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Afghan spies and soldiers turn to ISIS after US exit: Reports

Published: Updated:

A growing number of US-trained Afghan soldiers and intelligence officials are joining ISIS to fight the Taliban, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The US spent billions arming and training Afghanistan’s military before their dramatic exit from the country, which allowed the Taliban to seize control of the Afghan capital.

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Many of Afghanistan’s military are now being hunted by the terror group and in turn are now joining ISIS – the only outfit currently resisting Taliban rule – according to an investigation by the WSJ, who said the number of defectors is “relatively small, but growing.”

The news outlet gave the example of an Afghan national army officer who commanded the military’s weapons and ammunition depot in Gardez, the capital of southeastern Paktia province, who joined ISIS-K, and was killed a week ago in a clash with Taliban fighters, according to a former Afghan official who knew him.

The former official told the WSJ that several other men he knew, all members of the former Afghan republic’s intelligence and military, also joined ISIS after the Taliban raided their homes.

The former officials said that a resident of Qarabagh district just north of Kabul said his cousin, a former senior member of Afghanistan’s special forces, disappeared in September and was now part of an ISIS cell. Four other members of the Afghan national army that the man knew have enlisted in ISIS-K, in recent weeks, he said.

“In some areas, ISIS has become very attractive” to former members of Afghan security and defense forces “who have been left behind,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, a former head of Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security, who left the country shortly before the Taliban takeover. “If there were a resistance, they would have joined the resistance.”

But he said: “For the time being, ISIS is the only other armed group.”

The organization cited Taliban leaders, former Afghan republic security officials and people who know the defectors.

ISIS’ Afghan offshoot, ISIS-K, is eagerly absorbing these US-trained recruits, the WSJ has reported, given their vast expertise in intelligence-gathering and warfare techniques, potentially strengthening the extremist organization’s ability to contest the Taliban rule.

Both the Taliban and ISIS advocate rule by their radical interpretations of Islamic law. But there are key ideological differences that fuel their hatred of each other.

The Taliban say they are creating an Islamic state in Afghanistan, within the borders of that country. In contrary, ISIS-K aim to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

Both the Taliban and ISIS advocate particularly harsh versions of Islamic Sharia law and have used tactics like suicide. bombers.

But when it ruled territory in Syria and Iraq, ISIS was even more brutal and carried out more horrific punishments than the Taliban did, the Associated Press reports.


The Taliban have battled with ISIS-K since its emergence in Afghanistan in 2014.

ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for many recent attacks in Afghanistan, including a suicide bombing among worshippers in October in a Shia mosque in Kunduz province that killed around 100 people.

The WSJ said hundreds of thousands of former Afghan republic intelligence officers, soldiers and police personnel are “unemployed and afraid for their lives despite pledges of amnesty from the Taliban.”

Last week, senior Pentagon officials said terrorist groups al-Qaeda and ISIS-K could develop the capability to attack the US within months, echoing similar statements made by American officials and generals last month.

“The intelligence community currently assesses that both ISIS-K and al-Qaeda have the intent to conduct external operations, including against the US,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said.

Read more:

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