Khak-e-Afghan has long been a Taliban bastion that Afghani security forces tended to avoid.
With newcomers buying up expensive properties in the area, the implications of resettlement weren’t clear to local authorities. But now, as Daesh has been to said to have established a base in the district, it has become clear that the group is recruiting fighters in the region. According to local law enforcement, Daesh is well-equipped, with cutting-edge communication technologies.
The director of Zabul's provincial council, Atta Mohammad Haqbayan, said that locals are “very poor,” resulting in them being “very easy targets” for wealthy foreigners seeking to recruit them as gunmen.
Meanwhile, Afghan forces supported by Americans are battling Daesh in Nangarhar province. It has become a hotbed for Taliban-turned-Daesh fighters fleeing Pakistan, and has grown to some 1500 members, US General John Nicholson, commander of American and NATO forces in the country, said.
Nicholson said that Daesh extremists escaping that offensive have fled to the south of Afghanistan, but has not confirmed if Zabul is their final destination. US officials coordinating anti-Daesh efforts in the country have said that there’s no “substantial” evidence that the jihadists have consolidated their grip on Zabul.
However, locals “have proof [Daesh members] are linked with and are in constant contact with Daesh in Iraq and that they receive funding from them," Haqbayan said.
He claimed that provincial authorities have turned to Kabul for assistance in dealing with violent extremists, but have received an inadequate response.