How foreign members of IS make their way to Afghanistan?

Nearly 45 days after surrender of over 1,500 members of the Islamic State – Khurasan Province (ISKP), sources from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) told Kabul Now that 439 members of the terrorist group are currently under interrogation in the NDS detention centers in Kabul.

These ISKP members have surrendered to the Afghan national defense and security forces in the last one and half month—as the result of intensified airstrikes and military operation against the terrorist group.

Children and foreign nationals

Of the 439 members of the ISKP who are under the custody of the NDS, only 162 fighters are Afghan nationals who are all above the age 18.

277 members of the terrorist group are foreign nationals—from Pakistan, Iran, India, Jordan, China, and Central Asian countries. Of these foreign nationals, 43 are men, 75 are women, and 159 others are children. Most of the children and women are family members of the arrested ISKP fighters.

According to the NDS officials, majority of the children are between 1-12 years old.

How foreign nationals entered to Afghanistan?

Some of the ISKP members say they have made their way to Afghanistan after obtaining Afghan identity card, Tazkira, by ISKP members who were operating in Afghanistan.

Amin Delneshin, an Iranian national from Urmia city of Azerbaijan

Amin Delneshin, who is from Urmia city of Azerbaijan province in Iran, has joined the ISKP in Afghanistan. He told Kabul Now that he was recruited along with nine other Iranian nationals to the ISKP by an IS recruitment officer in Iran named Abu Ahmad around five months ago.

As he detailed, the ISKP members have provided the Iranian nationals with Afghan Tazkiras and then they were moved to the western Nimroz province of Afghanistan.

“We were nine people at the beginning. Then, three of us regretted and did not join Daesh leaving us just six people. Four of us had moved to Afghanistan before me and my friends,” says Mr. Delneshin. “I and two of my friends came to Nimroz with Afghan national identity card.”

Delneshin and his friend were taken to Kabul and Nangarhar by another member of the terrorist group from Nimroz province. Delneshin was recruited to supply food, munitions, and equipment for fighters of the group in Achin district of Nangarhar.

He decided to surrender to the Afghan forces after his friend was killed as the result of a foreign airstrike in the province.

The surrendered Iranian ISKP member says he had joined the terrorist group through a Telegram channel after receiving promises to have high salary. “I was told that they will pay me as much money that it would be sufficient for my future expenses as well. But I was just paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees over that five months,” Delneshin said.

He noted that other promises of the group were never met.

Khadija has joined the ISKP in Nangarhar along with her husband from Waziristan, in northern Pakistan, around four years ago. She is now under the NDS custody with her four children.

Khadija, a Pakistani national from Waziristan

She, however, does not know about whereabouts of her husband due to restrictions in the detention centers and separation of male and female detainees. “There are just my four children with me. I do not know about whereabouts of my husband who was a warrior and surrendered,” she says, urging the Afghan government to release her and all her family members.

Maria, 32, is from Gujarat state of India who has joined the ISKP in Nangarhar along with her husband after entering in Afghanistan. Maria’s husband had been recruited by one of his friends to ISKP around four years ago in India.

Mariam, another Pakistani citizen, has joined the terrorist group along with her husband four years ago. As she stated, they were forced to leave Narwal in Punjab of Pakistan after their marriage which was made in contradiction to the ruling local norms and traditions.

Maria, an Indian citizen

Both; the wife and husband, are imprisoned by the ISKP and then arrested by Afghan forces in a military operation on the ISKP hideout.

ISKP defeat in Nangarhar

To defeat the ISKP in Nangarhar, Afghan forces launched a massive operation against the terrorist group around three months ago in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, Fawad Aman, told Kabul Now a month after the operation was launched that the ISKP was completely defeated in eastern Afghanistan. “They do not have even the capability to fire a single bullet against government forces,” he claimed.

He added that most of the ISKP members had surrendered to Afghan forces in Achin district of the province and all strongholds of the terrorist group were destroyed in the district.

The deputy spokesperson further noted that the ISKP members were forced to surrender after airstrikes and military operations intensified against the terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have claimed that the Afghan forces rescued ISKP terrorists after the Taliban militants had besieged them as the result of their operation in Nangarhar and other neighboring provinces.

Although the Afghan government reject any role of the Taliban in the defeat of the ISKP, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, acknowledged in a tweet posted on December 04 that the Taliban had role in defeating the ISKP.

“Effective operations by US/Coalition and Afghan security forces, as well as the Taliban, led to ISIS-K losing territory and fighters,” parts of his tweet reads.

Describing the defeat as a big achievement for Afghanistan and the region, President Ghani congratulated the victory for Afghan security forces on November 19.