KABUL -- Thirteen former members of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) previously active in Jawzjan Province say they have left the group because of its oppression of and brutality toward the Afghan people.
In a ceremony held at Jawzjan provincial police headquarters January 25, the former insurgents surrendered their weapons to local officials and pledged to join the peace process.
"A 13-member group of ISIS that was fighting against government forces in Darzab and Qush Tepa districts of Jawzjan Province left ISIS and joined the peace process as they realised the legitimacy of the Islamic government of Afghanistan," Jawzjan Governor Lutfullah Azizi told Salaam Times. "They brought along 13 weapons, including 11 Kalashnikovs, a PK machine gun and a rocket launcher."
"ISIS militants have caused the greatest losses to the residents of Darzab and Qush Tepa districts, where thousands of Jawzjan residents' children were deprived of an education by ISIS militants who forced their schools to close," he said.
"Terrorists who fight both the government and the people should realise that the Afghan government is determined to destroy them," Azizi said. "Hence, it would be better for them to quit fighting and to join the peace process."
Choosing rebuilding over destruction
Mohammad Ebrahim, the former commander of the group, told Salaam Times how they joined ISIS and why they have now abandoned the terrorist group.
"We were members of the Taliban for many years," he said. "After our general commander joined ISIS three years ago, we followed suit and fought against government forces in Darzab and Qush Tepa districts."
"Each and every act of ISIS was completely detrimental to the interests of our country and of our people," Ebrahim said. "ISIS's oppression of and cruelty to residents of Darzab and Qush Tepa districts made us leave this group and join the government forces."
"We are ready to fight alongside our security forces against ISIS in order to defend our homeland and our people, if the government wants us to do so," he said.
"ISIS militants have always been working to benefit themselves at the expense of our homeland, by harassing and abusing the population," said Mullah Khoda Rahim, another former ISIS member who joined the peace process. "That was why I joined the peace process."
"We fought for many years, and yet we witnessed nothing but destruction and murder," he said. "We urge those who fight the government to stop war and violence and also to participate in rebuilding the country."
A positive impact on security
"Upon realising the legitimacy of the government, five insurgent groups including ISIS and Taliban militants, have joined the peace process over the past two months, and we have welcomed them," Gen. Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani, the provincial police chief, said during the January 25 ceremony.
"As for those who lay down their weapons, stop fighting and return to normal life, the government protects them and provides them with suitable jobs so that they can advance their lives," he said.
"Almost 40 ISIS members [in Jawzjan] have stopped fighting and have joined the peace process during the course of the current solar [Hijri] year," Mawlawi Mohammad Akram, chairman of the Jawzjan Province Peace Council, told Salaam Times.
"The joining of these ISIS militants [with the peace process] benefits the security and stability of Jawzjan, and I call on other insurgents who are fighting the government to choose the path of peace -- which is also the path of Islam and humanity," he said.