Background Briefing: August 29, 2021


The Scope and Size of ISIS Inside Afghanistan

We begin with the last days of the exit from Kabul amid a growing threat from ISIS-K whose operatives blew up a group of Marines outside of a gate into the Kabul airport killing 13 and wounding 18 along with killing close to 200 Afghans including 4 Taliban guards. Joining us to investigate the size and scope of ISIS inside of Afghanistan is Michael Weiss, a columnist for The Daily Beast who has interviewed ISIS operatives and reported from rebel-held Syria and is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. He joins us to discuss the schism between the Taliban and ISIS whose ambitions go beyond the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to a caliphate forged in blood as infidels are put to the sword in displays of merciless brutality. With reports indicating the U.S. may have let the head of ISIS in Afghanistan out of jail when they abandoned Bagram air base, we assess the likelihood of more attacks as the last Americans leave Afghanistan along with the forces sent in to protect the evacuation, and the possibility of a civil war between ISIS-K and the Taliban breaking out.


What Went Wrong at the Gate to the Kabul Airport?

Then we look into the “over the horizon” strategy the U.S. has in dealing with ISIS and Al Qaeda following the drone strike that killed 2 ISIS-K planners near the Pakistan border and another strike today in Kabul. Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who was an Assistant Secretary of Defense and is the author of A New National Security Strategy in an Age of Terrorists, Tyrants, and Weapons of Mass Destruction, joins us. We discuss what went wrong at the gate to the Kabul airport with Marines mingling among a crowd of desperate Afghans, making them targets for a suicide bomber.



An Assessment of the I.C.’s Inconclusive Report on the Origin of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Then finally we assess the report from the U.S. Intelligence Community on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic following Friday’s release of a two-page declassified summary which has one intelligence agency having moderate confidence that the pandemic was caused by a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology while four intelligence agencies and the National Intelligence Council have low confidence that the pandemic came from a zoonotic leap between animals and humans. Shannon Bennett, the Chief of Science and Dean of Science and Research Collections at the California Academy of Sciences who studies diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, joins us to discuss the inconclusive report and the lack of evidence to confirm a lab accident.