UN: ISIL gaining ground in Afghanistan

Armed group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has been trying to establish itself in Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their own turf

UN: ISIL gaining ground in Afghanistan

World Bulletin / News Desk

The ISIL group is making inroads in Afghanistan, winning over a growing number of sympathizers and recruiting followers in 25 of the country's 34 provinces, a UN report said Friday.

The armed group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, has been trying to establish itself in Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their own turf.

Afghan security forces told UN sanctions monitors that about 10 percent of the Taliban insurgency are ISIL sympathizers, according to the report by the UN's Al-Qaeda monitoring team.

"The number of groups and individuals who are openly declaring either loyalty to or sympathy with ISIL continues to grow in a number of provinces in Afghanistan," said the report.

Afghan government sources said "sightings of the groups with some form of ISIL branding" or sympathy were reported in 25 provinces in the war-torn country, it added.

The ISIL-backed groups "regularly engage" Afghan military forces, but fighting with other parts of the insurgency are rare, except in Nangarhar province where they are battling the Taliban for control of the drug trade.

Among the prominent ISIL fighters, the report singled out Abdul Rauf Khadem, a former Taliban adviser to Mullah Omar, who visited Iraq in October 2014 and has since formed his own group in Helmand and Farah provinces.

Khadem allegedly has been recruiting followers by paying out large sums of money.

Foreign fighters from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, some of whom have close ties to Al-Qaeda, have come under the ISIL banner after fleeing their country and have "rebranded themselves" in recent months, the report said.

Up to 70 ISIL fighters have come from Iraq and Syria and now form the core of theirf branch in Afghanistan, according to the report. 

Afghan security authorities do not consider the growing emergence of ISIL as an "immediate increased threat" but they are keeping an eye on the situation as a "potential new threat", it added.

The UN monitoring team said ISIL had improved its propaganda in English in a sign of increased competition with the Taliban.

The Taliban, who have themselves often been accused of savagery during their 14-year insurgency, are seeking to appear as a bulwark against ISIL's brutality.

Earlier this month the Taliban condemned a "horrific" video that apparently showed ISIL fighters blowing up bound and blindfolded Afghan prisoners with explosives.

Last Mod: 26 Eylül 2015, 09:41
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