High-ranking Russian officials say some 3,500 members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group are wreaking havoc in Afghanistan.
“ISIL (Daesh) emergence in Afghanistan constitutes the immediate danger. Just think about it: ISIL really appeared in Afghanistan a year ago, and there are now 3,500 people under its command plus sympathizers, who can turn into militants very quickly,” said Zamir Kabulov, the Russian special presidential envoy to Afghanistan and the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Department for Asia, at an international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on Thursday.
He added that Daesh militants’ tactics in Afghanistan mirror those being pursued by the extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya and some other African states.
“They find the most authoritative local leader, who has rivals. He is offered cooperation and assistance in eliminating the rivals. This is done. When it’s over, he himself is killed. Subsequently, the whole district, province, or a larger territory falls into ISIL’s hands. ISIL will expand the scope of its influence in a creeping way if not confronted,” Kabulov said.
Colonel General Igor Sergun, the director of the Russian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), also stated that the number of Daesh militants in Afghanistan now stands at approximately 3,500.
“Despite significant growth in the number of ISIL supporters in Afghanistan, this group’s ideology has not yet become broadly popular in the patriarchal Afghan society, where people have traditionally been fighting foreign invaders for centuries,” Sergun said.
“This is why willingness to fight for ISIL in most cases can be explained purely by financial incentives,” the GRU head said, adding, “Simultaneously, ISIL extremists have launched a propaganda campaign to discredit the ideological principles of the Taliban leaders and split their ranks. To this end, they are openly accusing the Taliban leadership of reneging on the crusade against the American invaders and instead conducting conciliatory negotiations with the Afghan government and the US administration.”
“The radical Taliban members are not inclined to share their influence and lose part of their incomes from drug trafficking, even in the interests of building a caliphate,” Sergun pointed out, adding that approximately 900 people have been killed during skirmishes between Deash Takfiris and Taliban militants since the beginning of the year.
On June 16, the Taliban militant group warned Daesh ringleader, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, against “waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan.”
Taliban asked the Daesh leader to keep his men out of Afghanistan by withdrawing his support for those elements that are recruiting young militants in Taliban strongholds.
Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity nearly 14 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.