of US-led QUAD with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan help Pakistan's geo-strategic pivot? Will it help bring stability to Afghanistan? 

How's US-China technology war unfolding? Is the US succeeding in denying supply chain inputs to the Chinese semiconductor industry? 

Please watch this video for a discussion of the above questions:

https://youtu.be/EZuCLz6KzKE

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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 25, 2021 at 9:25pm

#China, #Pakistan to take joint actions to tackle terrorist spillover from #Afghanistan. #CPEC #dasu - Global Times https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202107/1229542.shtml#.YP44znbbOsw.t...

As Afghan-Taliban peace talks failed to reach breakthrough and security threats remain high, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in China on Saturday. They have both agreed to take joint actions to tackle the spillover effect from the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

China and Pakistan are facing a direct effect from the worsening situation in Afghanistan, and it is one of the important agendas of Qureshi's visit to China to enhance cooperation and deal with the situation, Wang said.

China and Pakistan will pursue the hope for peace in an attempt to prevent a civil war in Afghanistan, and mediate for negotiations between the Afghans, Wang said.

China and Pakistan will jointly combat terrorism, push all major forces in Afghanistan to draw a clear line with terrorism, resolutely crack down on terrorist forces such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and prevent Afghanistan from falling again into being a hotbed for terrorism, Wang said. He stressed that there should be a push for cooperation between Afghanistan's neighboring countries to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The meeting was arranged amid "very important and sensitive" time, as the Afghan government and the Taliban failed to reach an agreement, and turbulence within the country is yet to be subdued and is spilling over to neighboring regions, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

On July 14, a terrorist attack on a bus in Pakistan claimed the lives of nine Chinese nationals who worked at the Dasu hydropower station, a joint program between the two countries. Although no organization has claimed responsibility yet, Chinese experts believed that terrorist groups such as Pakistani Taliban or the ETIM were behind the attack.

Due to a changing environment in Afghanistan, the ETIM terrorists may have fled to Pakistan where they collaborated with the Pakistani Taliban to launch an attack on China, some experts have said. But they also warned that if the situation in Afghanistan further deteriorates, Pakistan as well as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be in danger.

Qian said that China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all important members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), thus the joint action is a way to unite other regional and relevant countries to provide solution for the Afghan situation. "Since a significant solution needs time to put forward, such a small step may serve as a kick starter."

The US' hasty troop withdrawal from Afghanistan neither achieved the anti-terrorism goal, nor brought peace to the country, but created a new security black hole there, Wang said during his meeting with Qureshi.

US President Joe Biden on Friday authorized up to $100 million from an emergency fund to meet "unexpected urgent" refugee needs stemming from the situation in Afghanistan, and allocated $3.3 billion for the security forces of Afghanistan.

In recent days, the US has launched several airstrikes targeting Taliban positions in support of faltering Afghan government forces.

Apparently, the US doesn't want to facilitate stability in the country, as Washington's financial support for the Afghan government will further escalate the country's turmoil, Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Diao also said that if the US is looking for a solution to a stable Middle East, it should unite with Afghanistan's neighboring countries, promote a peaceful reconciliation via dialogue and negotiation.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 27, 2021 at 10:31pm
#US ‘really messed it up’ in #Afghanistan...they (#Americans) tried to look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one", says #Pakistan Prime Minister #ImranKhan in an interview with @JudyWoodruff of @NewsHour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/u-s-really-messed-it-up-in-afghan...

Judy Woodruff:

I hear that message.

At the same time, do you expect that, if the Taliban does succeed in Afghanistan, you're going to have a country next door where women, for one thing, are not allowed to have an education after the age of 8, that you're going to have a country run by a group of terrorists, in effect?

Imran Khan:

But, Judy, what are we supposed to do about it?

I mean, here were the U.S. for two decades in Afghanistan trying to force a military solution. The reason why we are in this position now is because the military solution failed. Now, what choices have we got? The best choice is that somehow we have a political settlement in Afghanistan where it is, as I repeat, an inclusive government.

So, Taliban sit down with the other side and they form an inclusive government. This is the best outcome. There is no other outcome, because the military solution has failed.

Judy Woodruff:

Are you prepared to accept Taliban victory next door? You're saying, in essence, there's nothing you — nothing more Pakistan can do.

Imran Khan:

Absolutely, there's nothing more we can do, except push them as much as we can for a political settlement. That's all.

But what happens in Afghanistan, we can only pray that the people of Afghanistan decide what government they want. And so we hope that that's what will happen in the end; they will form some sort of an inclusive government.

But that's for people of Afghanistan. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we have done what we can.

Judy Woodruff:

Last thing.

I do want to ask you, just take just a moment to ask you about a comment you made about the role of women in your country. You said in an interview last month that women themselves bear a large part of the responsibility for the concerning rise in the number of rape cases in Pakistan.

I want to ask you if you truly believe that. I mean, you're someone, you have lived in the West. You have traveled widely around the world. Do you believe women bear a large part of the responsibility for this?



Imran Khan:

Look, Judy, anyone who commits rape, solely and solely, that person is responsible. So let's be clear about that.

No matter whatever — how much ever a woman is provocative or whatever she wears, the person who commits rape, he is fully responsible. Never is the victim responsible.

My comments were completely taken out of context. They were simply talking about Pakistan society, where we are having a rise, a sharp rise in sex crimes. And sex crime does not include just women. More than rape are child abuse, which is going through the roof.
Comment by Riaz Haq on July 28, 2021 at 8:10am

#US, #India agree to expand multilateral security partnership to face #China's challenge & #Afghan situation. #Washington wants #Delhi to help isolate China. #Blinken talks of “shared values & democratic principles” #Afghanistan #Pakistan #QUAD https://apnews.com/article/government-and-politics-health-india-cor...

The top diplomats of India and the United States pledged Wednesday to expand their multilateral security partnership, underscoring the deepening of ties between two countries concerned over China’s growing influence in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met in New Delhi and sought to strengthen a regional front against Beijing’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and their cooperation in Afghanistan.

They also lauded each country’s help in fighting the coronavirus and said their vaccine partnership is an effort to end the pandemic.

“There are few relationships in the world that are more vital than one between the U.S. and India. We are the world’s two leading democracies and our diversity fuels our national strength,” Blinken said at a joint news conference.

Washington has made no secret of the U.S. desire for India’s help in isolating China. The two countries have steadily ramped up their military relationship and signed a string of defense deals.

The U.S. and India are part of the Quad regional alliance that also includes Japan and Australia and focuses on China’s growing economic and military strength. China has called the Quad an attempt to contain its ambitions.

Blinken’s India visit comes just days after the No. 2 U.S. diplomat, Wendy Sherman, was in China.

Blinken said he and Jaishankar also discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan, where the U.S. is expected to complete its military withdrawal in August. He called India’s contribution to the stability of Afghanistan “vital.”

Blinken said there was no “military solution” to the conflict in Afghanistan and that the country would turn into a “pariah state” if the Taliban takes control by force.

“We will continue to work together to sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country,” Blinken said.

Jaishankar said the world wishes to see an “independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan at peace with itself and with its neighbors,” and cautioned that the country’s “independence and sovereignty will only be ensured if it is free from malign influences.”

New Delhi has often expressed concern that a Taliban takeover could lead to security threats against India.

India has provided Afghan security forces with operational training and military equipment, even though it has had no troops on the ground. It has also provided more than $2 billion in development aid to Afghanistan.

In June, India’s foreign ministry said it was in contact with “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan to discuss its future. More recently, officials from the two countries have increased mutual visits.

“New Delhi is clearly stepping up its game on the Afghanistan front,” said Micheal Kugelman of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. “Its decision to engage more in regional diplomacy on Afghanistan signifies a desire to be more of a player than it has in the past.”

In a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later Wednesday, Blinken discussed the pandemic, security and defense cooperation, including Quad, and “shared values and democratic principles,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

Earlier during his visit, Blinken spoke to civil society leaders and said fundamental freedoms and rule of law are “tenets of democracies” like the U.S. and India.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 29, 2021 at 7:35am

China's FM welcomes #Taliban leader Mullah Baradar in Tianjin. #Beijing is investing heavily in #CentralAsia in recent years through its Belt and Road Initiative (#BRI) and offered to extend the #China-#Pakistan Economic Corridor (#CPEC) into #Afghanistan. https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/29/china/china-taliban-tianjin-afghanis...

China's Foreign Minister met with senior leaders of the Taliban in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Wednesday in the latest sign of warming ties between Beijing and the resurgent Islamist group.

During a meeting with Taliban's co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the group's political committee, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Taliban as an important military and political force in Afghanistan, and said he expected the Taliban to play an important role in the country's "peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process," according to China's Foreign Ministry.
Following the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has rapidly expanded its presence -- and now controls large swathes of country. The speed at which Afghan security forces have lost control to the Taliban has shocked many, and led to concerns the capital Kabul could be next to fall. All foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by August 31.
Wednesday's meeting, which was also attended by the heads of the Taliban's religious and publicity committees, is the latest move by the Chinese government to strengthen its relationship with the Islamist group.

Beijing has invested heavily in Central Asia in recent years through its Belt and Road trade and infrastructure scheme, and China's Foreign Ministry has previously discussed the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into Afghanistan.
During Wednesday's meeting, Wang referred to Afghanistan as China's largest neighbor, and emphasized the fate of the country should be "in the hands of the Afghan people."
Wang said the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan under US President Joe Biden marked the "failure of the US' policy towards Afghanistan," as well as an opportunity for the country to stabilize and develop.
"(China) respects Afghanistan's sovereign independence and territorial integrity, (and) always insists on non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs," Wang said.
For its part, the Islamist group told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post in early July that it considered China a "welcome friend."
Wang also mentioned the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which he called an "international terrorist organization," and said the Taliban should "completely sever all ties" with the group to promote regional stability.
The Chinese government has regularly accused the ETIM of planning and undertaking terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, accusations it has used to justify its widespread crackdown in the Western region.
Speaking in India on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said both Washington and New Delhi had a "strong interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan" and described the Taliban's military advances as "deeply troubling."
Blinken added that the US and its partners would continue to work together to "sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country."

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 29, 2021 at 4:54pm

#US IG Sopko on #Afghanistan talks of #American 'Hubris' & 'Mendacity': "We exaggerated, overexaggerated....Our generals did. Our ambassadors did. All of our officials did, to go to Congress and the American people about 'We're just turning the corner"

https://www.voanews.com/us-afghanistan-troop-withdrawal/hubris-and-...

Current and future attempts by the United States to use its military might abroad could very well meet the same fate as the country's nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan, a U.S. government watchdog warned, citing the repeated failure of top officials to learn from their mistakes.

U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko unleashed the blunt assessment Thursday during a discussion with reporters, accusing wave after wave of top-ranking defense officials and diplomats of lying to themselves, as well as the American public.

"We exaggerated, overexaggerated," Sopko said in response to a question from VOA. "Our generals did. Our ambassadors did. All of our officials did, to go to Congress and the American people about 'We're just turning the corner.'

"We turned the corner so much, we did 360 degrees," he said. "We're like a top."

Sopko, speaking to the Defense Writers Group, said that while there were "multiple reasons" the U.S. failed to create a more effective and cohesive Afghan military, some of it was "this hubris that we can somehow take a country that was desolate in 2001 and turn it into little Norway."

But another key factor, he said, was "mendacity."

Top ranking U.S. military leaders "knew how bad the Afghan military was," Sopko said, adding that they tried to keep such problems hidden.

'We changed the goal posts'

"Every time we had a problem with the Afghan military, we changed the goal posts," he said. "The U.S. military changed the goal posts and made it easier to show success. And then, finally, when they couldn't even do that, they classified the assessment tool."

Sopko cautioned that part of the problem with setting up Afghanistan for success also hinged on Washington's refusal over almost 20 years to plan for long-term success.

"We've highlighted time and again we had unrealistic timelines for all of our work," he said, pointing to a series of reports by his office during the past 12 years.

"Four-star generals, four-star military, four-star ambassadors forced the USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] to try to show success in short timelines, which they themselves knew were never going to work," Sopko said. "These short timelines, which have no basis in reality except the political reality of the appropriations cycle or whatever, whatever is popular at the moment, are dooming us to failure.

"That unfortunately is a problem not just with Afghanistan," he added. "I think you find it in other countries where we've gone in."

Sopko's critique Thursday came just after the release of his office's most recent report, which described the situation on the ground in Afghanistan as "bleak" and warned that the Afghan government could be facing an "existential crisis."

Pentagon and State Department officials did not immediately respond to Sopko's criticism, but they repeatedly have defended U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Last week, America's most senior military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, said Afghan forces were well trained and well equipped, even though the Taliban had "strategic momentum."

Milley also has defended the U.S. model known as “train, advise and assist,” calling it "the best approach" to counterterrorism.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 30, 2021 at 5:57pm

Daniel Hale of UASF Intelligence: “During one five-month stretch of an operation in Afghanistan, the documents revealed, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were not the intended targets.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/daniel-hale-drone...

In 2013, Daniel Hale was at an antiwar conference in D.C. when a man recounted that two family members had been killed in a U.S. drone strike. The Yemeni man, through tears, said his relatives had been trying to encourage young men to leave al-Qaeda.

Hale realized he had watched the fatal attack from a base in Afghanistan. At the time, he and his colleagues in Air Force intelligence viewed it as a success. Now he was horrified.

It was such experiences, Hale told a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday, that led him to leak classified information about drone warfare to a reporter after leaving the military.

“I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless,” he said in court. He said he shared what “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”


U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady sentenced Hale, 33, of Nashville, to 45 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act, saying his disclosure of documents went beyond his “courageous and principled” stance on drones.

“You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people,” O’Grady said. “You could have been a whistleblower . . . without taking any of these documents.”

Hale had pleaded guilty to one of five charges related to his dissemination of the documents; at sentencing, O’Grady dismissed the other four with prejudice, meaning they cannot easily be brought against him again.

Hale’s attorneys and advocates argued that the disclosures provided a valuable public service. The documents included a report finding that reliance on deadly attacks was undermining intelligence gathering. During one five-month stretch of an operation in Afghanistan, the documents revealed, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were not the intended targets.

Hale also disclosed the criteria for placing a person on the terrorism watch list, information that Muslim civil rights lawyers said in a letter to the court had helped them challenge the constitutionality of that system.

“I believe he only spoke out for humanitarian and educational purposes,” journalist Sonia Kennebeck told the court in a letter. She featured Hale in a 2016 documentary about drone warfare.

Prosecutors countered that Hale had put Americans at risk to boost his own ego. They noted that he began taking classified information to his home only a few weeks into a job at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2014, not long after swearing to preserve the government’s secrets.

“Hale did not in any way contribute to the public debate about how we fight wars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said in court. “All he did was endanger the people who are doing the fighting.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 31, 2021 at 8:23pm

#Russia's envoy Zamir Kabulov on #Pakistan: "Pakistan is Russia’s solid partner. We are on the same wavelength...Pakistan is interested in Afghanistan returning to normality and becoming a reliable trade and economic bridge connecting Pakistan and Eurasia" https://tass.com/politics/1320841

Some forces in Pakistan would like to replicate what the Afghan Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) did and destabilize the situation in the country, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said during an online briefing on Thursday.

"Pakistan is Russia’s solid partner. We are on the same wavelength as top Pakistani officials who have made public statements that they are not interested in Afghanistan turning into an Islamic Emirate that would influence Pakistani society, where there are forces that would be inspired by the Afghan Taliban’s experience and would try to destabilize the situation," he pointed out.

"Pakistan, along with Russia and almost all neighboring countries, is interested in Afghanistan returning to normality and becoming a reliable trade and economic bridge connecting Pakistan and Eurasia," Kabulov noted.

The Russian presidential envoy emphasized that a rise in tensions between Kabul and Islamabad had been caused primarily by the domestic political situation in Afghanistan. "Sometimes it seems that when those in Kabul who are supposed to protect their land from the Taliban fail to do that, they start searching for someone to blame and always consider Pakistan to be a suitable scapegoat," Kabulov said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 5, 2021 at 9:16am

“Is Pakistan fueling a Taliban takeover?” #Afghan government points a finger at #Pakistan to divert attention from its own colossal failures. It's hard to separate fact from fiction when information is being weaponized. #Taliban https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/pakistan-fuelling-tal..., via @LowyInstitute

As districts fall to the Taliban one after another without resistance, the government in Afghanistan has squarely put the blame on Pakistan for the mayhem in the country.

This is because the Afghan officials believe that without help from Pakistan, the Taliban could not possibly takeover Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani chose to spark a war of words between Kabul and Islamabad in recent weeks after declaring Pakistan has played a “negative role in the Afghan conflict”.

But this effort to continually blame Pakistan is not only contrary to the evidence available on the ground but also presents a misleading narrative that masks the failures of the Afghan government itself. Oft neglected is the role of rampant corruption that delegitimised the Afghan government in the districts, allowing for an easy takeover by the Taliban. Rather than solely relying on brute force, which would require financial or covert military support from Pakistan, instead the Taliban is by and large seizing territory swiftly and regularly via local political deals over which Pakistan has no possible control.

In fact, contrary to the claims of the Afghan government, Pakistan has been helping the Afghan National Army. Dozens of Afghan soldiers have crossed the border into Pakistan to escape Taliban attacks. In each instance, Pakistan has provided haven to the Afghan soldiers and returned them to Afghan authorities with respect and dignity.

But it is hard to separate fact from fiction at a time when information amounts to heavy artillery in a broader political battle for support. Claims that Pakistan supports the Taliban in a “double game” is one such fiction that has persisted despite evidence to the contrary. It has severely damaged both the US war effort in Afghanistan and also Washington’s relations with Islamabad.

For the Ghani government, blaming Pakistan as the force behind the Taliban achieves twin political goals. It strips the Taliban of legitimacy as a local Afghan-led movement that aspires to share in governing Afghanistan, and shifts the burden of responsibility away from the Afghan government to its neighbour Pakistan as a reason for the US failures. Not only is this tactic disingenuous, dismissing all opposition as “Pakistani backed Taliban” and skating over the reasons why the Taliban continues to win support from the Afghan people themselves, it ignores support Pakistan has provided for Afghans, either as refugees or the hundreds of thousands that have studied and worked in Pakistan.

Moreover, it was the United States by negotiating directly with the Taliban that provided the group with legitimacy as an important player in the future of Afghanistan. The Ghani government had resisted dialogue with the Taliban, only to see the United States change its approach out of frustration with the Afghan leadership for its deep-rooted corruption and mismanagement, squandering the chance to govern and develop Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to maintain support.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 5, 2021 at 9:51pm

Carter Malkasian, ex advisor to #US General Dunford, says: "if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan" #Taliban #Afghanistan #Pakistan https://www.csis.org/analysis/us-legacy-afghanistan-past-present-an...

Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else.

The lack of unity within the government forces and tribes that compose it versus the relative unity that the Taliban have. That’s not to say they’re some kind of cohesive military force. They’re not. But if you compare the two relatively, the Taliban look a lot more coherent than the government does.

So what I wanted to do in the book, though, was highlight this other factor that was striking me repeatedly as I – as I studied Afghanistan: that something more was going on here, that I can’t explain how the government is being defeated or the Afghan military is being defeated if I look at solely the factors that we discussed here.

Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else.

And the thing I wanted to highlight there was how the Afghan forces have difficulty inspiring their men to fight hard. The Taliban can claim to be fighting for things deeply central to Afghan identity: We have an occupier here. You need to go and fight against that occupation. It’s in the history of the country. And honestly, it’s not something that’s solely in Afghan history. It’s something that tends to be important for peoples. We saw it in Vietnam. We’ve seen it in our own American Revolution. So that is a point that the Taliban are able to use. The government, on the other hand, has great difficulty using that point because they’re aligned with us and because there is more questioning about is the government really fighting here for what’s entirely right.

Now, the Islam part of this is – one needs to be extremely careful with because what I’m not saying here is that Islam is, like, inherently violent or something like that. What I am saying is that for someone who’s fighting for the government to know that they’re fighting on the side of a foreign occupier plus a foreign occupier who shares a different set of beliefs, they – more difficult to gather motivation, which I don’t think is something terribly hard to understand. But again, I do want to emphasize that I see a multiplicity of causes here, but I think this is an important one that deserves highlighting.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 7, 2021 at 10:53am

#US Gold Star Families Accuse Major Banks of Aiding #Terrorists. Standard Chartered Bank is accused for doing business with #Pakistan's Fatima #Fertilizer & Pakarab Fertilizers whose products were in IEDs used to kill #Americans in #Afghanistan https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/business/banks-terrorism-gold-st...

Anne Smedinghoff, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, was escorting Afghan journalists on an outing when a roadside bomb killed her in 2013. The bomb’s design relied on fertilizer made in Pakistan, at two factories that regularly supplied a nearby Taliban bomb-making operation — a fact that U.S. authorities had publicized.

The factories, Fatima Fertilizer and Pakarab Fertilizers, were not fly-by-night organizations. Both did business in U.S. dollars through accounts at the London-based bank Standard Chartered.

Now Ms. Smedinghoff’s family and a group of nearly 500 others — including soldiers and civilians who were severely wounded in Afghanistan and their families, along with the families of victims who were killed — are accusing some of the world’s largest banks of helping terrorists carry out their attacks. Among the defendants are Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Danske Bank.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, include 115 Gold Star families — relatives of American military service members killed in the war — as well as relatives of noncombatants like Ms. Smedinghoff, who was killed while taking the journalists to watch U.S. officials donate books to a school. They are seeking billions of dollars in damages, arguing that the banks provided accounts, transfers and other routine services to companies and individuals who they knew were helping terrorist networks responsible for hundreds of deadly attacks.

The lawsuit will be a powerful test of the reach of a 2016 antiterrorism law, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. It allows terrorism victims and their families to seek relief from people, entities and countries that have provided “material support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or persons that engage in terrorist activities against the United States.”

Victims and their families have sued banks under the law before, with mixed results. The suit filed on Thursday is notable because it takes a broad approach: Some of the relationships it cites are ones that banks had with people and companies that dealt with the attackers, rather than services provided directly to known terrorists.

This single degree of remove could allow the banks to argue that their activities were not directly related to the bombings that the lawsuit describes because their customers were legitimate businesses, even if those customers had dealings with criminals. If successful, the suit could open the door to a flood of similar cases.

A representative of Danske Bank had no immediate comment. Representatives of Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered declined to comment.

The 2016 law was passed to give terrorism victims more leeway to sue governments and other entities that they believe have aided terrorism. Before it passed, such suits could go forward only against entities that the U.S. government had designated as state sponsors of terror. The law was written to help families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks pursue legal claims against Saudi Arabia for its role in aiding their architect, Osama bin Laden.

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