Certain death awaits 'Islamic State' militants migrating to Afghanistan
KABUL -- Terrorists heeding the call of the "Islamic State" (IS) to come to Afghanistan should think twice about making such a move, Afghan officials and analysts say.
IS's Khorasan branch released a 25-minute video March 4 promoting purported IS strongholds in northern and eastern Afghanistan "as an option for immigration" for militants unable to reach Iraq or Syria, the SITE Intelligence Group said March 6.
"O you Muslims in every corner of the world! Immigrate to Khorasan! If you are incapable of immigrating to Iraq and Sham [Syria], come to Khorasan," a militant said in the video, referring to a historic region that includes parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighbouring countries.
The video, with messages in Pashtu, Persian and Uzbek, showcased the terrorist group's brutality, including the training of child soldiers and the execution of prisoners.
IS on verge of collapse
Militants coming to Afghanistan on behalf of IS will find only death as the terrorist group is on the verge of collapse, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
"All of IS's plans in Afghanistan have failed and this group has been defeated," Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a Defence Ministry spokesman, told Salaam Times. "The Khorasan branch of IS has lost a vast majority of its members, weapons and combat capabilities both in eastern and southern zones."
"During the past two years almost 3,500 IS fighters were killed, more than 1,000 of them were wounded and more than 500 others were captured," he said.
IS terrorists "must know that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for them and if they head either north or east [in Afghanistan], they will be destroyed by civilians and security forces", Waziri said.
"IS militants have lost all their bases in Nangarhar Province, which was once their headquarters. Just two years ago they had 4,000 members in the east of the country, but now they do not even have 400 left," he said.
"Air and ground operations are under way to destroy the remaining IS [fighters] in remote parts of Nangarhar," he added.
An unacceptable terrorist group
The main reason for IS's defeat in Afghanistan has been the resistance of the general public and its co-operation with security forces.
"IS came to Afghanistan with the claim of [establishing an] 'Islamic caliphate', attempting to take advantage of the name of Islam and Afghan Muslims to turn Afghanistan into its headquarters after losing in Iraq and Syria," Daoud Rawash, a Kabul University professor, told Salaam Times.
"Its ideology and actions, however, were in conflict with Afghan ideology and culture. The 'Islamic caliphate' was merely a slogan, far from the truth," he said.
"Afghans realised that the main goal of followers of the self-proclaimed 'Islamic caliphate' was to promote religious extremism and terrorist activities, not moderate Islam," he said. "For this reason, Afghans rejected IS and their 'caliphate' and began to fight them."
"Atrocities committed in Syria and Iraq by IS have been witnessed around the world, especially by Afghans, who for years have been fighting terrorism," Rawash said. "The presence of such a group never has been and never will be acceptable for the Afghan community."
"Therefore, IS cannot choose Afghan territory for its headquarters," he said, adding that Afghans will "react negatively" to any terrorist organisation led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "as they have done so over the past two or three years".
IS finds no ally in the Taliban
Even the Taliban doesn't tolerate IS's attempted incursion into Afghanistan.
Over the past two months, IS and Taliban members have clashed in Laghman Province, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries on both sides, according to local officials, and enabling Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to launch operations to eliminate both.
Late last year IS and the Taliban fought over territory in Nangarhar Province and in November the two groups declared "jihad" against each other after "serious and deep conflicts" in Jawzjan and Nangarhar provinces, local officials told Salaam Times.
Last May, officials told Salaam Times that IS and Taliban militants were locked in combat throughout Afghanistan, vying for the ability to extort and plunder the civilian population.
Resisting IS oppression
During the two years IS was present in Nangarhar, "it committed numerous atrocities and crimes," said Zabihullah Zemarai, a member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council.
"It burned down houses, abducted women, assassinated tribal elders and religious scholars, and shut down schools and health centres," he told Salaam Times.
"It tried its best to make residents pledge their allegiance to it," he said. "All this, however, had [the opposite] result."
"The population of Nangarhar refused to join IS and stood with its security forces," Zemarai said. "It fought IS."
"Not only did Nangarhar residents not allow IS to establish a foothold in the province, they are struggling alongside the security forces to crack down on the remaining IS members," he said. "Residents of Nangarhar have played a major role in defeating this terrorist group."
"Throughout the country's history, the Afghan people have never pledged allegiance to any foreign leader," he said. "Therefore, they not only refuse to pledge allegiance to the IS terror group, they also consider joining this group contrary to their religion and culture."
"IS terrorists should not come here, because all their leaders as well as the majority of militants of their Khorasan branch have been buried under Afghanistan's soil," Zemarai said.