Afghan forces arrest leader of 'Islamic State' Khorasan branch

Caravanserai and AFP


IS Khorasan leader Aslam Farooqi is seen in this video screenshot released by the National Directorate of Security (NDS). The NDS captured him last week in Kandahar Province.

KABUL -- National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces captured Aslam Farooqi, leader of the "Islamic State" (IS) in Afghanistan, during a covert operation last week.

The Afghan forces nabbed Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, along with 19 other IS fighters last week in Kandahar Province in a "complex operation", the NDS said in a statement April 4.

"Qari Zahid, also known as Maaz, IS's commander in charge for military operations, and Saifullah, also known as Abu Talha Pakistani, in charge of group's recruiting in Nangarhar Province, were among those arrested," the NDS said.

Farooqi was the mastermind behind an IS-claimed attack on a Sikh-Hindu temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people, an NDS official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP.

Known as the IS Khorasan branch (IS-K), the IS wing has been on its back foot in recent months following continued operations by Afghan and coalition forces.

In November, Afghan officials said IS-K had been defeated in Nangarhar, one of the key provinces where the group first sought to establish a stronghold in 2015.

In the years since, it has claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.

Farooqi admitted to having links with "regional intelligence agencies", the NDS said in its statement.

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