KABUL -- After failing to take root in Afghanistan, the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) is increasing its efforts to sow discord among the country's various ethnic groups.
In the most recent case, ISIL militants kidnapped three Hazara elders in Sar-e-Pul Province on March 16.
The militants shot the elders before decapitating them, according to Zabiullah Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor.
"Through the assassination of Hazara elders, ISIL wants to create discord among the brotherly tribes of Afghanistan, a dream that they will take to the grave," he told Salaam Times.
"The people of Afghanistan are aware of terrorists' plans and are not going to allow them to achieve their objectives," he said.
Ghazanfar, a former Taliban commander, is the ISIL commander in Sar-e-Pul, Amani said.
"This atrocious crime has caused grave sorrow for all residents of Sar-e-Pul Province regardless of their ethnic backgrounds," Haji Khair Mohammad Aymaq, a member of parliament representing Sar-e-Pul, told Salaam Times.
"Afghan ethnic groups have lived together for many years," he said, adding that ISIL will fail at causing sectarian conflicts.
Afghans unite against terrorism
"Terrorists in Afghanistan change their faces every day," said Firouz Nazari, a law student at a private university in Kabul who is originally from Sar-e-Pul.
"One day they call themselves the Taliban, and the next they change their name to ISIL," he told Salaam Times. "Regardless, they continue murdering innocents."
After suffering battlefield defeats at the hands of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), ISIL recruited a number of Taliban terrorists by paying them hefty sums, Nazari said.
"ISIL was unable to achieve any real success in Afghanistan; therefore, it has chosen the path of sowing discord among different ethnic groups," he said.
"Disguised as Pashtuns, ISIL members try to murder our fellow Hazaras in order to create dissension between the two ethnic groups, but to no avail," he said.
Ahmad Behruz, a Kabul-based security analyst, also predicted that ISIL would fail to create "reciprocal hatred in the hearts of Afghans".
"All ethnic groups in Afghanistan are victims of terrorism, and for that reason they cannot be deceived by terrorists and will not hold grudges against one another," he told Salaam Times.
He referred to the November 20 ISIL suicide attack on Baqir-ul-Uloom Mosque in Kabul, in which more than 30 people lost their lives. He also mentioned ISIL's slaying of 16 coal miners January 6 in Tala wa Barfak District, Baghlan Province.
Further, Behruz pointed to ISIL's July 23 attack on a peaceful protest in Kabul, in the midst of tens of thousands of Afghans seeking the re-routing of a power line from Turkmenistan.
The twin suicide bombing killed at least 80, according to the Afghan Ministry of Interior.
"Following that horrendous event, Afghans from all ethnic groups rushed to hospitals and donated blood for the wounded," he said.
Pressure on ISIL increases
The ANDSF have increased pressure on ISIL in recent months with the intent to expel the group from Afghan territory by next spring, according to the Defence Ministry.
"Hundreds of ISIL fighters have been killed in Afghanistan, while areas which once were controlled by this group have been recaptured and liberated," Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told Salaam Times.
"The pressure on ISIL will continue until the destruction of this terrorist group," he said, adding that Afghan civilians provide invaluable assistance to the armed forces.