Afghans raise concerns over increasing ISIS activity in major cities

By Omar

Women walk past the site of a blast at the Sardar Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul on November 3, 2021, a day after an attack claimed by the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) killed at least 19 people. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Women walk past the site of a blast at the Sardar Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul on November 3, 2021, a day after an attack claimed by the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) killed at least 19 people. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

HERAT -- Recent military operations on the hideouts of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements in Afghan cities, including the capital Kabul, have raised serious concerns about the presence and activities of the terrorist group.

On Thursday (January 5), three ISIS members, including a key commander, were killed in a military operation in Dara-i-Nur district, Nangarhar province.

Authorities also killed at least seven militants affiliated with ISIS and arrested seven ISIS suspects during an operation carried out last Wednesday in Kabul's eighth district.

The same day, two suspected ISIS elements were arrested in Zaranj, the provincial capital of Nimroz.

The recent incidents confirm the presence of ISIS militants in various cities across the country, say Afghans.

Khair Mohammad Patang, 43, who lives in Kabul's 8th district, said he was surprised when he learned about an ISIS hideout in his neighbourhood and is very worried about his and his family's safety.

"A military operation was carried out on the hideout of ISIS near our house. The situation was very terrible, and after a few days, the terror is still overshadowing our daily life. Everyone has been very worried since then," he said.

"It had been a while since we had last heard explosions and gunfire. It seems that the relatively peaceful environment that we had no longer exists."

"The presence and activity of ISIS militants near our house are really terrifying. ISIS has many hideouts in Kabul city, and I am worried it'll plan suicide attacks or detonate bombs at any moment," Patang said.

Jawad Mohseni, 25, who lives in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul city, said ISIS attacks have disrupted peace and daily life in his neighbourhood in the past few months.

"We fear going to the market or the mosque, going to school or the university, or to attending classes for fear of ISIS's imminent attacks. Everyone is afraid of becoming a victim of ISIS attacks," he said.

"Dozens of families from our neighbourhood have migrated to neighbouring countries in recent months for fear of ISIS. Concern about ISIS's widespread presence is increasing day by day," he added.

The presence of ISIS hideouts in Kabul shows that the city is in danger, said Mohseni.

Concerns about more bloody attacks

ISIS attacks have increased across Afghanistan since about a year and a half ago.

According to the SITE Intelligence Group, which follows the activities of terrorist networks, the Khorasan branch of ISIS (ISIS-K) carried out 224 terrorist attacks in Afghanistan between August 2021 and August 2022.

Dozens of civilians, including religious scholars, have been killed.

The rise in attacks and the presence of ISIS in some cities have caused serious concern among the Afghan population.

ISIS militants have expanded their operations in different cities, and he is worried about the group's terrorist attacks on public spaces and the massacre of innocent civilians, Gul Ahmad Azizi, 32, a resident of Zaranj, Nimroz province, said.

"I never thought ISIS would have a footprint in Nimroz. But now that [authorities] have arrested members loyal to the group in Zaranj city, I am very worried. ISIS threats cannot be ignored."

Afghanistan lacks the powerful military needed to destroy the terrorist group, he added.

"Some big cities like Kabul are witnessing explosions and suicides as they did in the past. Previously, terrorist groups were afraid of the air strikes carried out by international and local Afghan forces. But now they can operate freely and establish bases in the cities," he said.

ISIS threatens the lives of all Afghans, and if its disruptive activities are not stopped, even more innocent civilians will fall victim to explosions and suicide attacks, said Azizi.

An increase in ISIS's bloody attacks indicates that a dark future awaits Afghans, Safiullah Poya, 26, a resident of Herat city, said.

"No one is safe from ISIS attacks. ISIS indiscriminately attacks any place, including markets, mosques, schools, hospitals and education centres. ISIS militants are determined to massacre innocent Afghans wherever they can," he said.

"With the withdrawal of international troops and the collapse of the previous Afghan military forces, ISIS has become bolder and has expanded its activities across the country."

"Taking advantage of the current vacuum, ISIS launches attacks and targets local civilians wherever it wishes," he added.

ISIS violence is one of the many daily concerns of the Afghan people, in addition to poverty and unemployment, according to Poya.

A threat to the global community

ISIS will become a serious threat to world security if it forges alliances with other terrorist groups and expands its activities in Afghanistan, according to observers.

ISIS-K has become very strong over the past year and is trying to recruit more men, said military analyst Mohammad Naim Ghayur.

"Many local commanders of ISIS in Afghanistan receive steadfast support from its leadership, whose members live in Iraq and Syria. Now that ISIS has become very focused in Afghanistan, the leadership sees the conditions as very suitable to expand the group's activities across the country," he said.

"The purpose of ISIS is not only to carry out terrorist attacks or to assassinate local civilians but to try to control more territory in Afghanistan. As more districts fall into its hands, ISIS will establish more hideouts and expand its presence across the country," Ghayur said.

If ISIS terrorist activities are not stopped in Afghanistan, they will endanger not just Afghan but also global security, he added.

Containing and dismantling ISIS-K require a global coalition, said Zamari Shindandwal, 65, a former Afghan military officer in Herat city.

"ISIS is present and active almost all over Afghanistan. The group has become so powerful that Afghans alone cannot eliminate it. It has brought in a large number of militants from neighbouring countries and the region to Afghanistan, and has secure hideouts in the country," he said.

"Most ISIS hideouts are located in mountainous and remote areas. A strong air force is needed to target these hideouts. Currently, there is no air force in Afghanistan, and ISIS makes good use of this opportunity," he said.

The time has come for the world to realise the danger of ISIS's presence in Afghanistan and act decisively against it before it is too late, Shindandwal said.

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ISIS is just a name. All these are the projects of the world's gangster and rogue intelligence agencies that Pakistan implements in Afghanistan and the region. First, they built seminaries for them. They trained religious extremists by misusing the name of Islam. Then they killed the same extremists like chess pieces. Also, they defamed Islam and prevented development in the region, especially in Afghanistan. Because in a country where there is a war one day, all the affairs are disrupted. Afghanistan has been intentionally kept as a battlefield for four and a half decades.


One of the best works of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is to destroy the extremist group of ISIS. The Taliban are chasing after ISIS everywhere. If the ISIS terrorist group was based in Afghanistan, one of the Afghan districts would be in their hands, but this is not the case. Destroying the ISIS extremist group is the first task of the Taliban. The people of the villages and cities of Afghanistan also hate ISIS. The way, they helped the Taliban and defended the Taliban's actions, the people of the villages did not help the extremist group of ISIS, nor did they defend ISIS. If ISIS is in Afghanistan, they might remain alone. Afghans will never stand with ISIS, because Afghans hate the ISIS. It is impossible for ISIS extremist group to be successful in Afghanistan.