Friday, October 15, 2021

Afghanistan Mosque Bombing Kills at Least 38 Shiite Worshippers in Kanduhar

The news for Biden is so-bad all-around there's not enough room for above-the-fold headlines in the nation's newspapers. The bad news is packing it, overwhelming everything else. 

I hate to predict elections (because really, you never know until voters actually vote), but if historical precedent is any clue, 2022 is going to be an electoral tsunami like we've never seen. I feel like we're back in the 1970 and Jimmy Carter is whining about the "malaise" he couldn't fix. 

I'll be surprised if Biden doesn't mandate thermostats lowered to 65 degrees this winter and tell regular folks to put on a cardigan sweaters.

At WSJ, "Afghanistan Mosque Bombing Kills at Least 38 Shiite Worshippers":

A complex suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan’s main city of Kandahar killed at least 38 worshipers Friday, breaking two months of relative peace in the Taliban’s historic stronghold and highlighting the threat posed by a spreading presence of Islamic State.

While nobody took immediate responsibility, Friday’s attack followed a suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State that killed some 100 people on Oct. 8 at a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz. The extremist group’s regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP, has repeatedly targeted Afghanistan’s Shiite minority in recent months.

Kandahar’s main hospital, Mirwais, said it received 38 fatalities and 72 people who were injured in the blast. Mohammad Qasam, the chief doctor at the hospital, warned that the death toll could rise.

“The prayer had ended. We were preparing to leave the mosque when we heard gunfire outside. A few seconds later, there was a blast inside. I was close to the entrance and managed to escape quickly,” said the witness. He said two suicide bombers detonated outside the mosque and a third blew himself up inside.

While both the Taliban and Islamic State adhere to a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, the two groups have profound ideological differences and consider each other enemies. Though the Taliban persecuted Shiites in the past, they have since softened their position and say that, under their rule, the religious freedom of Afghanistan’s Shiite community will be safeguarded. Islamic State considers all Shiite Muslims infidels who should be killed. The Taliban condemned the attack and directed their security forces “to find the perpetrators as soon as possible and bring them to justice,” according to a statement released by the group’s chief spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid.

The recent series of deadly bombings present a challenge to the Taliban government. Since the Taliban toppled the U.S.-backed Afghan republic on Aug. 15 and proclaimed a restored Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, improved security has been a key source of legitimacy for Afghanistan’s new rulers. Yet ISKP—the only significant militant group currently operating in Afghanistan—has struck many high-profile targets since then, including a bombing outside Kabul airport that killed 200 Afghans waiting to be evacuated and 13 U.S. service members.

Friday’s blast shows that the Taliban are struggling to guarantee security even in Kandahar, their historical stronghold.

“The Taliban have been dismissive of the Islamic State’s threat—and it is showing how wrong they are,” said Asfandyar Mir, an Afghanistan expert at the United States Institute of Peace. “Carrying out this attack in the Taliban’s heartland is a clear signal that the Islamic State wants to take the fight to the Taliban, bleed their legitimacy and sovereignty over Afghanistan.”

The mosque bombing interrupted a period of unusual peace in southern Afghanistan, home to some of the deadliest battlegrounds of the 20-year war waged by the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan allies.

“When the Taliban took over the country, I thought we would be rid of war but now I think the situation may get even worse in the future,” said Navid, a resident of Kandahar city who didn’t want his surname to be used. “The harsh truth, which we all have to accept, is that there is no peace in Afghanistan. We will never be able to live peacefully, neither under the previous government nor the current Islamic Emirate,” he added.

Afghanistan has largely avoided the kind of sectarian strife that plagues much of the Muslim world. ISKP, which was formed by spinoff factions of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban in 2014, was the first group to systematically target Shiite Muslims, who make up around a fifth of Afghanistan’s population...