Debate continues over the probability and likelihood of a nuclear ISIS. While reportedly improbable, Central Asia could be a starting point for the Islamic State’s nuclear ambitions.
ISIS in Central Asia
In March, terrorists handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead before and after the bombing of a Shi’ite mosque.
Though officials continue to deny an Islamic State presence in Pakistan, “they’re operating there,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).
“Their recruiting pamphlets are there across Pakistan; brick-and-mortar office buildings.”
Yet, a bigger concern is the growth of ISIS in neighboring Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region called for more troops because ISIS and al-Qaeda were increasing in strength.
“The ISIS influence is stronger in Afghanistan than in Pakistan,” claims this security analyst.
“However, Pakistan would not be able to counter the threat alone if he conflict in Afghanistan worsens and Pakistani and Afghani militants inspired by the ISIS try to capture territory along the Pak-Afghan border for establishing a ‘caliphate.’”
While clearly present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Islamic State’s “hold” on Central Asia as a whole is arguable.
“No Central Asian government has produced much by way of proof that Islamic State is operating in any substantial fashion within the region,” said a blogger on Eurasianet.org.
Barring Taliban deterrence, some 3.8 million registered Afghan voters are expected to show up to the polls tomorrow. Logistics challenges mean the final winner may not be known for several weeks, but multiple sources agree that the 2014 elections are a crucial step in Afghanistan’s journey toward democracy.
So-called elections have been taking place in Afghanistan since 2004, but have been marred by fraud and violence. Those issues are once again a concern for this year’s elections; ballot-stuffing could be an issue since Afghans hold multiple voting cards. The 2009 elections were reportedly marred by this occurrence, resulting in a win-by-default victory for current President Hamid Karzai.
New electoral laws passed last year not only made tomorrow’s election possible, they set a up a commission to deal with voter fraud “and other irregularities.” As the BBC notes, there’s a lot riding on tomorrow’s polling: “Donor countries have made it clear that continuing aid depends on fair elections.”
PRAY: Pray that the Taliban will not stop tomorrow’s elections from taking place. Pray that no more bystanders will die at the hands of terrorists. Pray for a free election and peaceful transfer of power.
Afghanistan has been a hotspot for conflict in modern history and a common battleground for international troops. As the December 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal draws near, pray it won’t leave Afghanistan in Taliban hands.
The country was taken over by Socialists in 1978, and Western forces came alongside Afghan rebels to try and reverse the Soviet land-grab. According to Peace Direct, the U.S., UK and Saudi Arabia all provided support to resistance groups. Over a decade later, Soviet troops withdrew and Afghanistan was declared an Islamic state in 1992.
As the country descended into civil war, the Taliban emerged as a political and religious power player. Terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies brought Western attention back to Afghanistan, the home base of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden, once more. Sanctions and targeted attacks began in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the U.S. and NATO began a major push on Afghan soil.
U.S. and UK troops ousted the Taliban government in December 2001. More troops were quickly sent by France, Germany and Italy to fight the Islamic insurgency. In 2006, NATO took over Afghanistan’s national security, “its first-ever operational commitment outside of Europe”, according to BBC.
After more than a decade of conflict, foreign troops are packing up and heading home. Around 130,000 NATO troops are due to leave by the December deadline; the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops hinges on an unsigned security agreement.
With three days remaining until Afghanistan’s presidential and provisional elections, a strong prayer effort is needed. “Share” this series on social media and encourage more believers to intercede for Afghanistan.
PRAY: Pray that the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 will not lead to a return to civil war.
April Fool’s! Afghanistan hasn’t cancelled their elections. Despite multiple attempts by the Taliban to stop the country’s democratic progress, voting will still take place on Saturday, April 5.
But why is this event so important in the first place?
“As Afghanistan goes, so goes this whole Central Asia area,” E3 Partners’ Middle East expert Tom Doyle explained in yesterday’s article. Afghanistan is a catalyst for change in a region where radical Islam has been a power player for centuries.
Shifting the country’s control away from the Taliban could result in more freedoms and hope for Afghanistan’s people. Decades of instability and conflict have left the national economy and infrastructure in ruins, and refugees comprise most of Afghanistan’s population.
While religious freedom is an unrealistic hope, Doyle noted, the election of a “moderate” candidate has potential to bring them a little more protection. Today, any connection to Christianity is deadly in Afghanistan. People who follow Christ are viewed as apostates and if their faith is discovered, they automatically receive the death penalty.
Watch this video to see what life is like for Afghan Christians. Then, share it with your friends on social media. Ask them to join you in praying for Afghanistan this week.
PRAY: Pray that the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan will diminish.