This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress is the 7th report on Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES). The report summarizes significant events involving OES and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report covers the period from April 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023.
This quarter, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) conducted a series of small-scale attacks against the Taliban this quarter while focusing on reorganization following the loss of experienced personnel in Taliban raids. The Taliban improved its capacity to disrupt ISIS-K this quarter, conducting at least six raids against ISIS-K leaders and attack plotters. These included an operation that killed the senior ISIS-K leader responsible for planning the August 2021 attack on the Kabul airport. Despite this drop in terrorist activity, ISIS-K’s improvised explosive devices remained the leading cause of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, according to a UN report.
While the Taliban demonstrated some success in countering ISIS-K this quarter, it was unable to prevent attacks on low-security targets, including an attack that killed an acting Taliban governor in June. The Taliban worked to expand and deepen diplomatic relations with limited success, as no country has formally recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. State said that the Taliban’s continued human rights abuses, particularly the increased restrictions on women and girls, remain a major obstacle to more normalized relations with the United States and the international community. Neighboring countries engaged with the Taliban while expressing various concerns about the administration of Afghanistan.
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan continued to worsen this quarter, with the number of people in need reaching 28.8 million in May 2023. This is more than a 400 percent increase from the 6.3 million requiring aid in 2019. More than 15 million Afghans are acutely food insecure, with 2.8 million people experiencing emergency levels of hunger. Domestic food production has been reduced by natural disasters, including droughts and locust outbreaks. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided more than $422 million to the World Food Programme for food assistance in Afghanistan in FY 2023, including $78.5 million this quarter. USAID food assistance efforts include the provision in-kind food assistance, cash transfers for food, and food vouchers.
On April 4, the Taliban extended its ban on women working with NGOs to include a prohibition on women working with UN programs. This will negatively impact aid operations throughout Afghanistan. The Taliban’s decrees undermine the ability of humanitarian organizations to reach the estimated 11.6 million women and girls who need humanitarian assistance, as restrictions on female staff caused several USAID implementers to suspend operations in Afghanistan.
During the quarter, the Lead IG and partner agencies published 10 reports related to OES, including reports on DoD screening of Afghan evacuees; DoD management of Afghan security funding; DoD management of funds for resettling Afghan SIVs; and one sentencing related to a criminal fraud investigation.
The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, State OIG, and USAID OIG—to work together to develop and carry out joint, comprehensive, and strategic oversight. Each IG retains statutory independence, but together they apply their extensive regional experience and in-depth institutional knowledge to conduct whole-of-government oversight of these overseas contingency operations.