ISIS-Ok is attempting to undermine Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. That is America’s drawback, too.

In late September, Afghanistan‘s new Taliban leaders ordered their commanders to conduct a full background test on all fighters. The sudden transfer was prompted by issues that different extremist teams have infiltrated the Taliban’s ranks.

Senior members of the previous Afghan authorities and one high Taliban official presently in a safety position say the chief of ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-Ok), a infamous terror operative whose identification has remained shrouded in thriller for years, is believed to be among the many infiltrators. The officers spoke to Newsplaneta Information on the situation of anonymity.

Some Taliban foot troopers are believed to have deserted the group to hitch ISIS-Ok or al Qaeda, preferring an much more excessive — and brutal — interpretation of Islam, however these sources say the ISIS faction is working intentionally to undermine the Taliban’s authority from each inside and out of doors the group. That carries dangers not just for Afghanistan, however for the US and its allies.

Since forming in 2015, ISIS-Ok has carried out among the deadliest assaults in Afghanistan. It wasn’t instantly clear if the group was behind a devastating bombing on Friday that hit a mosque in Kunduz, reportedly leaving no less than 100 individuals useless. However ISIS-Ok has an extended historical past of attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslim minority, and it was Shiites focused in Friday’s blast. 

4 of the group’s high commanders have been killed by U.S. drones or Afghan safety forces over the next 4 years. (ISIS-Ok can also be identified by different acronyms, together with ISKP.)

In June 2020, the highest job went to a militant generally known as Shahab al-Muhajir. Most assumed from his title that he was of Arab, not Afghan descent. Two former high-ranking Afghan authorities safety officers and the senior member of the present Taliban regime have informed Newsplaneta Information, nonetheless, that he’s a veteran of Afghanistan’s home insurgency, and that his actual title is Sanaullah. (Afghans typically use just one title.) 

They are saying he is a graduate of the Kabul Polytechnic Institute who, in accordance with a voter registration card discovered by Afghan safety forces, is 31 years previous. The previous Afghan officers say the person now generally known as al-Muhajir obtained coaching in Pakistan from two completely different extremist teams primarily based there, together with the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani community.

An Afghan authorities identification card, discovered and supplied to Newsplaneta Information by former Afghan intelligence officers, exhibits a person named Sanaullah, who’s believed to be the chief of ISIS-Ok identified generally as Shahab al-Muhajir.  


“No matter his ethnicity, he has ended up being a lot better positioned than his predecessors to revive ISKP,” Ex-Trac, a corporation that analyzes threats posed by extremist teams, wrote in an August evaluation. “His taking the reins of energy in mid-2020 culminated in radical change for the group, change that has seen it transitioning from a fragmented and degraded community into the aggressive phalanx it’s at the moment.”

Whereas different ISIS-Ok commanders have centered on seizing territory, the previous Afghan officers say al-Muhajir is a part of a extra strategic cadre that goals to undermine Afghanistan’s management to realize freedom to function. 

The previous Afghan safety officers say al-Muhajir has managed to maintain hiding his actual identification and proceed working as a Taliban imposter. One of many former Afghan authorities safety sources stated al-Muhajir had even managed to carry a gathering with Taliban deputy head of intelligence Mullah Tajmir Jawad, with out the official realizing he was speaking to the ISIS-Ok chief.

What we learn about ISIS-Ok


A former senior Afghan intelligence officer tells Newsplaneta Information that about one yr in the past, “after numerous exhausting work,” the nation’s safety forces managed to find al-Muhajir, however the ISIS-Ok chief escaped seize. All they discovered was his nationwide ID card — together with his actual title on it — and one other ID figuring out him as a member of the Afghan military.

The opposite former Afghan safety official says captured ISIS-Ok militants would typically inform interrogators they’d met al-Muhajir, however “after we confirmed them photographs to determine al-Muhajir, they used to level the finger on the unsuitable individual, which means even individuals inside ISKP have been assembly an imposter, not the actual boss.”

“ISKP’s chief Shahab proper now could be working inside Taliban ranks, however the Taliban do not know him,” the previous intelligence official informed Newsplaneta Information. “ISKP in Afghanistan is a stay bomb roaming free inside the Taliban.”

A photograph supplied to Newsplaneta Information by a former senior member of the Afghan authorities’s nationwide safety group exhibits an Afghan nationwide voter ID card figuring out an Afghan nationwide named Sanullah, with a birthdate in 1990, who’s believed to be the chief of ISIS-Ok identified broadly as Shahab al-Mujahir.


A senior Taliban official informed Newsplaneta Information on Wednesday that the brand new Afghan regime does have the earlier authorities’s safety recordsdata on al-Muhajir, however they have not but tracked him down.

The opposite former Afghan official informed Newsplaneta Information that ISIS-Ok is splitting its efforts, with “a few of them overtly opposing the Taliban, whereas a few of them stay inside the Taliban for their very own pursuits, like enemies staying within the enemy’s home and in search of a possibility, 24/7.” 

Taliban denial

Saeed Khosty, spokesman for the Taliban regime’s Inside Ministry, informed Newsplaneta Information on Thursday that it was “not true” that al-Muhajir was working inside his group.

Khosty insisted that ISIS-Ok was “not as a lot of a menace” in Afghanistan as stories counsel, and he stated media shops have been ignoring the Taliban’s claims to have “pushed out” ISIS-Ok fighters from strongholds east of Kabul.

“Speaking about ISIS threats in Afghanistan is sort of a propaganda for ISIS,” Khosty protested. “That is making individuals confused, however the stage and expertise of the ISIS-Ok menace usually are not at that top stage.”

“Room to breathe” 

Each the Trump and Biden administrations, in defending their selections to withdraw from Afghanistan, vowed to carry the Taliban to its promise to stop different teams, particularly al Qaeda and ISIS, from utilizing Afghan soil to plot assaults in opposition to America and its allies.

However surging violence by ISIS-Ok, and the group’s alleged infiltration of the Taliban regime, might complicate the brand new leaders’ capability to ship. 

Afghan males carry the useless physique of a sufferer to an ambulance after a bomb assault at a mosque in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, October 8, 2021.

AFP through Getty

“The extra stress ISKP exerts on the Taliban, the more durable it is going to be for its nascent authorities to take care of centrifugal power. A fragmented Taliban wrought aside by in-fighting and distrusted by the communities over which it guidelines would give ISKP room to breathe,” Ex-Trac warned in its late-August report.

Whereas enjoying down the ISIS-Ok menace, the Taliban additionally appears to be taking it very critically, claiming a sequence of raids concentrating on the group in latest days, and vowing extra to return. An inside communique from the Taliban regime’s Intelligence Fee, seen on Wednesday by Newsplaneta Information, lays out plans to focus on two districts east of Kabul believed to be ISIS-Ok strongholds. The Taliban safety officers say within the doc that the areas have to be “utterly cleared” of ISIS-Ok fighters.

The menace to extend operations comes amid stories that the Taliban is indiscriminately killing males from areas they consider to be saturated with ISIS-Ok supporters. The Taliban has claimed that raids in latest weeks have killed ISIS-Ok fighters, and it insists the Afghan individuals don’t help the ISIS affiliate. However locals have reported that solely civilians have been killed in among the Taliban raids, and at checkpoints on main roads out of those areas.

Ex-Trac stated ISIS-Ok — which the just lately ousted authorities estimated to have between 2,000 and three,000 fighters — went quiet for a pair weeks because the Taliban reasserted management over the nation in late August. The notable exception was the devastating Kabul airport bombing that killed 13 American troops and 170 Afghans.

Lethal assaults in Kabul kill greater than 100 pe…


On September 18, ISIS-Ok absolutely resumed operations, in accordance with Ex-Trac, with 22 assaults in simply 11 days that primarily focused the Taliban and civilians. 

The violence “proves the claims unsuitable that the Taliban’s navy ascendency has ended the warfare in Afghanistan,” former Pakistani lawmaker Afrasiab Khattak, who based the cross-border Afghanistan Pakistan Peoples Friendship Affiliation, informed Newsplaneta Information.

There are new assaults in Afghanistan blamed on ISIS-Ok virtually day-after-day. One of the latest was a suicide bombing concentrating on a Kabul mosque on Sunday. ISIS claimed duty for the assault, which left no less than 5 civilians useless. Because it typically does, the group exaggerated the scope of the strike, claiming to have killed “dozens within the ranks of the Taliban.”

“Aspirations to assault the US”

The U.S. has focused ISIS-Ok with airstrikes since pulling its forces out of Afghanistan in August.

Early this month Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin stated the U.S. navy would, “stay centered on ISIS-Ok,” to the extent attainable post-withdrawal. He vowed that at “the time of our selecting, sooner or later, we’ll maintain them accountable for what they’ve performed,” referring to the Kabul airport bombing. 

Joint Chiefs of Employees Chairman Normal Mark Milley, throughout Congressional testimony, stated it was “attainable” the U.S. would cooperate with the Taliban in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later to handle the ISIS-Ok menace.

“A reconstituted al Qaeda or ISIS, with aspirations to assault the US, is a really actual chance,” Milley stated. He estimated that ISIS-Ok would want between six months and several other years for “reconstitution.”

Pentagon leaders testify on Afghanistan


He acknowledged that the mission to counter ISIS-Ok and different teams could be “a lot more durable now. However not unattainable.”

U.S. Central Command Commander Normal Kenneth McKenzie was requested if he was assured that the U.S. navy might deny ISIS-Ok and different teams the power to stage assaults from Afghan soil.

“I believe that is but to be seen,” stated the overall. “I don’t but have that stage of confidence.”

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