ISIS: an Invisible Monster in Afghanistan


The recent suicide attack in Jalalabad city, in eastern Afghanistan, which has more than one hundred casualties and it was very heinous and horrific. Initially, Taliban were taken as responsible for the attack, when they refused, later on another group calling itself Khurrasan connected with the Islamic State group which is commonly known as Daesh or ISIS in Afghanistan claimed the responsibility of this barbaric attack through a newly created Facebook account.

It was the first attack whose responsibility was apparently taken by ISIS in Afghanistan. But the question arises, is ISIS able to the extent to conduct such a destructive attack in Afghanistan? Does Islamic State group under the leadership of Abobaker Al-Baghdadi have any connection with this group who took the responsibility? If it is so, then who are the commanders of ISIS in Afghanistan and why their names have not been broadcasted yet?


Ambiguities Regarding ISIS Activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan

For the first time the rumors regarding ISIS presence came from Waziristan, the tribal area of Pakistan where Al-Qaeda linked fighters enjoy sanctuaries. In that time, Shahidullah Sahid, spokesman of TTP (Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and Abdul Rahim Mulsimdost (an Afghan previous detainee of Guantanamo bay) pledged their allegiance to ISIS. Mulsimdost’s allegiance was published in ISIS’s official web site as well. Shahidullah Shahid was rejected earlier by TTP for the accusation of being close to ISI, the intelligence agency of Pakistan, and Muslimdost has never been a member of Afghan Taliban movement.

It was very expected that ISIS will pick one of the aforesaid persons as the leader of ISIS in Khurrasan region, but unexpectedly, Hafiz Saeed Khan from tribal Orakzai agency of Pakistan was selected as the Ameer (Leader) and Abdul Rauf Khadim, member of Taliban military commission as his deputy. Khadim was killed in a US drone assault in Kajaki of Helmand in Feb 9, 2015. ISIS has not appointed his successor yet. Since then, there is no authentic information regarding the whereabouts of Saeed Khan and Shahid. There are some rumors revealing Muslimdost went to Syria.


Afghan Government and ISIS

In the mid-2014, several reports have been published regarding ISIS presence in Afghanistan. Most of the reports were regarding Ajristan district of Ghazni province. But the then ISAF commander General John F. Campbell expressed in 12 October 2014 that there is no authentic information which can prove ISIS presence in the country.

But sharp before the Munich security conference on 5th February 2015 reports were published in the Afghan media. The publications of such reports were very explicitly connected with the agenda of mentioned conference, where the challenges of ISIS in the world were to be discussed. In order to attract more aids to Afghanistan and long-term US presence in the country, President Ghani needed such atmosphere.

Before that, a container full of American weapons was captured by the local security officials in ShahJoy district of Zabul province and it was said that the container was sent to ISIS fighters. The efforts of high level governmental officials to release the container were also reported. Even then, it was not followed and the personals who tried to release the container were not pointed out.

The kidnap of 31 passengers in Herat-Kabul high way was also linked to ISIS in Afghanistan. Another person was arrested who confessed of being ISIS spokesperson had close ties with Ghazni province governor. And recently, Paktika governor accused the National Security Council of aided more than $200 million to the families of ISIS members. The discloser of such an issue by high level government governor cannot be without authentic document.

After the deadly attack of Nangarhar province people are concerned regarding presence of ISIS in Afghanistan. Even in President Ghani’s visit to Tehran, the issue of ISIS was one of the tope issues that were discussed.


Was ISIS responsible for Jalalabad Attack?

Regarding the responsibility of the attack, when there is no officially announced delegation of ISIS in Afghanistan, neither any web site related to ISIS took the responsibility for it, how it can be related to ISIS? The attack happened and a newly created account in Facebook by the name of Shahidullah Shahid took the responsibility of it. Later on, most of the local media reported it as ISIS’s first attack in Afghanistan. President Ghani also linked it to ISIS.

Keeping in view the situation of Afghanistan, it is very likely to buy a suicide attacker and even it is possible to take him into very safe area and conduct explosion. Doing so is as likely by ISIS as by a foreign intelligent agency. From the other side, Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, an Afghan from Nangarhar province, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, have refused any responsibility. Refusal of the attack by Muslimdost and acceptance of the responsibility by an unknown Facebook account makes the possibility more likely that the attack might have been done by intelligence agencies.

The biggest group announces its connection to ISIS in Afghanistan is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The group is composed of fighters from central Asian countries, Uyghur Muslims and Qafqaz led by Osman Ghazi. Earlier, they were close to Taliban, but when they put their international agenda aside, IMU parted its way with them. The group pledged it’s allegiance to ISIS after, apparently, the long disappearance of Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The IMU has conducted complex attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, i.e. the assassinations of General Daud Daud in Takhar and of Ahmad Khan Samangani in Samangan, attack on Peshawar airport and also involved in many other deadly attacks in the region. In Jalalabad attack the group can also be taken as responsible.



The Afghan Officials are of the belief that ISIS in Afghanistan is the previous Taliban with changing their flag from white to black, but they have never named any Taliban commander allied with ISIS. The local officials in Helmand claimed that ISIS is recruiting people in this province. They have even alleged the armed clash between ISIS and Taliban fighters which were refused by Taliban by saying there were no other group members in those area except Taliban.

Some people predicted before an alliance between Taliban and ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. But when Abobaker Albaghdadi commented on Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of Taliban and termed his leadership era as expired, the possibility was practically became impossible.

Apart from the distinct interpretations of the two groups regarding the Sharia, keeping in view the experience that neither ISIS nor Taliban can tolerate another group in their operational zone, so if ISIS wants to come to Afghanistan, it would be faced the opposition which Nasrah Front faced by ISIS in Syria. Therefore, some analysts put forward the possibility that the Afghan and Pakistani officials may have reached to agreement to defeat Taliban in two countries by a more powerful enemy. From American perspective, ISIS may be able to create threat for China, Iran, Central Asia and Russia, but like the past, Afghanistan and Pakistan will face more lose.

From the other side, propaganda of Afghan government and Americans for the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan has emerged some questions. Broadcasting a video clip by CNN alleging the fighters belong to ISIS in the outskirts of Kabul being trained. The question arises, how the top American TV channel had access to the clip?

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