Since the withdrawal of US forces from the country and the Taliban’s takeover of power, dozens of Afghan intelligence agents have resorted to ISIS, apparently to escape the movement’s pursuit of them.
Left to their fate, chased by the Taliban, some former members of elite military units and the US-trained intelligence service have joined the only organization now challenging the country’s new rulers, ISIS
A former official confirms
In this context, a former Afghan official confirmed, according to what the Wall Street Journal reported, that an Afghan army officer who was in charge of a weapons and ammunition depot in Gardez, the capital of the southeastern province of Paktia, joined the regional branch of the extremist organization, Khorasan Province, and was killed a week ago. In a clash with Taliban fighters.
He also confirmed that many other men he knew, all members of the intelligence and army, also joined ISIS-K after the Taliban searched their homes, asking them to present themselves to the country’s new authorities.
Taliban militants (AFP archive)
In turn, a resident of the Karabakh region north of Kabul reported that his cousin, a former prominent member of the Afghan Special Forces, disappeared last September, only to be found out later to be part of an ISIS cell.
He also confirmed that four other members of the army he knew had joined the ranks of the organization in recent weeks.
‘ISIS is very attractive’
For his part, Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the National Directorate of Security’s spy agency who had previously left the country, considered that “ISIS has become very attractive to some former members of the security forces, especially in some areas.”
“If there were other resistance groups to the movement, they would have joined it, but at the moment they see only one option against the Taliban,” he explained.
ISIS elements in Afghanistan
A few.. BUT!
It is noteworthy that although this number of defectors is relatively small, it is increasing, according to what was confirmed by Taliban leaders and former security officials in the country, as well as people close to them.
Perhaps the danger posed by these defectors, although few in number to date, lies in the crucial expertise in intelligence gathering and warfare techniques, which may enhance the ability of the extremist organization to compete with the Taliban.
Afghan security forces in Kandahar (archive)
Last month, ISIS-Khorasan claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including a suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite mosque in Kunduz province, which killed about 100 people, in an attempt to stoke sectarian hatred and undermine governance in the country.
It is believed that the organization has been led since 2020, “Shehab al-Muhajir”, whose nom de guerre suggests that he hails from the Arab world, but his origin is still unknown.
While many believe that he was a leader in al-Qaeda or a former member of the Haqqani network, which is currently one of the most powerful factions, and the most threatening to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In addition, according to United Nations estimates, it contains between 500 and a few thousand fighters in northern and eastern Afghanistan, including sleeper cells in Kabul