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IS actively recruiting in Afghanistan but not operational yet, says Gen. Campbell

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: The international forces commander in Afghanistan the other day said the Islamic State (IS) group is actively recruiting in the country, but is not yet operational here.

General John F. Campbell said the insurgent group’s social-media campaign has been attracting the Taliban fighters based in Af-Pak region dissatisfied with the lack of progress in more than a decade of fighting to defeat the Afghan government.

He told reporters that as a result, many were pledging allegiance to IS, which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq.

“We don’t want it to continue to grow. Efforts were being made to ensure IS’ presence did not reach levels similar to Syria and Iraq,” Campbell said.

He said Afghans largely did not agree with the ideology of the Islamic State. But he contradicted his earlier statement that IS was not active on the battlefields of Afghanistan by saying it was reportedly fighting the Taliban for control of territory and men.

“In fact, Taliban and Daesh are reportedly fighting each other,” he said. “It is absolutely a concern.”

A number of officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, have said the group does have an active presence in Afghanistan.

Campbell said the group’s presence has grown considerably in the past six months, though he did not provide details.

Campbell said many Taliban had become disillusioned with the leadership and saw the Islamic State as offering “an opportunity to maybe gain resources and so they pledge allegiance”.

The Taliban leadership is under pressure to give up violence in the country and come to the table of negotiations with the Afghan government. There have been a number of positive advances in the peace process from all involved sides—Afghan government, the Taliban and also Islamabad. However, Ghani’s government is faced with large criticism about holding clandestine talks with Pakistani officials regarding the peace process.

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