It has been reported since months now that ISIS had reached out to local Afghans. The ISIS FM had gone silent ever since United States bombed it, but according to many sources on the ground, it is back again.
ISIS first emerged last year in the country’s east, gaining ground and support fast, often among disaffected Taliban or Afghan youth.
After years of war, the savagery and vision of Islam offered by the group appealed to some, though the Afghan offshoot’s link to the Syria-based leadership has been questioned. Many say in fact the Afghan ISIS fighters came from Pakistan and adopted the group’s branding in order to get financing.
For some, the group’s brutality has proven too much.
Amidst intense infighting that has afflicted the Taliban in the past year, their faction was losing out. Then along came ISIS, which offered them superior weapons and little choice but to accept.
Their leader soon pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while on a trip to Pakistan.
However, the two men — who spoke to CNN near Jalalabad city in an interview arranged by the Afghan intelligence service NDS — say they quickly realized ISIS’s true agenda wasn’t to help ordinary Afghans.
U.S. officials say a substantial amount of air power has been focused against ISIS this year, with roughly a hundred strikes on targets in the east of Afghanistan that include ISIS.
“ISIS had a fairly significant presence in six or seven districts in Nangahar, now that’s probably down to three or four, but they also seem to be growing more and more in (nearby) Kunar,” says Major General Jeff Buchanan, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
“So when they feel pressure in one place they tend to go somewhere else to operate.”