| Terrorism

ISIL Khorasan branch self-destructing in Afghanistan

By Najibullah


A member of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) fires a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) militants in Kot District, Nangarhar Province, February 16. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

A member of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) fires a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) militants in Kot District, Nangarhar Province, February 16. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

KABUL -- The "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) Khorasan branch is crumbling in Afghanistan because of its own lies and heinous behaviour, according to Afghan officials and analysts.

ISIL's actions, which are contrary to Islamic principles and Afghan culture, and its initial deceit of the Afghan people, led to the group's destruction before it could even establish a base for itself, they say.

Those atrocities have included slaughtering worshipers at prayer, bombing mosques, killing women and children and burning down civilians' houses , Salaam Times reported previously.

" ISIL tried to turn Nangarhar Province into its main base for deploying its members to other provinces," Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, told Salaam Times.

"Before ISIL was able to expand its activities, however, it became the target of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces [ANDSF], as a result of which the group's activities have become limited to only three districts in Nangarhar," he said.

ISIL has sustained heavy losses during ANDSF operations and a number of its leaders and commanders have been killed.

They include Sheikh Maqbool, nom de guerre Shahidullah Shahid; Gul Zaman, former deputy leader of "Khorasan Province"; Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, another former deputy leader; and former militant commander Hafiz Saeed Khan , also known as Mullah Saeed Orakzai, who was killed July 26 in a joint military operation in Nangarhar Province.

Afghans' opposition to extremism

Under the assault of the ANDSF and with no support from the Afghan people, ISIL has no chance of survival in Afghanistan, Waziri said.

"ISIL initially started a propaganda campaign claiming that it had come to achieve 'jihad' and to expel the foreigners," he said. "Once the people witnessed their actions, which are contrary to Afghan culture, Islam and religion, they realised that ISIL was lying."

"That is why the Afghan people are fighting alongside their security forces in Nangarhar against ISIL," he said.

ISIL's Khorasan branch has failed to take root in Afghanistan because the Afghan people oppose radicalism and extremism, Kabul University law professor Farouq Bashar told Salaam Times.

"Afghans are moderate Muslims, and radical ideas are unacceptable to them," he said.

ISIL's spurned extremist views "are the main reason for the failure of the ISIL group's Khorasan branch in Afghanistan," he said.

In some instances ISIL even clashed with the Taliban, showing the desperation of both extremist groups in the face of hostility and casualties, he said.

ISIL's initial deceit

"People were fed up with the Taliban and thought there was a chance that ISIL would behave better," said Ubaidullah Momand, 37, a farmer from Nangarhar Province.

"Pretty soon, it became clear that ISIL knew nothing about humanity or Islam," he told Salaam Times.

ISIL members showed no mercy toward children, women or elders, Momand said, adding that ISIL's abuse of women is intolerable and violates the rules of Afghan culture.

"ISIL was able to initially fool the people," said Aimal Khan, a Kabul University engineering student originally from Helmand Province.

"Once they [the people] witnessed the terror and oppression by the members of this group, they unanimously rose up to support the Afghan security forces against these terrorists," he told Salaam Times.

Now, civilians are fighting ISIL alongside the ANDSF because "they know that the only path to permanent peace and tranquility is through supporting the government and the armed forces", Aymal said.

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