‘Al-Qaeda was terrorism version 1, ISIS is version 6’ – Afghan President Ghani to RT

Still from RT video.
Islamic State cannot be dismissed as a “medieval” cult, and the world is encouraging its growth by allowing more failed states to emerge, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani told RT.

“If Al-Qaeda was terrorism version one, Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is terrorism version six,” Ghani told Oksana Boiko in an exclusive interview on RT’s Worlds Apart program.

READ MORE: Cr-Isis of state? Ft. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan

Ghani, previously a professor of anthropology in some of the world’s top universities, who took over from Hamid Karzai after winning last year’s presidential poll, warns against caricaturing the radical Islamists as simple-minded throwbacks.

“I don't attribute medieval-ness to anybody. We're contemporaries. There's no one who is medieval. Anyone who lives in the 21st century is a product of the 21st century. It's patronizing to call others medieval,” says the 66-year-old.

“The organizational form is totally modern. The means of communication deployed, the networking, the recruitment through the internet. So the morphology involved is very rapid – if you look into network theory, it shows that Daesh bypassed about four to five stages of network formation in a very short period. That means that innovation within the psychological system is very rapid.”

Ghani warns that “if you are going to contain it, we need to be equally fast, creative and coordinated.” Instead, from North Africa and all the way to Afghanistan lies a plethora of countries in various degrees of distress.

“What is characteristic now is that the state collapse has become a pattern. It's not an isolated event. So previously, if you had a weak link, now you have a broken chain,” says Ghani, who has written a book-length study of failed states.

“The level of territorial conquest Daesh has managed to achieve is unprecedented. It has managed to do, in a period of collapsed time, what took Al-Qaeda or other organizations years, or at times decade of planning. So, that speaks both of its own abilities, but also an enabling environment – the collapse of the Syrian state on the one hand, and the incompetence of the Iraqi on the other.”

With growing a impact from transnational forces, both ideological, such as militant Islam, and financial – as capitalism spreads, and wealthy and powerful individuals in one country sponsor terrorism in another – the entire national state system is under pressure.

“We now do not have rules of the game in conduct between states. And we do not have an agreement as to how to reconstitute the state system as a viable way, or to coordinate our responses at the national level, the regional level, and the global level.”

But after decades of failed interventions, including those in his own country, which has been at the mercy of Soviet and US troops, as well as international terrorist organizations and Pakistani influence, Ghani cautioned against using individual countries to fight global ideological battles.

“The lesson is, anyone who plays with these things, they should know they're playing with fire, their hand is going to be burned. And looking at countries as battlefields is not only morally wrong, it is politically suicidal. It will blow back, and the hand that feeds will be bitten.”

Until a new international consensus emerges, Ghani believes radical groups such as Islamic State will spread among the lawlessness, and once they do, no peaceful means can stop them, meaning that thousands more lives are yet to be lost.