Taliban now working with America and UK as fears of brutal ISIS-K caliphate explode

Former British officer in dire warning as Taliban close Kabul airport road

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BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner said he “never thought it was possible” that the UK, US and the Taliban may join up for future intelligence projects to fight ISIS-K after threats of an imminent terror attack at Kabul Airport reached boiling point. Mr Gardner explained the Taliban have a “vested interest” to keep terror groups out as they threaten the security and order of Afghanistan but they may be forced to work with Western forces to tackle this new generation of terrorists. James Heappey told BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney the UK was “relying” on the Taliban to help with the security at Kabul Airport following government advice to stay away from the area due to an “imminent” terror attack.

Speaking on BBC News, Mr Gardner gave a brief description of the new ISIS-K. 

He explained: “Well if you thought that the Taliban were extreme, they are nothing compared to the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan which calls itself ISIS-K.

“They’ve got a relatively small number of people but last year alone in Kabul they carried out 24 attacks, they are absolutely ruthless and they have targeted girls’ schools, hospitals, all sorts of civilian targets.

“The threats reported is that they are looking to cause chaos at the airport because there are around 6,000+ US and British soldiers operating at the airport.”

Mr Gardner added the terror group was seeking to establish a base of operations in Afghanistan to carry out terror attacks across the world and attacks on Kabul Airport would bring international focus on them. 

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The journalist also believes it is likely to see Western and Taliban joint operations to tackle ISIS-K. 

He explained: “Ironically, I think we’re going to see future intelligence cooperation, I never thought this was possible but I think it’s gonna happen between the West and the Taliban to try to stop that happening.

“And it’s indicative that the CIA Chief William Burns has recently in the last few days been into Kabul and met the Taliban political chief.

“I suspect that one of the things they’ve discussed is how to stop the terror attacks being launched from Afghanistan.”

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey admitted the UK was now relying on the Taliban to protect Afghan civilians in Kabul Airport after the UK received “credible” information that a terror attack could happen within “hours”.

Kabul: Heappey on whether UK is 'relying' on Taliban

During a media round earlier this week, Mr Heappey explained the likelihood of a terror attack at Kabul Airport increased the more troops withdrew from the area.

For that reason, he was unable to give specific dates on when UK and other personnel would completely leave Kabul over fears of a terror reprisal.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace explained to Sky News that groups like ISIS will want to be seen “chasing” the West out of Afghanistan as it would fit their narrative.

But now, the UK travel advice says people should not visit Kabul Airport with Mr Heappey telling LBC an attack could happen within hours of his media round. 

In fact, the minister revealed he was given government lines in case an attack happened during his interview. 

Appearing on BBC Radio 4, Mr Heappey explained the situation on the ground and revealed the Taliban were mainly responsible for the protection of Afghan citizens.

He explained: “People are desperate, people are fearing for their lives anyway.

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“So I think there is I think an appetite amongst many in the queue to take their chances [to visit the airport] but the reporting of this threat is very credible indeed and there is a real imminence to it.

“We are doing our best to provide security for those who are in the queue but the reality is that our mission by definition has no depth to it.

“We are holding very defined pieces of ground in the airport and in the hotel and we’re relying on the Taliban for all of the security beyond.”

Host Martha Kearney picked up on what Mr Heappey said and responded: “So you’re relying on the Taliban to protect the people waiting at the airport and possibly the British and other international forces inside from this potential attack by Islamic State?”

Mr Heappey clarified: “The first part, yes, the second part, we are certain that from a force protection perspective we are able to protect ourselves.

“But clearly we have a responsibility to those in the queue outside and that’s why the travel advice has changed.

“But you will be seeing pictures from the airport already this morning that show that a very large number of people have not chosen to leave.

“I can only say that the threat is severe, we will do our best to protect those that are there.”

UK Government advice changed overnight to urge people not to visit Kabul Airport over fears of a terror attack. 

The US is continuing to push ahead with the August 31 troop withdrawal date despite calls from G7 leaders to extend it. 

The Taliban said in a press interview that there would be “consequences” if the US stayed beyond that date. 

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