09:42 GMT13 August 2020
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    Daesh, also known as ISIL or Islamic State terrorist group, has reportedly captured four districts in eastern Afghanistan as 1,600 local militants pledged allegiance to the terror group, The Times newspaper reported.

    The move is seen as a step on the way to establish an ISIL province in Afghanistan. The camp is most likely in the Nangarhar province in the east of Afghanistan, The Long War Journal reported. It further suggested that the “Afghan army is reportedly struggling to contain the threat amid heavy personnel losses and daily battle; with up to 500 personnel deaths per month.”

    Similarly, The Independent reported that tens of thousands of villagers have fled their communities in a bid to escape the advancing threat.

    However, political analyst and journalist Hasan Abdullah told Radio Sputnik that ISIL’s presence in Afghanistan is not that significant for now and has been exaggerated.

    “ISIL is present in Afghanistan and in Pakistan but its significance is exaggerated. When we talk in particular about the Nangarhar province we find a number of former Pakistani Taliban splinter groups who have a leaning towards the so-called Islamic State. Their number has been close to 3,000 or so, and they have been a nuisance for Pakistan and for the Afghan government there, but the fact that they have shifted their allegiance to ISIL will not have such a significant difference,” Abdullah said.

    The analyst further said, “There have been certain incidents such as executions that tend to grab a lot of media attention but from a military point of view their significance is not such a threat as the Taliban or even al-Qaeda.”

    Referring to these jihadi groups and their formations, Abdullah said that back in 2014 there was fragmentation within the jihadi ranks and many of them had moved to Syria. “But over time, because of various theological reasons, even many of the hardcore jihadists who were formerly members of al-Qaeda felt that ISIL had moved away from the Islamic theological standpoint, so many of the people actually started returning back.”

    He spoke further about the concept with which these jihadist groups went to Syria as they saw it as a global struggle and they felt united in their theology in the beginning.

    “Many of them felt that they have to pledge allegiance to someone who sees the world from their global view. Many of them were those who were active since the Afghan war. But now they feel that these killings and executions are against what they stood for. There is polarization even within the jihadi ranks.”

    The analyst further said, “Taliban actually issued a statement against ISIL stating that the former had been interfering in their affairs. There have been skirmishes in areas close to Jalalabad; however, there hasn’t been a formal announcement from the Taliban.”

    “It seems that now the Taliban is focusing on the soft power aspect as well, whereas, Islamic State is not really concerned at all with perception management and is really going all out with its looting and killings,” Abdullah said.


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    Daesh, media coverage, Jihadists, expansion, interview, threat, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan
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