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Security Brief: CENTCOM Week of February 28, 2022

Updated: Mar 30

Week of Monday, February 28, 2022 | Issue 63

Alberto Suarez Sutil, Sofia Pantoula, CENTCOM Team


Location of Peshawar, Pakistan[1]


Date: March 4, 2022

Location: Kucha Risaldar mosque, Peshawar, Pakistan

Parties involved: Pakistan; Afghanistan; the Taliban; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP); the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K); Shiite Muslims

The event: On March 4, 2022, two armed men opened fire on the police outside the Kucha Risaldar mosque and one of them detonated a bomb inside the Shiite Muslim mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan.[2] At least 63 people were killed and 196 were wounded. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed that the bomber was from Afghanistan.[3] TTP and ISIS-K carried out similar attacks in the past. Attacks against Pakistani security forces have increased in recent months.[4] Pakistan has blamed the attacks on the Taliban who deny that Afghanistan is used by terrorist groups as a base.[5] Pakistan and Afghanistan have held talks on regional projects and trade, but have not discussed security issues.[6] The March 4 attack happened two days after an explosion hit a police convoy in Quetta, Pakistan, killing three people, amongst them a police inspector, and wounding 27.[7]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The attack very likely indicates that ISIS-K aims to expand its influence in neighboring Pakistan pursuing its greater regional scope. TTP and ISIS-K will very likely continue targeting Pakistan’s minority Shiite Muslims in the upcoming weeks.

  • Pakistani security forces will very likely strengthen security protocols in border areas with Afghanistan and near Shiite worship areas. It is unlikely that these measures will hinder ISIS-K from pursuing its expansion to Pakistan. Counterterrorism operations against the TTP and ISIS-K will very likely lead to further terrorist attacks.

  • Although Afghanistan and Pakistan have held talks for regional cooperation, it is unlikely that the cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan will continue due to the rise in TTP-claimed attacks. There is a roughly even chance that Afghanistan and Pakistan will collaborate via joint intelligence sharing and strengthening border controls against ISIS-K if the attacks in Pakistan increase.

  • The March 4 attack and the March 2 bombing of the police convoy in Quetta, Pakistan very likely indicate instability in Pakistani regions close to Afghanistan. Similar bombings will likely continue in the upcoming weeks, likely worsening the area’s security.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] “Location of Peshawar, Pakistan” by Google Maps

[2] Dozens killed as mosque bombed in northwest Pakistan, Al Jazeera, March 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/4/at-least-30-killed-as-mosque-bombed-in-northwest

[3] Death toll climbs to 63 in deadly Pakistan IS mosque attack, Associated Press, March 2022, https://apnews.com/article/islamic-state-group-afghanistan-religion-taliban-peshawar-0e21d148ab4ab25e177f9d53f1ccff23

[4] Dozens killed as mosque bombed in northwest Pakistan, Al Jazeera, March 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/4/at-least-30-killedas-mosque-bombed-in-northwest

[5] Pakistani soldiers killed in firing from Afghanistan: Military, Al Jazeera, February 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/6/firing-from-afghanistan-kills-five-pakistan-troops-pakistan-army

[6] Pakistan, Afghanistan pledge coordination on border crossings, Al Jazeera, January 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/31/pakistan-afghanistan-to-agree-coordination-of-border-crossings

[7] Bombing targets police van in southwest Pakistan, killing 3, Associated Press, March 2022, https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-bombings-taliban-ebffc1d736311a85b26610b4be167cee

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