The Daesh militant group is looking to expand its reach in Afghanistan’s north and east and has increased its recruitment activities in the country to stage an attack on the US and the western countries, The Associated Press reported, quoting some Afghan and American officials.
A US intelligence official based in Afghanistan said as quoted by The Associated Press that a recent wave of attacks in the capital, Kabul, is “practice runs” for even bigger attacks in Europe and the United States.
“The bad news is their acquisition of key terrain, height concealment, where they can have easy access to money, weapons, equipment . . .and from where they can plan, train, stage, facilitate and expedite attacks,” said the US intelligence official. “I think expansion of territory in eastern Afghanistan is their number one military objective,” with the goal of eventually encircling Jalalabad, he told Associated Press.
“This group is the most near-term threat to our homelands from Afghanistan,” the official said on condition of anonymity to preserve his operational security. “The IS core mandate is: You will conduct external attacks” in the US and Europe. “That is their goal. It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “It is very scary.”
“Daesh has not been eliminated. Daesh has expanded. The group is trying to supply itself and move towards other districts,” said Ajmal Omar, a member of Nangarhar provincial council in eastern Afghanistan where Daesh’s footprint initially surfaced.
Reports say that Daesh outfits are currently operating in the eastern province of Nangarhar and Kunar and the group occasionally engage in armed encounters with the Afghan security forces and the Taliban offshoots. However, the battles between Daesh and Taliban have displaced thousands in the east.
“Right now in Kunar, the right side of the road is captured by the Taliban, the left side is controlled by Daesh and the government is in the middle,” said Farmanullah Shirzad, a resident of Kunar, who is displaced now due to conflicts.
“When they began operating in Afghanistan, they were maybe 150 Daesh members, but today, there are thousands and thousands,” he said.
“Daesh has brought nothing for Afghanistan except destruction. We in the system of Afghanistan will prevent the activities of this group,” said Safiullah Amarkhel, Nangarhar police commander.
Based on the statistics of Afghan security agencies, hundreds of Daesh fighters have been killed as a result of special operations and air strikes over the past two years.
But there are serious concerns that recruitment among Chechen, Uzbek, Bangladesh, Indian and Chinese nationals could further empower Daesh’s war machine.
“Daesh has announced its presence in Qosh Tapa of Jawzjan and some of its fighters have gone there from Faryab. Those who are alongside Daesh in these areas said to be with Daesh mastermind Aminuddin who is present in Dasht-e-Archi of Kunduz. The threat is serious,” Faryab governor Naqibullah Fayiq said.