Brutal killing of of Takhar tribal elder raises concerns about ISIS expansion

By Muhammad Qasem

This undated photo shows an intersection in Taloqan, capital of Takhar province. [Social media]

This undated photo shows an intersection in Taloqan, capital of Takhar province. [Social media]

TAKHAR -- Members of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) tortured, castrated and beheaded a tribal elder in Dasht-e-Qala district of Takhar province, sparking concern over the group's presence along Afghanistan's northern border.

Dasht-e-Qala district lies on the border with Tajikistan.

Local elder Saifullah, 53, went missing on his way home on October 17.

Nearly a week later, on Sunday (October 23), his relatives finally found his beheaded body in a desert in the district, said Mohammad Nasim, 38, a resident of Nawabad village of Dasht-e-Qala district, and a relative of the victim.

"After transferring his body to Dasht-e-Qala district, we noticed that he was first tortured and then his genitalia were removed," he said.

"Saifullah was a Salafi but cut off his ties with the Salafi movement six months ago and had no links to any group," he said. "But ISIS had killed him in a very brutal manner."

"The victim was an influential tribal elder in Dasht-e-Qala district," said Ghulam Mohammad Zewari, a resident of Dasht-e-Qala district who is now living in Kabul.

"Unidentified people engaged with the ISIS fighters on the night of October 22 in the Warta Zulum village of Dasht-e-Qala, killing three ISIS members including their commander called Farooq," he said.

"The presence of ISIS in Dasht-e-Qala district and its oppression of civilians have increased, unfortunately," he said. "If not stopped, it will only expand its activities to other provinces and even to the regional countries."

A detested group

In addition to carrying out several deadly attacks in Afghanistan since August 2021, killing and injuring hundreds of Afghans, ISIS has also targeted Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from border districts.

On April 18, ISIS's Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) published a picture and claimed that one of its members fired 10 rounds of 107mm rockets at Uzbek military positions in Termez, on the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Similarly, on May 7, ISIS fighters fired several rockets toward Tajikistan from Khwaja Ghar district.

Inside Afghanistan, ISIS attacks have been deadly and more heinous.

On April 21, ISIS detonated a bomb in a vehicle carrying Afghan army technical personnel, killing at least four people and injuring 19 others, including three students.

The same day, a bomb explosion during the afternoon prayer in the Seh Dokan mosque, one of the largest and oldest Shia mosques in the 3rd district of Mazar-e-Sharif, killed 13 worshippers and injured 40 others.

On April 22, an explosion at Mawlawi Sikandar Khanaga mosque in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz killed 33 worshippers, including men and children, and injured 43 others.

Several other small and large assaults carried out by ISIS have followed, including the bloody attack on Kaaj Educational Centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul, in which more than 150 students were killed and injured.

ISIS has spared no one, and the more civilian blood it spills, the more joy it gets, said Hashmatullah Daqiq, a junior agriculture student at Kunduz University.

"ISIS does not want Afghans to live in peace," he said. "Its objective is the destruction of Afghanistan and the killing of Afghans."

"ISIS members must be brought to justice to destroy this terrorist group and relieve innocent Afghans of its oppression and the suffering it brings upon them," he said.

ISIS's attacks have no place in Islam, said Ali Asghar Qarizada, 42, a resident of Badakhshan province.

"ISIS receives its dirty money from abroad to kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan and commit unforgivable crimes," he said, adding that ISIS massacres the innocent and that Islam does not allow harm to humanity.

Growing threat

ISIS-K has expanded its operations to several provinces and poses an increasing threat to the stability of the region, say analysts.

"ISIS is a proxy group of intelligence agencies from several countries that try to murder Afghans," said Qais Noorani, a political analyst based in Kabul.

"The international community, especially the United States, should not underestimate the ISIS threat in Afghanistan," he said.

"ISIS's objective is the destruction and killing of Afghans because it doesn't want Afghans to live in peace and calm," Noorani said.

Thousands of Afghan families mourn the loss of their loved ones due to recent ISIS attacks, said Asadullah Zakhail, a resident of Kunduz province.

"The increasing instability and unemployment in the country offer a good opportunity for ISIS to recruit Afghan youth," he warned.

"The majority of our youth have lost their jobs and are unemployed, while ISIS recruits them and pays them a monthly salary," he said.

"Afghans must mobilise to stand up to this terrorist group; otherwise, the gradual loss of everything threatens all ethnic groups in the country."

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The Taliban government is trying hard to eradicate the ISIS terrorist group. ISIS terrorist group existed in several provinces of Afghanistan. The government of the Islamic Emirate destroyed them. The ISIS terrorist group was active in the provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Faryab, and Nangarhar, but now, by the grace of Almighty God, the government of the Islamic Emirate has eradicated all these terrorist groups. Our neighboring countries do not want people to live in peace in Afghanistan and they do not want Afghanistan to be settled. Pakistan provides financial aid to ISIS in Afghanistan.


Such dramas are nothing new for Afghans. We have lost thousands of Afghan leaders in the series of such dramas. This chain of killings will continue until the Afghans come together on their own. The sooner the loss is caught, the better it will be. If we get together, we will be safe from such difficulties, but if we kill each other like in the past, I don't think we will see a good day.


Neighboring countries mostly implement war projects in Afghanistan. From time to time, new projects come up and are implemented. This game has been going on for four and a half decades, and its victims are only Afghans. Unfortunately, neither the neighbors care about the Afghans nor the world powers sympathize with Afghans. Everyone is trying to protect their interests.


Documentary findings of the BBC Persian service show that ISIS has killed more non-Hazaras than Hazaras. The number of casualties of people who died during significant attacks in Afghanistan for some time indicates that, contrary to the claims made in these attacks attributed to the ISIS group, more non-Hazaras were killed than Hazaras. The BBC Persian website has published the casualty figures of these incidents of five deaths. These figures show that 21 non-Hazaras were killed in an explosion on the Abu Bakr Siddique mosque worshipers in Kabul's Khairkhana on August 17. Similarly, on September 2nd, 17 non-Hazara Afghans, including Ansari, were killed during a suicide attack on pro-Taliban Mullah Mujibur Rahman Ansari in Gazargah Mosque in Herat. In addition, 7 other non-Hazaras were killed in an explosion near Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque in Kabul on September 23. Apart from these incidents, there was also an explosion in the mosque of the Ministry of Interior of the Taliban on October 2, in which at least two non-Hazaras were killed. Another incident, which took place on September 30 at an educational center in the Hazara-populated Dasht-e-Barchi area of ​​Kabul, killed up to 53 people. It is said that most of the victims are Hazara. This is in a situation where, for some time now, some hard-line Hazara activists living abroad and accused of ethnic hypocrisy have made claims of the genocide of Hazaras in Afghanistan, and some politicians have also criticized them. Analysts belie