HERAT -- National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel on June 2 arrested a seven-member Taliban cell in Herat city backed by the Iranian regime, say officials.
The group was involved in a dozen terrorist attacks in Herat city, said Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali June 3.
"These terrorists were sent to Herat city by Mullah Sher Ahmad, the Taliban shadow governor of Guzara district, and Mullah Karim Shindandi, the Taliban's military chief of Shindand district, to carry out assassinations and car bombings," Qatali said.
The captured terrorist suspects were mercenaries from neighbouring countries, said Qatali without naming any specifics.
The Taliban are the elements and mercenaries serving neighbouring countries and intelligence agencies in the region, and they kill those who intend to serve Afghanistan, Qatali said.
A senior Herat official told Salaam Times on the condition of anonymity that the Taliban cell received support from the Iranian regime.
"The commander of these terrorists lives in Mashhad, Iran, and has been assigned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to attack and assassinate members of security forces and well-known individuals and to detonate bombs in the city and districts of Herat," he said.
Soldiers for Iran
Herat province shares a long border with Iran, and the Taliban move back and forth between the two countries via illegal crossings.
A Wolesi Jirga delegation that assessed Herat's security in January found that the Iranian regime provides financial and military support to 26 terrorist groups in Herat.
Tehran-backed terrorists in Herat were involved in assassinations, attacks on security forces, overrunning security posts, kidnappings and other terror activities, according to the report.
The Taliban are soldiers of the Iranian regime in Afghanistan's western region, especially in Herat, said Gen. (ret.) Mohammad Faisal Alokozai, a military analyst based in Herat city.
The Taliban are the cheapest soldiers at the service of the Iranian regime and advance Tehran's objectives in Afghanistan, he said.
All Taliban attacks in the western region are planned across the border in Khorasan and other Iranian provinces, he added.
"Iran has long-term objectives in Afghanistan," said Alokozai.
"It wants to maintain its presence in this country by using the Taliban, Fatemiyoun Division and other terrorist groups," he said, referring to an Iran-backed militia made up of Afghan mercenaries.
By increasing insecurity and assassinations, Iran is trying to cause terror and create a gap between the Afghan people and the government, he added.
War and destruction
Neighboring countries such as Iran are the main cause of war and destruction in Afghanistan, said Faisal Jamshidi, a student at Herat University.
"Iran never wants peace and development in Afghanistan," he said. "The longer the war continues in the country, the more Iran and other neighbouring countries will have a free hand to interfere."
"One of the main objectives of the Iranian government is to use the Taliban to prevent the construction of irrigation and hydro-electric dams in the country," Jamshidi said. "Therefore, it gives money and weapons to the Taliban to stop infrastructure projects and the construction of dams."
The government of Iran supports terrorists involved in killing innocent Afghans daily, he added.
Iran-backed spies and terrorists are active in many provinces of Afghanistan and are eating away like leprosy at the roots of the government and of national security, said Wali Mohammad Hussaini, a shopkeeper in Herat city.
"Although it always claims to be Afghanistan's friend, in reality, it has been a devastating enemy," he said.
Iran is a terrorist-nurturing country that stands behind conflicts in many countries in the region, including Afghanistan, he said.
"Iran has never been a good neighbor to Afghanistan and has always sought to weaken our country."
Accepting their own enslavement by Iran and by other neighbouring and regional countries, the Taliban shed innocent Afghans' blood every day, Hussaini said.
The IRGC is a terrorist organisation, well-known for conflict and murders, said Arash Basharyar, a civil society activist in Herat city.
"The Fatemiyoun Division, prepared by the IRGC to kill the inhabitants of Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, is even more dangerous than the Taliban," he said.
"If the activities of this terrorist group are not stopped, oppression by its terrorists will surpass that by the Taliban in the near future," Basharyar said.
The Iranian government has been involved in the war and destabilisation of Afghanistan for several years, and in recent years it has increased its support of the Taliban and other terrorist groups, he added.