Security

'We were killing our brothers': ISIS, Taliban members regret taking up arms

By Khalid Zerai

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Taliban and ISIS fighters and commanders are seen January 11 in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, as they surrendered their weapons to local authorities. [Nangarhar provincial media office/Facebook]

JALALABAD -- A group of Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters and commanders on Monday (January 11) laid down their weapons and surrendered to Afghan forces, stating regret for their past actions.

The 30 militants, who had engaged in fighting in various districts of Nangarhar, gave themselves up to National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces, said Nangarhar Province Governor Ziaulhaq Amarkhail.

"These fighters, 22 Taliban and eight ISIS fighters, had taken up arms against the government," he said. "But as they have now realised that their war was against the country's saviours and citizens, they left the battleground and joined the government."

"The government embraces and welcomes all those who renounce violence," he said.

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ISIS members are seen January 10 in Asadabad, Kunar Province, before surrendering to Afghan authorities. [Kunar provincial media office/Facebook]

"Both the Taliban and ISIS have been defeated [in the province]," Amarkhail said. "People can travel to almost all the districts. As peace talks are under way, we call on the fighters to quit fighting and make peace."

Regrets for past actions

Each of the ex-insurgents brought weapons to the surrender ceremony, and some described how they had been tricked into joining the extremist groups, who preyed on their lack of education.

"We were deceived," said Muhammad Farooq, one of the Taliban members who surrendered to the Afghan forces. "We were killing our brothers."

"We were told in our training that those working with the government were all infidels and that we had to do 'jihad' against them," he said.

"But when we understood that it was not true, as everyone is Muslim and we fought against our own brothers, we left the battleground," he said. "We do not want to fight any longer, and we want to live in peace."

"I commanded a unit of 10 fighters in Khogyani District," Farooq said. "I have told other friends as well to quit fighting, because we cannot build this country with such conflicts."

"I regret my past acts, and I will never again fall prey to anyone's tricks," he said. "I will not take a weapon to kill my Afghan brother."

ISIS member Gul Faqir also laid down arms, claiming the extremist group had exploited his lack of education to recruit him into its ranks.

"I was previously a Taliban fighter and then joined ISIS," he said, adding that the group paid him "a lot of money" to fight in its ranks.

"I was illiterate, and they misused my ignorance," he said. "I realise now that I killed my brothers and fought against them."

"Now that I know that it was not a war for Islam, I returned and joined the government," he said.

"I want to live in peace," Faqir added. "My five children remained illiterate, as I thought that secular education was illegitimate. I realise now that I have to send my children back to school."

"I would like to return to a normal life so that my children are not deprived of education, as I do not want them to fall prey to others as I did."

10 surrender in Kunar

Separately, Kunar Province officials on January 10 presented to the media 10 ISIS and five Taliban members who surrendered to government forces.

Two of the group are commanders "who were involved in destructive activities in Chawki, Watapur and Manogai districts", Kunar Governor Mohammad Iqbal Saeed said during the ceremony.

"They surrendered themselves to the NDS, and they each brought one weapon with them," he said.

"ISIS has been defeated in Kunar, and the Taliban do not have the ability to fight face to face," Saeed said. "Our security forces are busy protecting the public and destroying militants."

Mahtabuddin, the former commander of a 10-man ISIS unit, said he had been fighting the government for 11 years.

"I was with the Taliban before, but I switched to ISIS two years ago," he said. "I have now realised that both ISIS and the Taliban come from the same source and that they kill civilians."

"I am glad that we abandoned them and renounced violence," he said. "I want to live in peace after this, and my friends want the same."

"I will not carry a weapon anymore, and I want to live freely with my children," Mahtabuddin said. "I will make my prayers and repent to God to forgive my sins, as I fought many years against my own people."

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They did a good thing. Other men of ISIS and Taliban should also come and lay down their arms and take part in the construction of their own country, because it has been forty years since the fire of war broke out in this country and different types of weapons have been used in this country, and a lot of people were martyred, wounded and crippled. Now it is the time that all Afghans should join hands together in order to save their country from the poverty.

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These donkeys have realized now that they were killing their own brothers. Were you donkeys and did you not know that those who live in Afghanistan are Muslims and they are your compatriots and compatriots are your brothers? These words are stupid. They tell lies that they regret it. In fact, they came under pressure and they know that if they do not surrender, they will be destroyed by the brave Afghan forces. Therefore, they have to surrender to the government and in order to please the government and the people, they say that they regret. Death to stupid people.

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Donkey is better than these people. Donkey does not harm anyone, but they shed the blood of Muslims every day. If I was in the place of government, I would have punished them all for their actions.

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